Meeting Summary

Humboldt County Fire Safe Council

February 10, 2003

Previous Menu

Members Attending
Members Absent
Others Attending
Consultants Attending
Introductions
MFPP Overview
MFPP Goals & Objectives Changes
Other Discussion
Local FSC Update
Service Capabilities
Next Meeting/Adjournment

The second meeting of the Humboldt County Fire Safe Council (FSC) was held on February 10, 2003, from 2:00 P.M. to 5:20 P.M., at the U.S. Forest Service Six Rivers National Forest conference room, 1330 Bayshore Way, Eureka, California.

Fire Safe Council Members Attending:

Kirk Gothier, Humboldt County Community Development Services, Assistant Planning Director

Will Harling, Orleans/Somers Bar Fire Safe Council and Orleans Fire & Rescue

Frank Hizer, Fortuna Fire Protection District, Fire Chief

Debra Lake, Fruitland Volunteer Fire Department, Board Chair

Glenn Ziemer, Humboldt Fire District #1, Assistant Fire Chief

Lucy Salazar, USFS, Six Rivers National Forest, Vegetation Management & Air Coordinator

Ian Sigman, Honeydew Volunteer Fire Company and Lower Mattole Fire Safe Council

Dave White, Arcata Fire Department and Humboldt County Fire Chiefs Association Representative

Fire Safe Council Members Absent:

Gary Risling, Hoopa Fire Department, Wildlands Fire Manager

Dick Goings, CDF Unit Chief and County Fire Warden

Public and Agency Representatives Attending:

Kevin O’Neil, CDF District Chief

Laura Chapman, USFS, Six Rivers National Forest, Rural Community Assistance Coordinator

Yvonne Everett, Humboldt State University, Dept. of Natural Resources, Professor

Karen Hans, U.S. Dept. of Commerce, National Marine Fisheries Service, Fishery Biologist

Tracy Katelman, Lower Mattole Fire Safe Council.

Kim Price, CDF, Fire Captain and Pre-fire Planner

Hugh Scanlon, CDF, Fire Planning and Prevention Battalion Chief

Mishka Straka, Southern Humboldt Fire Safe Council, Institute for Sustainable Forestry

Stephen Underwood, California Department of Parks and Recreation

Judy Welles, USDA, Natural Resource Conservation Service

Michael Wood, Institute for Sustainable Forestry

County Fire Safe Council Coordinator / Master Fire Protection Plan Consultant

George Williamson, Planwest Partners, Principal Planner

Bob Burnham, RNB Spatial Solutions Inc., Chief Operations Officer

Cris Plocher, Planwest Partners, Planner

Call to Order and Introductions

The meeting was called to order at 2:00 P.M. by the Fire Safe Council Vice Chair, Will Harling and self introductions were made by the Council members and the audience.

The Fire Safe Council Coordinator, George Williamson with Planwest Partners, reviewed the meeting agenda. Each FSC member received an information packet prior to the FSC meeting. The Coordinator asked FSC members to check for any needed revisions or corrections to the membership information (Attachment 1) and the FSC December 16, 2002 meeting summary (Attachment 2). A FSC member mentioned that he would like to see in the meeting summary a list of action items and persons responsible for them.

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Master Fire Protection Plan (MFPP) Overview 

The FSC Coordinator provided an overview of the County’s MFPP outline (Attachment 3) and the MFPP Goals and Objectives (Attachment 4). Definitions will be added to the Fire Plan document. Some questions were asked whether the General Plan and MFPP will correspond with one another and how often will the MFPP be updated? Kirk Gothier responded that the overall General Plan process will take about two years to complete. Currently, there are technical studies being done for the General Plan. Options will be considered in the planning process along with an option that is recommended and then presented to the Board of Supervisors. Adopted MFPP recommendations will be incorporated into an Element of the county’s General Plan. The Fire Plan can be updated every five years.

Master Fire Protection Plan Goals and Objectives

The FSC Coordinator reviewed the (first draft) MFPP goals and objectives identified by the FSC membership. The definition of a goal is a general, overall, and ultimate purpose or aim that will guide the FSC’s long range strategic planning efforts. The definition of an objective is a measurable statement of a desired future condition toward which strategic planning efforts are directed and is time specific, concise and achievable. Any goal can have multiple objectives. The MFPP goals and objectives are intended to reflect the County’s role in fire safe planning. The MFPP goals identified by the FSC so far include: 1) Fire Protection, 2) Local Organizational Support, 3) Risk Assessment and Allocation of Fire Protection Resources, 4) Fuel Load Reduction and Modification Activities, 5) Fire Prevention and Public Education, and 6) Community Fire Prevention and Resource Protection Funding and Technical Assistance. Discussion followed.

A FSC member noted that the definition of fire protection needed to be clarified, since it may vary depending on the community and public expectations. Fire protection refers to all aspects of fire service, including emergency response, fire prevention and suppression activities, and fire preparedness programs. It was suggested to replace the word fire protection with fire service.

The following changes were made to the Fire Plan Goals and Objectives. The words underlined are proposed to be added:

Goal 1 – Change to: Assure adequate fire protection for new and existing development people, property and community.

Objective 1.1 - Add federal in with state agreements.

Objective 1.1 - Add post-fire planning with supporting mutual aid agreements.

Goal 2 – Add local Fire Safe Councils with support of local fire organization efforts.

Where "periodically" occurs in the objectives, replace it with "every five years".

Objective 4.2 – Add federal along with state, and local government agencies....

Objective 4.2 – Add vegetation management program plans with the coordination among federal, state, and local agencies.

Objective 4.2 – Add condition new subdivisions to control vegetation alongside roads...

Objective 5.1 – Add BLM, local Fire Safe Councils, local schools, and volunteers with providing community education.

Objective 5.2 – Clarify by replacing fire protected with the words within a fire protection district.

Add Objective 6.5 – Provide resources for grant writing and funding pursuits related fire service activities.

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Other Discussion

Discussions took place on a variety of topics, as follows:

The survey to Local Fire Organizations has been sent. It was brought to our attention that several local volunteer fire departments have not been sent the survey. The County database was used for the initial survey mailing, which did not have all the local volunteer fire departments. This database will be expanded based on input from the FSC.

A Trinity County consultant is looking into facilitating property owners to be able to do fuel reduction activities on their property without being required to file timber harvest plans and instead be allowed to do environmental impact reports. For example, a group of property owners could coordinate their fuels reduction activities in this manner. The state is looking into this possibility also. The consultant has a website with this information.

Tracy Katelman serves as a local representative on the State Fire Plan work group. She presented information on FEMA funding available. The county has until November 2003 to have a Fire Plan ready in order to qualify for FEMA funding in November of 2004. FEMA funding will require OES approval. An excel spreadsheet will be made available to conduct the cost-benefit analysis in order to assist with qualifying for funding. The elements involved include: planning process, community involvement, risk assessment, (pre-disaster) mitigations, and monitoring. Tracy will check to see what minimum information needs to be provided in order to qualify for FEMA funding. In the mean time check the FEMA website for funding information. Also, the California Fire Alliance website will have BLM and CDF fire maps available in the near future.

By May or June the State Fire Plan Work Group will have information on how to help with a standardized list of criteria (template) for a Fire Plan to coincide with the State Fire Plan, which in turn coincides with the National Fire Plan.

The topic of insurance coverage for local fire organizations was discussed. Insurance and liability costs are increasing significantly and some rural areas can have problems in getting fire insurance due to gaps in fire service areas. It was suggested by a FSC member to invite a local insurance representative to the FSC meeting to discuss the topic of fire insurance coverage, such as eligibility, coverage types, cost, etc. The Fire Safe Coordinator will contact local insurance agent and fire department volunteer Carl Pellatz to seek potential speakers. It was mentioned that insurance companies now are doing their own GIS based quadrants to determine fire rating for underwriting purposes, even though fire causes only about 4 percent of insurance losses.

Workers’ compensation costs went up 25 percent for the Fruitland Volunteer Fire Department. The suggestion was made to look into using other workers’ compensation coverage than that with the state, such as the Fire Association Self Insurance System (FASIS), which is a self insured and self-funded program that can offer competitive rates to member fire districts. Another insurance program is the Fire Agencies Insurance Risk Authority (FAIRA), which offers general liability, auto liability, property insurance, etc. Since the topics of local fire organization costs and budget issues are a recurring theme, the next FSC meeting should address how local fire organizations fiscally function.

The Humboldt County Planning staff and the FSC Coordinator will coordinate before each meeting to prepare information for FSC on what has been done so far and what is planned to be done in the future in the FSC process.

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Fire Planning Activities and Local Fire Safe Council Update

The FSC Coordinator noted several people were scheduled to present information to the FSC on fire planning at county, state and national levels, starting with County staff.

USFS representative Laura Chapman discussed the Fire Wise Workshops, a two day event for all interested parties, hosted by the National Wildland Interface program. The registration fee is $50 to attend. She will look into the possibility of getting scholarships awarded to FSC members. The purpose of these workshops is to provide educational information on reducing fire hazards. She is proposing for the Humboldt County FSC to apply to host a workshop (possible at the River Walk in Fortuna) and seek volunteers. She will give the information to the FSC Coordinator who will distribute the information to the FSC members.

USFS/FSC representative Lucy Salazar discussed the annual publication called Living With Fire in the California Northwest, which serves to educate communities about fire related issues. This will be the second year for this educational insert in the Sunday newspapers scheduled to coincide with the Fire Safety Week of May 4th. She is requesting assistance with preparing this publications by seeking articles from the Humboldt County FSC and funding to cover the $7,500 cost to prepare and publish it. Last year Hoopa paid for it.

The Lower Mattole Fire Safe Council representative Tracy Katelman provided an update on her Council’s activities. The Council has 10 members and has several ex officio members (State Parks, CDF, BLM, etc.). The have held a volunteer work day and submitted several Bureau of Land Management grants for fuel breaks and making strategic roads to Wilder Ridges, downtown Petrolia, and Panther Gap fire safe. The Lower Mattole Fire Plan is on the Fire Safe Council web.

The Orleans/Somes Bar Fire Safe Council representative Will Harling provided an update on his Council’s activities. He mentioned that there are several fuel reduction projects underway with assistance from sponsoring work days. Programmatic agreements are being pursued. Also, the FSC has applied for a couple of grants, which require a certain level of matching funds (from in-kind or direct donations and work days). This may require NEPA/CEQA reporting.

The Southern Humboldt Fire Safe Council representative, Mishka Straka, provided an update on his Council’s activities. They are working on a biomass feasibility study and are open to ideas and suggestions on pursuing this project. He is also interested exploring pellet fuel manufacturing as a source of energy from wood by-products. The FSC has also applied for a couple of Forest Service grants.

Planwest Partners staff, Cris Plocher, provided an update on the Willow Creek Fire Safe Council, based on a telephone conversation with Mark Rowley. The Willow Creek FSC will have a final fire protection planning document prepared in the near future, which they will share with us when it is ready. The Fire Plan document will involve fire education and identification of primary areas for fire protection. Five people from the community serve on the Council. CDF and the Forest Service serve in an advisory capacity. The FSC has had 5 or 6 community meetings to gather input on fire prevention and protection. The FSC has successfully pursued $62,000 in Option 9 funding through the Forest Service to implement their initial project, called the Lower Trinity Hazard Fuels Reduction Program. It involves four pilot sites, two of which are private, another is a community site, and the other is a federal site. Mr. Rowley’s final comments summarized the FSC planning and implementation as an ongoing process, which can be frustrating at times, knowing that it will take a while to get some of the areas at the desired level of fire protection.

Mike Wood provided a handout with information on the Institute for Sustainable Forestry to sponsor a series of workshops and forums in Humboldt and Mendocino Counties to bring together a variety of people with different opinions and experience to exchange views, create more understanding, and discuss concerns pertaining to fire hazard reduction while preserving wildlife habitat. Other topics of interest include: the fire impact on rural subdivisions, land use decisions, court proceedings, and exploring options, such as conservation easements, corridor planning, water allocations and protections, road locations and construction, as well as other issues within subdivision development.

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Service Capabilities, Risk Assessment, and Community Assets

Bob Burnham presented a power point presentation that described Risk Assessment process and the software program that is used as a tool to conduct fire analysis, called Risk Assessment and Mitigation Strategies (RAMS). This analysis uses historical trends of fire data to come up with recommendations, which will be incorporated as the Risk Assessment portion of the MFPP. Mr. Burnham also gave a recent example of reactive versus proactive fire planning.

Next Meeting

The next meeting is scheduled for Monday, March 10, 2003, from 1:00 P.M. to 4:00 P.M. to be held at the USFS Six Rivers National Forest conference room.

Adjournment

The Vice Chairperson adjourned the meeting at 5:20 P.M.