Protecting Against California Wildfires, Part 2

Protecting Against California Wildfires, Part 2

These are just suggestions that government and fire boards could consider in designing safer housing communities, and in rebuilding the currently destroyed projects.

I suggest that the Governor convene a special blue ribbon fire review committee to report in a few months on what were the problems of the current projects, and how could they be overcome in rebuilding projects in a united way, based on new CCRs for the communities. Houses in the communities are now more safe than the other houses in the communities. Another way to say it is that a ubiquitous fire will attack the weakest link, and cause the whole chain to break.

Let’s start with the suspected fire starter being downed or impacted power lines being struck by trees in the 50 mph winds, with 75 mph gusts. In this modern digital age, where even household appliances are being monitored, the power companies should be monitoring every line in a storm, and immediately locating any dangers and shutting down that segment of line.

On the surface, cul-de-sacs appear to be fire traps, in three ways. A street with adjoining lawns can be considered a fire break. However, if a fire is going down one side of the street with closely spaced houses, when it comes down to the cul-de-sac, it might easily wrap around to the other side of the street. If you live on such a street, and the fire is burning down the street from the connecting end, you are trapped or in danger driving through the fire to escape. With straight streets with two exits, you can get out on the safe side. Finally, fire engines have trouble maneuvering on narrow streets, and are more likely to stay to fight a fire if they have safe exits on either side. Sure, the cul-de-sac encourages kids to play catch in the street, but the housing project should have park spaces, which also serve as fire breaks.

Gas utility companies should create electronic valves that can turn off natural gas to neighborhoods that are being attacked by fires.

Just as we prepare people for earthquake safety kits, those with fire exposure should have handouts and yearly mailings, classes, and drills, and have a prepared suitcase or backpack.

Even fireproof safes will heat up in extreme fires, and melt or catch fire because of the temperature rise.

Finally, handicapped people and those without their own means of evacuation should be registered with first responders and their neighborhood manager, and allow their cell phones to be tracked. After evacuation orders are given, they should be evacuated immediately by their neighborhood managers, or by first responders.

About Dennis SILVERMAN

I am a retired Professor of Physics and Astronomy at U C Irvine. For a decade I have been active in learning about energy and the environment, and in lecturing and attending classes at the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI) at UC Irvine.
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