Safe Community Project


Supporting Fire Safe Councils in Riverside

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The Riverside Division of The Safe Community Project, also known as MySafe:Riverside, has been actively working to support the few existing Fire Safe Councils in Riverside. Currently, there are only a handful of surviving Fire Safe Councils in the area, and our goal is to assist them in being better supported while also creating new councils in at-risk areas within the county.

Woman presenting a paper document to an audience of men and women.

Our wildfire coordinators provide informative presentations on wildfire preparedness, home-hardening techniques, and defensible space activities. With thousands of homes located in areas that are at high risk of wildfires, Riverside County is considered one of the most vulnerable counties in the United States when it comes to wildfires.

Burning remains of a car fire as man puts out fire with water hose.

The risks associated with wildfires in this region include:

  1. Climate Conditions: Riverside County experiences a Mediterranean climate with hot, dry summers and mild, wetter winters. The dry season, which typically runs from late spring through early fall, presents a high risk for wildfires due to low humidity levels and high temperatures.
  2. Vegetation: The county has abundant vegetation, including chaparral, grasslands, and forests, which provide significant fuel for fires, especially after wet winters that lead to rapid plant growth.
  3. Unpredicable but also Predictable Winds: Strong, dry, and frequently hot winds are common in Riverside County in the afternoon. While their timing is predictable, their strength and direction are very unpredictable. These wind events, such as the “Lake Elsinore Effect,” can quickly spread wildfires by carrying embers over long distances, igniting new fire spots that are far away from the original blaze.
  4. Urban-Wildland Interface: Riverside County has extensive areas where homes and communities border natural wilderness, known as the urban-wildland interface. These areas are particularly vulnerable to wildfires as residential developments push into these fire-prone zones.
  5. Human Activities: Human activities, such as equipment use, arson, and poorly managed land-clearing burns, contribute significantly to the ignition of wildfires in the area.
  6. Drought: Periodic droughts exacerbate the wildfire risk by drying out vegetation and making it more flammable. Riverside County, like much of California, has experienced severe droughts in recent years.
  7. Inadequate Mitigation Measures: In some areas, there may be insufficient mitigation measures in place, such as inadequate clearance around properties, poor community planning, or lack of resources for fire prevention and control.
  8. Infrastructure Risk: Wildfires in Riverside County also pose a threat to critical infrastructure, including power lines, which can both cause and be damaged by fires, leading to widespread power outages.
A Murrieta Fire and Rescue fire engine parked on a street.

Preparation and Mitigation Efforts:
To mitigate these risks, MySafe:Riverside is working on several strategies to improve resilience and reduce the risk of homes burning and people being injured or worse:

  • Fuel Reduction: Mechanical removal of brush, including “chipper days,” home hardening,  and maintaining defensible space around homes.
  • Building Codes: Enforcing building codes that require fire-resistant materials and designs. This is being done by our fire department partners.
  • Community Preparedness Programs: Initiatives like the Ready, Set, Go! program educate residents about how to prepare for wildfires.
  • Emergency Services: MySafe:Riverside is providing are fire department partners, such as the Riverside County Fire Department with data on our engagement with homeowners and homeowner and property owner groups.
  • Alert Systems: Supporting the implementation of robust emergency alert systems to provide timely warnings to residents.
  • Community Wildfire Protection Plans: While these plans can be large and expensive, MySafe:Riverside is working on a short, inexpensive template to assist communities with planning that defines the risk and available solutions.

These measures are crucial for reducing the impact of wildfires and protecting the lives and properties of residents in Riverside County. MySafe:Riverside is actively working with these varied groups to coordinate resilience and threat reduction activities.

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