Tag Archives: Fire

San Marcos, CA: California fires and red flag warnings remind us to be prepared

The National Weather Service has issued a red flag warning for San Marcos and San Diego County through Wednesday, Nov. 14. Red flag warnings are designed to alert fire departments of the onset, or possible onset, of critical weather and dry conditions that could lead to rapid or dramatic increases in wildfire activity.

According to CALFIRE, the type of weather patterns forecasted for the area include low relative humidity, strong winds, dry fuels, the possibility of dry lightning strikes, or any combination of the above.

During heightened fire danger, CAL FIRE and San Marcos Fire Department will place additional firefighters on duty, staff more fire engines and keep more equipment on 24 hours a day to be able to respond to any new fires.

“Wildfires burning in Ventura, Los Angeles and Butte counties are a clear reminder that we are in a dangerous fire season, and that one could flare up any moment, especially with the forecasted Santa Ana winds heading to San Diego County,” said Fire Chief Brett VanWey.

To prepare, San Marcos Fire Department and the County of San Diego are recommending residents take a “Ready, Set, Go!” approach for peak fire season.

Homeowners are asked to get “ready” by creating or maintaining at least one hundred and fifty 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 can also get “ready” by making an emergency plan, gathering emergency supplies and making sure smoke detectors are in working condition.

If a fire breaks out, San Marcos residents can get “set” to evacuate by staying updated on the latest local safety information by visiting the city’s website, following San Marcos @sanmarcoscity on FacebookTwitter and Instagram; registering for e-notifications; and turning radios to AM 1610.

Finally, if told to do so by a public safety official or you feel unsafe, be ready to “go” by taking the evacuation steps necessary to give your family and home the best chance of surviving a 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.

It is important that residents stay connected before, during and after emergencies.

In addition to city information channels, residents can register cell phones with San Diego County’s free AlertSanDiego notification system by visiting www.readysandiego.org to sign up. Once registered, residents will receive calls or texts with local emergency information.

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.

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San Marcos Fire Department responds to a small vegetation fire

San Marcos Fire Department responds to a small vegetation fire

At approximately 9 am on Friday, Aug. 17, the San Marcos Fire Department responded to a small vegetation near 2430 S. Rancho Santa Fe Road. Crews contained the blaze to a 50 by 50-foot area and extinguished the fire by approximately 10 am.

While brief evacuations were issued out of an abundance of caution, no injuries or significant damage has been reported. The fire’s cause is currently under investigation; there have been unconfirmed reports of a discarded cigarette thrown from a vehicle according to the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department.

Eastbound S. Rancho Santa Fe Road at Las Flores Drive will be closed until noon so that the Fire Department can clear partially burned trees and mop up the area.

 

This fire serves as a critical reminder of the importance of wildfire preparedness. All homeowners must maintain 150 feet of defensible space and residents should have an emergency plan in place.

To learn more about emergency preparedness, visit www.san-marcos.net/beprepared. To learn more about preparing your home for wildfire, visit www.san-marcos.net/wildfiresafety.

Listening Sessions on Ambulance Services for San Marcos Area

EMS SERVICE AREA BACKGROUND

The San Marcos EMS Service Area is currently an exclusive operating area (EOA) pursuant to California Health and Safety Code Section 201.224. From 1988 until 2001, the services in the EOA were delivered through a joint contract consisting of private enterprise Advanced Life Support (ALS) transport units and ALS fire department first responder engine companies. In 2001, the San Marcos Fire Department (SMFD) began providing ALS transport services in San Marcos as a sub-contractor. In 2009, the SMFD was awarded the contract to provide ALS transport services to San Marcos residents.

The City of San Marcos is a Charter City operating under a Council/Manager form of government. The City encompasses an area of approximately 24 square miles and the Fire Protection District adds approximately nine (9) square miles for a total service area of 33 square miles. The San Marcos Fire Protection District became a subsidiary district to the City of San Marcos in 1987. In 1988, the City added paramedic services to the community.

EMS SERVICE AREA COMMUNITY PROFILE

The residential population of the City is nearing 100,000 with a steady estimated 11 percent population growth since 2010. In addition to the City population, approximately 20,000 residents are located within the Fire Protection District, for a total of nearly 120,000 residents being served by the SMFD. The service area’s daytime population increases to approximately 160,000. The San Marcos population is growing four (4) percent faster than the other neighboring cities and almost two (2) percent faster than the San Diego region with a projected growth of 6.1 percent by 2020. It is projected that by the year 2030, the City of San Marcos population is expected to grow by more than 15 percent.

EMS SERVICE AREA SERVICES

San Marcos EOA calls for service are dispatched through the North County Dispatch Joint Power Authority (NCDJPA). Participation in this regionally-based JPA supports and enables the shared use of other area agencies ALS assets through an automatic aid “boundary drop” agreement that utilizes the closest transport resource concept.

The EOA ALS Transport Services contract requires that ALS ambulance response times not exceed nine (9) minutes, 90 percent of the time. ALS Engine and Truck company response times also adhere to strict response time expectations, with an eight (8) minute response time required 90 percent of the time. The SMFD consistently meets or exceeds these response time standards. The Department has steadily experienced significant call volume increases since 2014. Throughout 2017, the Department responded to 11,490 calls which represent an increase of 4 percent from 2016. During 2014 and 2015, the Department experienced a 22 percent and 11 percent increase in calls from the previous year, respectively.

SMFD currently provides ALS transport service to the City of San Marcos and San Marcos Fire Protection District residents. The ALS transport service is a no-subsidy service in San Marcos, meaning the City does not provide monetary support to the provider. Rather, all revenues needed for program operations are derived from billing for services provided. In order to provide the highest level of service to the residents of San Marcos, the Department staffs four (4) ALS Engine companies, one (1) ALS Truck company and five (5) ALS Ambulances 24-hours a day, 365 days a year. In addition to five (5) ALS ambulances staffed with a minimum of one (1) Firefighter-Paramedic and one (1) Emergency Medical

Technician, every Engine and Truck company is staffed with a minimum of one (1) Firefighter-Paramedic and/or Fire Engineer-Paramedic. SMFD employs 105 personnel including those assigned to Emergency Services, Fire Prevention and Administrative Services. Fifty-six (56) of the seventy-five (75) field personnel are licensed, Paramedics.

EMS SERVICE AREA PROGRAM MANAGEMENT

To provide continuous EMS program oversight, the EMS program is managed within the Department’s Emergency Services Division. Under the direction of the Fire Chief, EMS Program leadership and management is provided by a Fire Division Chief, an EMS Program Coordinator (R.N./P.M.) and a Emergency Services Support Specialist. The Department staffs a 24-hour on-duty Battalion Chief to provide field level supervision over all personnel and incident activity.

California’s EMS authority has recognized SMFD as a Continuing Education (CE) Provider for both Paramedics and Emergency Medical Technicians. The Department maintains trained and certified instructors to deliver these CE classes. In addition, SMFD also maintains a comprehensive ALS Quality Assurance and Quality Improvement Program (QA/QI), designed to identify and address potential or existing clinical, operational or equipment concerns. To learn from experiences and improve upon overall EMS service delivery, QA/QI process outcomes are routinely incorporated into CE case review training sessions.

In addition to providing multiple opportunities and platforms for community public education, the Department also maintains innovative program partnerships and customer feedback outreach efforts. Community outreach events provide education related to health, safety and various life-saving techniques. The Department promotes programs that provide specialized medical referrals and associated services in order to integrate a whole health service approach. By adhering to a whole health service approach, the entire patient is evaluated, not just their immediate concern, thereby promoting an advanced level of care for San Marcos residents.

SUMMARY

Through dedicated leadership, integrity, safety, competency, and customer service the San Marcos Fire Department has provided emergency medical services since 2001. SMFD encourages and maintains continual education and training, keeping personnel current on all certifications, licenses, protocols, and best practices. Two-thirds of SMFD workforce are licensed Paramedics, creating a highly trained medical team on scene. Incorporating education and training, SMFD manages a quality assurance program overseeing emergency medical services while maintaining excellent customer service. SMFD provides community outreach education and professional emergency medical services connecting, empowering, educating, and acting as advocates for members of the community and offering resources to improve overall health.

SMFD is prepared to grow with the population and continue to provide innovative, cost-effective and consistent service to all members of the San Marcos community. The Department looks forward to continuing to improve and is always seeking avenues to increase our level of service to the community.

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

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.

San Marcos residents encouraged to attend annual Fourth of July Firework Extravaganza

Leave fireworks to the experts

Residents encouraged to attend annual Fourth of July Firework Extravaganza

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, 1587 Linda Vista Drive, on Tuesday, July 4.

Entertainment and festivities begin at 6 pm with the firework show at 9 pm. The evening’s free entertainment featuring Liquid Blue, a show band, will begin at 6 pm.  Children’s activities include face painting, party jumps and more.  Food concessions will include hot dogs, hamburgers, tacos, snow cones and more.

“Offered for more than 36 years of spirited family fun, this annual event offers residents a way to safely enjoy fireworks while celebrating our nation’s independence,” said Community Services Director Buck Martin. “With children’s activities, food for purchase and a great pyrotechnic display, this event has something for everyone.”

The fireworks show is entirely dependent on community donations.  To contribute, please send tax-deductible donations by June 26 to: San Marcos Fireworks Fund, 3 Civic Center Drive, San Marcos 92069.  Donations of $25 or more will receive a commemorative item.

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 or to donate to the fireworks show, visit www.gofundme.com/SM2017Fireworks.

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.

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