Big Bear City Joins Elite List of California Communities Honored With Firewise Communities/USA Distinction; Fire Chief Jeff Willis Accepts Honor from CalFire at Monday’s CSD Meeting

CalFire Deputy Chief presents the Firewise Communities/USA distinction to Big Bear City Fire Chief Jeff Willis

CalFire Deputy Chief presents the Firewise Communities/USA distinction to Big Bear City Fire Chief Jeff Willis

In a presentation before the Board of Directors of the Big Bear City Community Services District yesterday, Big Bear City Fire Chief Jeff Willis told the crowd, “Tonight we celebrate reaching a milestone.” That milestone is official recognition as a Firewise Communities/USA site, an honor only achieved by less than 20 communities, including Big Bear Lake, in the entire state of California. It was only in 2005 when the Big Bear City Fire Department implemented curbside chipping, in an effort to help property owners create defensible space—amounts of dead vegetation chipped have doubled nearly every year and, in 2008, 545 tons of hazardous fuels were chippped through the Bear City Fire Department, which has teamed with the Bear Valley Fire Safe Council, the San Bernardino County Hazardous Trees Division, the U.S. Forest Service, San Bernardino County Fire chipper crews, the Forest Care tree thinning program, and CalTrans to further the effort to make the East Valley a firewise community. According to County Fire Captain Gary McCord, who is also a Big Bear resident, “The amount of brush was staggering”—noting that one curbside chipping pile in the Meadowbrook Estates area was a quarter mile long! In order for communities to receive the Firewise distinction, there must be a Community Wildfire Protection Plan, as well public awareness and information on defensible space—this, coupled with the Chipper Days program (which received over 700 calls) contributed to the Big Bear City CSD designation, which was presented by CalFire’s Deputy Chief Doug McKain. During Chief Willis’s presentation, representatives from supporting agencies were also included; among those was David Kelley of the U.S. Forest Service, who noted that hazardous fuels reduction continues on the North Shore, from the transfer station in Baldwin Lake west to Butler Peak near the dam, while continued work on the Valley’s south shore, between the lake and Skyline Drive, will continue in 2009. In all, these efforts to reduce wildfire risk extend well beyond the fire department, and also rely on the participation of residents to create defensible space. As Denise Proffer of the Fire Safe Council pointed out at the March 16 CSD meeting, “Community is the operative word in Firewise Community.”

The Firewise honor was then celebrated with a cake, which Chief Willis (center) cuts with CSD President John Day and past President Rick Ollila

The Firewise honor was then celebrated with a cake, which Chief Willis (center) cuts with CSD President John Day and past President Rick Ollila

[caption id="attachment_3026" align="alignleft" width="300" caption="CalFire Deputy Chief presents the Firewise Communities/USA distinction to Big Bear City Fire Chief Jeff Willis"]CalFire Deputy Chief presents the Firewise Communities/USA distinction to Big Bear City Fire Chief Jeff Willis[/caption]

In a presentation before the Board of Directors of the Big Bear City Community Services District yesterday, Big Bear City Fire Chief Jeff Willis told the crowd, “Tonight we celebrate reaching a milestone.” That milestone is official recognition as a Firewise Communities/USA site, an honor only achieved by less than 20 communities, including Big Bear Lake, in the entire state of California. It was only in 2005 when the Big Bear City Fire Department implemented curbside chipping, in an effort to help property owners create defensible space—amounts of dead vegetation chipped have doubled nearly every year and, in 2008, 545 tons of hazardous fuels were chippped through the Bear City Fire Department, which has teamed with the Bear Valley Fire Safe Council, the San Bernardino County Hazardous Trees Division, the U.S. Forest Service, San Bernardino County Fire chipper crews, the Forest Care tree thinning program, and CalTrans to further the effort to make the East Valley a firewise community. According to County Fire Captain Gary McCord, who is also a Big Bear resident, “The amount of brush was staggering”—noting that one curbside chipping pile in the Meadowbrook Estates area was a quarter mile long! In order for communities to receive the Firewise distinction, there must be a Community Wildfire Protection Plan, as well public awareness and information on defensible space—this, coupled with the Chipper Days program (which received over 700 calls) contributed to the Big Bear City CSD designation, which was presented by CalFire’s Deputy Chief Doug McKain. During Chief Willis’s presentation, representatives from supporting agencies were also included; among those was David Kelley of the U.S. Forest Service, who noted that hazardous fuels reduction continues on the North Shore, from the transfer station in Baldwin Lake west to Butler Peak near the dam, while continued work on the Valley’s south shore, between the lake and Skyline Drive, will continue in 2009. In all, these efforts to reduce wildfire risk extend well beyond the fire department, and also rely on the participation of residents to create defensible space. As Denise Proffer of the Fire Safe Council pointed out at the March 16 CSD meeting, “Community is the operative word in Firewise Community.”

[caption id="attachment_3027" align="alignleft" width="590" caption="The Firewise honor was then celebrated with a cake, which Chief Willis (center) cuts with CSD President John Day and past President Rick Ollila"]The Firewise honor was then celebrated with a cake, which Chief Willis (center) cuts with CSD President John Day and past President Rick Ollila[/caption]

Related posts:

  1. Jeff Willis To Oversee Big Bear Lake Fire Department As Interim Chief
  2. City Council Did Not Name New Fire Chief at February 23 Meeting, But Did Honor Public Servants
  3. Fire Chief Willis to Provide Mountain Area Safety Task Force Update in This Evening’s Community Services District Meeting