Ramona’s first door-to-door fire safety campaign will continue this Saturday, but more volunteers are needed to hand out the “Before the Threat” packets that tell residents what to do before, during and after a wildfire.
The drive kicked off last Saturday with 17 volunteers distributing more than 1,900 packets. Thirteen of the volunteers left the packs at residences in high-risk fire areas and the other four delivered packets to events going on in town, to businesses on Main Street, service organizations and to the Ramona Library and Ramona Chamber of Commerce, said Ramona Fire Department Inspector Jeremy Davis.
“It went well, but we were kind of slowed down by having only 13 volunteers going door to door,” Davis said. “It would be nice if we could get 40 volunteers this weekend. Then we would be able to get all 4,000 packets distributed.”
CalFire Battalion Chief Saul Villagomez is pleased that they almost met the goal of distributing half of the available packets. But he pointed out that more volunteers are needed this weekend, because the focus will be on door-to-door delivery, since the bulk dropoffs to groups and businesses have been done.
Those interested in volunteering are asked to contact the fire department at 760-788-2250 or ramonafire.com. Registration will begin at 8 a.m. at Fire Station 80, 829 San Vicente Road (entering off 11th Street). There will be an orientation session at 8:30 a.m., but volunteers are welcome to sign in through noon, and they can decide themselves how many hours they wish to contribute, but they must return to the station to check out by 3 pm.
“We are all in this together,” said Villagomez, who is also Ramona Municipal Water District’s fire marshal. “Wildfires do not respect borders or neighborhoods. What your neighbors do to create defensible space is as important as what you do.”
The Ramona effort is part of a countywide “Before the Threat” campaign targeting 400,000 homes—also a first for the region. It was made possible by a $200,000 grant from Farmers Insurance Group, in cooperation with the San Diego County Office of Emergency Services and the San Diego County Fire Chiefs Association.
Locally, it is being coordinated by Villagomez, Farmers agent Amber Ramirez and Kristi Mansolf of the Ramona West End Fire Safe Council. Last Saturday’s volunteers included members of CERT (Ramona Community Emergency Response Team), REAL (Ramona Emergency Assistance League), West End Fire Safe Council and Kiwanis of Ramona.
“We didn’t get as many volunteers as we were hoping for,” Ramirez said, “but the ones we had were very, very passionate about what we’re doing. They’d do 50 homes, come back, get more packets and go out again, even in the heat and all. And we had people call, asking for packets for their street and volunteering to pass them out.
“The thing we all talked about, including the firemen, was not ‘if’ it’s going to happen again, but ‘when.’ It’s bound to happen again. We just have to be prepared as we can be.”
The packets include a DVD, a home inventory checklist, brochures about fire safety and a link to an online wildfire awareness guide.
Locations that received packets last Saturday include the outskirts of San Diego Country Estates, Mussey Grade, Highway 67 corridor, Montecito Way area, Black Canyon/Magnolia, Old Julian, Amigos Road and Highway 78 and Cedar area.
“We still have a lot to do in some of those areas,” Davis said. “Hopefully, we will have a good turnout of volunteers to get the job done.”
Ramirez said that residents will be able to pick up a packet at her Farmers Insurance booth at the Ramona Country Fair this weekend.
And at least 1,700 additional packets will soon be available at fire stations, from local service organizations and at the annual fire safety open house at Station 80 on Oct. 17.
“And if we run out, CalFire’s Monte Vista station in El Cajon has a cache of available packets,” Villagomez said. “We can get more.”