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Kincade Fire settlement pays out $6 million to Santa Rosa Junior College

Santa Rosa Junior College (SRJC) was awarded $6 million in funds from the Sonoma County District Attorney’s settlement with Pacific Gas & Electric Company (PG&E) over criminal and civil charges related to the 2019 Kincade Fire. These funds will be invested in the SRJC Fire Technologies Program and the SRJC Wildfire Resilience Program to train a workforce dedicated to keeping Sonoma County safe from future catastrophic wildfires.

Santa Rosa Junior College President Dr. Frank Chong said: “SRJC is honored and grateful for the investment that the Sonoma County District Attorney’s Office secured for our Fire Technologies Program and our Wildfire Resilience Program. This investment will enable SRJC to grow and expand these programs that train the next generation of firefighters and wildfire resilience professionals in Sonoma County. We are ready to step up for our community.”

The Fire Technology Program of the Santa Rosa Junior College Public Safety Training Center is recognized by California State Fire Training under the State Fire Marshal's Office and the State Board of Fire Services as an Accredited Regional Training Program, offering several paths for those who have an interest in the fire service. These include a Certificate in Fire Technology, an Associate’s Degree in Fire Technology, the Firefighter I & II Academy and "In-service" courses. The SRJC Firefighter Academy was recently awarded the State Fire Training Ronny J. Coleman California Accredited Academy of Excellence award as the “best Academy in the State”.

Fire Technology Program Director Ken Sebastiani said, “There is a severe shortage of qualified firefighter candidates to fill current openings in Sonoma County and statewide. These new resources from the PG&E settlement will allow us to increase our capacity and grow our program now and for years into the future.”

Burned trees following a wildfire.
Burned trees following a wildfire.

SRJC’s Wildfire Resilience Program combines rigorous college coursework in the Animal Science, Natural Resources, and Environmental Horticulture programs with hands-on training in a variety of wildfire resilient practices including prescribed grazing, forest fuel reduction, defensible space, and post-fire ecological restoration. Students also have the opportunity to hone their skills in a variety of work-based learning arrangements, including paid internships at SRJC’s Shone Farm campus as well as through community partners conducting wildfire resilience work in high-need areas of Sonoma County.

SRJC will also launch or expand two additional programs. The first is a contract education program focused on training a workforce to conduct utility power line inspections perform utility line clearance arboriculture. Program graduates will go to work directly with PG&E or their utility line clearance contractors. SRJC will also expand its bilingual, fire resilient landscaper training for the predominantly Latinx landscaper workforce in Sonoma County, and work with nonprofits and County partners on an equity-oriented policy approach that includes landscapers in forthcoming incentive programs for property owners to perform vegetation management, structure hardening, and fire resilient landscaping around their properties.

Over the next 90 days, SRJC will develop a detailed work plan and budget to submit to the District Attorney’s office for review. SRJC is grateful for this investment and is committed to training the next generation of firefighters, utility line clearance professionals, fire-resilient landscapers, livestock grazers, and natural resource technicians.

For more information on the SRJC Fire Technologies program, please email Dean Joshua Adams at jasdams2@santarosa.edu. For more information on the SRJC Wildfire Resiliency program, please email Dean Benjamin Goldstein at bgoldstein@santarosa.edu.

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