Category Archives: Fire

San Marcos firefighters help CSUSM students test drone technology

During a wildfire simulation, students explored how drones could deliver hoses to crews

Last month North County firefighters gathered in San Marcos for a wildfire simulation, but this wasn’t your typical training.
The City of San Marcos rallied crews from several cities to help California State University San Marcos (CSUSM) students test a drone technology that could improve how wildfires are fought.

“Firefighters spend a lot of time and energy shuttling hoses from the engine to the actual wildfire,” explained Nick Blaylock, one of the students involved. “And they’re often doing this up steep slopes and across rough terrain, which is exhausting.”

Drones, however, could possibly help crews conserve some energy by air-dropping those hose- packs so firefighters don’t have to haul them. As part of a senior project, Blaylock and four other students spent months exploring that with Skylift Global, a San Marcos-based company that makes drones capable of delivering supplies to first-responders.
Though Skylift Global has been in business for three years, serving firefighters is new territory it wanted to explore–so the company submitted a proposal for the Senior Experience Program, which assigns CSUSM students to real-world projects like these.
The students began by researching what crews face during a wildfire. That led them to San Marcos Fire Battalion Chief James Colston, who oversees the department’s training and safety division.“We’re fortunate to have Cal State San Marcos right here in our backyard, so we were happy to help,” he said. “We invited them to observe our annual training, which I think opened their eyes.”

It did, in fact, says Blaylock. His team realized that a drone probably couldn’t help much during the early stages of a wildfire because the flames are too unpredictable. But it likely could help during the later stages, when a fire border has been established.
Based on that, the students designed a simulation that included fire hose packs every 100-feet, as if a drone had peppered them out for crews. Now, all they needed were firefighters to run the test.

“Thankfully, Chief Colston got an amazing turnout for us,” Blaylock said. “We were so thankful that so many firefighters were willing to come volunteer their time on a Sunday morning to help us.”

During the May 6 simulation, firefighters from the cities of San Marcos, Carlsbad, Escondido and Rancho Santa Fe—as well as the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CAL FIRE)—participated. Results showed that if crews did not have to manually haul hose packs, they worked about 18 percent faster—and theoretically, would be less fatigued during a real wildfire.

“While time is a good measurement, fatigue is really the key factor,” explained Colston, who added that he can see the potential support drones could provide. “If something like this can increase efficiency while reducing the chance of firefighters getting hurt, then I’m all for it.”
That exact sentiment is what inspired Amir Emadi to start Skylift Global. His father was working as a United States cooperative in Iraq when he was killed by Iraqi forces while protecting a city.

“Since then, I’ve spent my life finding a way to introduce technology to the people who dedicate their lives to protect us,” Emadi said. “I formed Skylift to help our first-responders save time, money and lives by delivering their critical supplies with our heavy-lift drones.”
As a next step, Emadi will use the research conducted by the CSUSM students to develop a plan to bring the drones to market. There are still hurdles to navigate, as drones are legally not allowed to be in the air during a wildfire, but Emadi is optimistic he can keep the momentum going.

“It was refreshing to work with such a driven, intelligent and responsible team,” he said, adding that although the CSUSM students have now graduated, some have remained interns and he hopes to hire them. “I am so thankful that San Marcos is home to such bright young talent like this, as well as city leaders who value innovation and are open to collaboration.”

For more information about Skylift Global, visit https://www.skyliftglobal.com/

Cocos Fire: 4 Years Later – The Escondido Creek Conservancy

Almost 2,000 acres burned, 40 structures destroyed, and almost $5.7 million dollars in property damage were caused by the Coco’s Fire. The fire was ignited by a 14-year-old girl in her backyard on May 14th, 2014. Fire season typically starts in October after the summer has dried out the vegetation but California was experiencing one of its worst droughts on record — leaving it particularly vulnerable. The Conservancy decided to turn the tragedy of the fire into an opportunity to document the rebirth of the ecosystem, to monitor the burned areas over time, to see what could be learned by taking photos of the same sites for five years. We are now in year four of that monitoring. Read more via Source: Cocos Fire: 4 Years Later – The Escondido Creek Conservancy

San Marcos joins regional fire agencies in regional Wildland Fire Preparedness Drill

The San Marcos Fire Department joined numerous fire agencies across the region, in coordination with the Pala Band of Mission Indians, in an annual San Diego County Wildland Fire Preparedness Exercise that took place from Wednesday, April 25 through Friday, April 27. Numerous emergency service agencies from throughout San Diego County will come together to prepare for the upcoming fire season.

SMFD participates in San Diego County
 Wildland Fire Drill
 The San Marcos Fire Department’s mobile emergency operation center served as a command center during the regional drill.
Battalion Chief Bill Frederick participates in regional wildland fire drill
 Battalion Chief Bill Frederick participates in regional wildland fire drill.

“This exercise provides a unique opportunity for the region’s fire resources to come together and train as one team,” said San Marcos Fire Chief Brett VanWey.

Regional firefighting forces joined together for training on inclusive of emergency communications, firefighter survival, structure defense, and hose deployments under simulated emergency conditions.

The area’s firefighting aircraft also participated in this three day training event. These water- dropping aircraft joined ground forces in coordinated fire attacks under simulated fire conditions.

“Fire season is year round and this drill helps us improve regional fire response and identify opportunities to improve,” VanWey said.

With approximately 750 firefighters participating in the training exercises over three days, this training event is a key element in maintaining firefighter preparedness as the region moves into the hot, dry summer months that bring the traditional fire season.

For the ninth year in a row, San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E) has provided funding for the event. The utility company is again sending line crews and utility equipment to participate in one of the training scenarios to educate first-responders on what to do if they come across downed power lines while battling a wildland fire.

“San Marcos is no stranger to wildfire and it is up to all of us to help keep ourselves, our property and the community safe,” continued VanWey. “Residents are also an important part of keeping the community safe, especially during a disaster.”

Now is the time to review family emergency plans, prepare a supply kit, and inventory home items such as important documents and medications so that you would want to take with you so you are ready to go if told to do so by a public safety official.

Homeowners are asked to create and maintain at least 150 feet of defensible space – but to do so only early in the morning when the grasses are still dewy to prevent sparking a fire in the dry heat of the day.

Residents should register all cell phones with AlertSanDiego to receive emergency notifications. This is especially important if landlines are no longer in the home. Residents can also download the SDEmergency App.

During an emergency, residents should stay updated on the latest local safety information by visiting the city’s website; following the city on FacebookTwitter and Instagram with the handle @sanmarcoscity; registering for e-notifications; and turning radios to AM 1610.

For more information about how you can prepare for emergencies, visit www.san-marcos.net/beprepared or visit ReadySanDiego.org. For red flag warning updates or to learn how you can do your part to reduce wildfire risk, visit CALFIRE’s website.

Defensible space inspections help keep homeowners safe in San Marcos

Defensible space inspections help keep homeowners safe in San Marcos

San Marcos, CA –In the last year, the San Marcos Fire Department (SMFD) conducted nearly 830 defensible space inspections of properties located in the city’s highest wildfire risk areas, as determined by the Community Wildfire Protection Plan.

Photo caption: San Marcos Fire Inspector Randy Hill conducts a defensible space audit on a home in a high fire risk area.  

Since January, the San Marcos Fire Department has sent notices to 250 properties asking owners to remove dead and overgrown vegetation and maintain the required 150 feet around a home to help reduce or slow the spread of wildfire.

“San Marcos is no stranger to wildfire and it is up to all of us to help keep ourselves, our property and the community safe,” said Fire Chief Brett VanWey.

During the defensible space audits, recommendations on how to improve or maintain defensible space are provided to the homeowner using a checklist and photos based on an inspection of the property.  If a homeowner is not home or cannot participate in the inspection while fire department personnel are on site, a copy of the report will be mailed to the owner.

Free of charge, homeowners do not need to be present as inspectors are able to assess defensible space requirements from the street or an adjacent property. Inspections are conducted only by uniformed fire department personnel to help educate homeowners on opportunities to minimize risk of wildfire.

“Creating defensible space is critical for a home’s chance of surviving a wildfire and reduces risk to our firefighters responding,” continued VanWey.


Photo Caption: Defensible space saved this home during the May 2014 Cocos Fire.

In addition to local inspections, CALFIRE will coordinate inspections with SMFD for residents living in the State Responsibility Area. CALFIRE’s main goal will be to educate homeowners and evaluate properties to ensure owners maintain the required defensible space – 100 feet for homes built prior to 2005 and 150 feet for homes built after 2005.

Homeowners can use the following tips to help homes survive a wildfire:

  • Maintain 150-feet of defensible space around all structures (100 feet for homes built prior to 2005).
  • Clear all needles and leaves from roofs, eaves and rain gutters.
  • Trim tree branches 6 feet from the ground.
  • Use trimming, mowing and power equipment before 10 a.m.
  • Landscape with fire resistant and drought tolerant plants that require little water.
  • Remove branches away from roofs and 10 feet from the chimney.
  • Keep wood piles and flammable materials at least 30 feet from the home.
  • Use fire ignition resistant building material.

For more emergency preparedness information, visit www.san-marcos.net/beprepared or call the San Marcos Fire Department at (760) 744-1050, ext. 3410.

Brush Fire in Elfin Forest-Seaquest Trail and Fortuna del Sur

@CBS8 Photo @SDrichards

Brush Fire in Elfin Forest-Seaquest Trail and Fortuna del Sur. Air response is up. The prevailing winds make this fire a NON issue at this time for San Elijo Hills.

SEMS PTO -“We are aware of the fire in Elfin Forest. It does not affect school. Dismissal will be as normal. Thank you”

UPDATE-Fire has been knocked down and Air and Ground resources are being released.

Small San Elijo Hills Vegetation Fire

IMG_5749Small San Elijo Hills Vegetation Fire is outDSC_1598

A small vegetation fire was quickly contained at the entrance to San Elijo Hills, near the entrance to the old recycling plant South East of Albertsons. Calls came in from San Elijo Hills residents around 2:34 PM Sunday. A quick response from San Marcos Fire, and Elfin Forest Fire Department, quickly contained the fire. The cause of the fire is under investigation at this stage. Please report any suspicious activity to San Marcos Fire Department.

UPDATE 3:00 PM-The fire has flared up calling air support and help from CAL Fire. Please stay off the roads so emergency responders can get in fast.

Update 5:05 PM:

‪#‎MarketFire‬ Update: After an initial containment of a fire in the San Elijo Hills area, north county fire resources and ‪#‎CalFire‬ were deployed to 1500 block of San Elijo Road. Forward progress of the fire has been halted at four acres. No evacuations have been issued; no injuries or damage to property reported.

As fire crews work to achieve full containment and mop up, expect a road closure at the south entrance of San Elijo Road for at least two hours.

Leve fireworks to the experts this Independence Day

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With Fourth of July only a few days away, the San Marcos Fire Department reminds all residents that fireworks are best left to experts.

“Fireworks are extremely dangerous, unpredictable and capable of causing serious burns and disfiguring injuries,” said San Marcos Fire Chief Brett Van Wey. “They can also ignite dry brush, grasses and dead tree material and cause serious fires in our community.”

All residents should know that all fireworks — even those labeled “consumer” or “safe and sane” — are illegal in San Diego County. This includes cone fountains, cylindrical fountains, roman candles, skyrockets, firecrackers, mine and shells, helicopter-type rockets, sparklers, poppers and revolving wheels.

According to the National Fire Protection Association, thousands of people, including children and teens, are injured every year while using consumer fireworks. Even something as “harmless” as a sparkler, which burns at over 1,200 degrees Fahrenheit, can cause critical injuries and pose a serious fire hazard. Additionally, two out of five fires reported on Independence Day are started by fireworks.

Residents are encouraged to enjoy the city’s FREE professional fireworks show during the annual Fourth of July Firework Extravaganza at Bradley Park on Monday, July 4. Entertainment and festivities begin at 6 pm with the firework show at 9 pm. Bradley Park is located on Linda Vista Drive between Rancho Santa Fe Road and Pacific Street.

For more fire prevention information, contact the San Marcos Fire Department at (760) 744-1050, ext. 3410.

To learn more about the city’s Fourth of July celebration, visit www.san-marcos.net/fireworks.

Four-acre brush fire at Discovery Lake fully contained

Four-acre brush fire at Discovery Lake fully contained

No injuries or property damage reported

At approximately 12:30 am on Tuesday, June 21 a four-acre brush fire broke out near the south side of Discovery Lake at Mendocino Drive and Buckhorn Avenue.

Response teams included the San Marcos, Vista, Carlsbad, and Rancho Santa Fe Fire Departments along with CAL Fire and the San Diego Sheriff’s Department. No injuries or property damage has been reported.

With 14 units responding, crews contained the blaze by approximately 2 am. While no evacuations were issued, residents off of Mendocino Drive were alerted of the fire. The fire’s cause is currently under investigation by the San Marcos Fire Department.

San Marcos Fire Department responds to early morning commercial fire

Official_Seal_of_the_City_of_San_Marcos,_CA

At approximately 2 am on May 24, a commercial fire broke out at 900 Armorlite Drive. Response teams included the San Marcos, Carlsbad and Vista Fire Departments. No injuries have been reported.

With four engine companies, two truck companies, one medic ambulance and two battalion chiefs responding, crews contained the fire within 22 minutes.

The fire’s cause is currently under investigation by the San Marcos Fire Department but it is not considered suspicious. Initial damage to the structure’s contents has been estimated at $400,000 with structural damage of $100,000 for total loss of approximately $500,000.

As the fire’s investigation continues, city staff will be working with the business on temporary relocation possibilities and recovery options.

Two small brush fire near the old Waste Treatment Plant quickly contained

Elijo Fire

Photo: Brockett

A small brush fire near the old Waste Treatment Plant (Dump) on San Elijo Road was quickly contained today. About 1/8th of an acre was burned. A 2nd spot fire was also contained in the same area it also burned about an 1/8th of an acre.

San Marcos, Elfin Forest, Carlsbad, and CalFire fire crews all responded quickly! Air support was canceled in route.

The cause of the fires is under investigation.

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