As massive fires in Colorado and elsewhere have raged in recent weeks, Mill Valley Fire Chief Jeff Davidson told the Mill Valley City Council meeting this week that it was vital for the city to remain well-prepared for the upcoming summer season.
Recent fires in both Mendocino county and San Louis Obisbo act as potential case studies for Mill Valley fire fighters, Davidson said, as both locations have similar topographic traits, vegetation types and access issues as Mill Valley.
As the summer progresses, the threat of fire becomes greater due to the prolonged drying of vegetation and lack of rain. Many factors contribute to what a fire season will look like and the threat is always there, according to Davidson.
He cited weather, topography and fuels as the three major factors to look at when it comes to wildfires. Many think of weather solely as temperature and humidity, but wind is the factor that can turn an easily contained burn into a raging fire. Topography deals with factors such as elevation and steepness, as certain sides of Mt. Tam are more prone to burn due to solar radiation. Fuel sources in Mill Valley are abundant and vary greatly, from annual grasses to redwoods.
has created three initiatives to help curb the threat of fire: , fire prevention and the . These programs work together to train local fire fighters, educate the community and clear potentially hazardous vegetation (fuel).
Last year the removed more than 300 tons of fuel, which was, according to Davidson, “a great step along the way to continue to reduce and mitigate.”
“The fire department, through the use of best practices and prevention, engineering, enforcement, and education continues to work to reduce the risk through mitigation," he added. "We need to remain vigilant so if a fire occurs we are prepared with an appropriate response.”