Almost 50 Ramona citizens answered the call last Saturday for volunteers to distribute information about what to do before, during and after a fire in the town’s first door-to-door fire safety campaign. As a result, “we exceeded our goal and distributed 4,200 ‘Before the Threat’ packets,” said Ramona Fire Department Inspector Jeremy Davis.
Organizers had hoped to hand out 4,000 packets on back-to-back weekends, but had only 17 volunteers show up for the first effort on July 25, “so we were pleasantly surprised to see so many people show such an interest,” said Davis, who put the official volunteer count last Saturday at 46.
Assistance came from firemen from CalFire’s Mt. Woodson and Witch Creek stations, complete with fire trucks, and 11 members of the Lemurian Fellowship also arrived to distribute packets in Ramona neighborhoods.
“We had a ton of great volunteers who went out, came back, got more packets and went out again. Everyone was really passionate about what we are doing,” said Ramona Farmers Insurance agent Amber Ramirez. “It’s great to see the community come together and do this.”
The campaign was made possible by a $200,000 grant from Farmers and run countywide in cooperation with the San Diego County Office of Emergency Services (OES) and the San Diego County Fire Chiefs Association. The goal was to reach 400,000 homes in “high hazard urban interface areas.”
“We actually ran out of packets; that is so impressive,” said Kristi Mansolf, chair of the Ramona West End Fire Safe Council. However, another 1,500 packets are still available and can be picked up at the locations listed in the box accompanying this article.
After signing in at Fire Station 80, the volunteers fanned out and covered more of Mussey Grade Road, the Weekend Villa area and Pamo Road, Davis said. “We got to the end of Highland Valley Road and went back to some of the areas covered the previous Saturday and expanded out from where we left off.”
The volunteers found that many of those contacted were aware of the program and pleased to receive the packets, which contain an instructional DVD, a home inventory checklist, brochures about fire safety and instructions to visit an OES Web site: ReadySanDiego.org.
“People are very grateful for this and happy to have the information,” said Jorgene Gedman, who volunteered on behalf of Ramona CERT (Community Emergency Response Team).
Mansolf is especially pleased about the Before the Threat campaign because she said it is the first time that Ramona has been asked to participate in a “public outreach, mass distribution event.”
“This kind of thing has never filtered up here before,” she said. “And it got such great press coverage, so when we went into an area, people knew why we were there.
“We were at the end of Ramona Oaks and a concerned gentleman saw us milling around on a lawn and asked what we were doing there. When we told him, the people were happy and welcoming and stood around telling fire stories. It was an exciting thing to see people sharing the whole spirit of the event.”
And Mansolf believes that this greater sense of community could be a most beneficial outcome of the ‘Before the Threat’ campaign.
“I think the information given out was not only a helpful, friendly reminder to get prepared, but it was also like a type of support—being recognized for living in this kind of area. There is something people can do, and we are not alone.
“Sometimes you have to depend on someone else to implement your plan,” she said. “If you’re down the hill when fire strikes, you might not be able to get back to rescue the horses. Hopefully, this will encourage people to work with their neighbors to have a support system—a backup plan.”
“Before the Threat” DVD fire prevention and preparedness packages are available to the public at the following Ramona locations:
• Kahoots Animals & Supplies, 945 Main St.
• Ramona Chamber of Commerce, 960 Main St.
• CATT Farm & Ranch Supply, 629 Main St.
• Amber Ramirez Farmers Insurance, 603 Main St.
• Ransom Bros. Lumber & Supply Co., 532 B St.
• Diamond D Feed & Supply Company, 444 D St.
• Ramona Library, 1406 Montecito Road
• Ramona Sentinel, 425-A 10th St.
• All Ramona fire stations; CalFire Mt. Woodson and Witch Creek fire stations
• Ramona water district office, 105 Earlham St.
Packets also are available at Julian Feed in Julian and at Chappelle Insurance Agency in El Cajon.