Catching Up with the Community Fire Safe Councils

The Yolo County Fire Safe Council (YCFSC) is a county-wide forum consisting of local fire districts, community members, landowners, and other emergency officials to develop, plan, and educate about wildfire prevention in the county. To support our county-wide work, community Fire Safe Councils are grassroots, resident-led groups that work to create more fire resilient neighborhoods. In Yolo County, there are two active community Fire Safe Councils in the high fire area of western Yolo County: the Capay Valley Emergency Response Auxiliary and Fire Safe Council (CVERA) and the West Winters Fire Safe Council (WWFSC).

Both CVERA and WWFSC are community-led, grassroots groups that work to educate and mobilize their neighborhoods for wildfire prevention and preparedness. These local Fire Safe Councils know the unique challenges facing their communities which helps inform the county-wide Fire Safe Council on key issues and funding needs. Since 2021, both local Fire Safe Councils organized their communities to solicit input for the Yolo County Community Wildfire Protection Plan, hosted Team Rubicon for vegetation management projects, assisted Yolo County Office of Emergency Services with project planning for fuels reduction on private property, hosted monthly meetings, and so much more. In honor of Wildfire Preparedness month, we are catching up with the local Fire Safe Councils to highlight their efforts for community wildfire resilience.

CVERA members and folks from the community attend a Community Wildfire Protection Plan meeting where attendees provided input for priority projects and areas of concern.
WWFSC members and local community members attend a Community Wildfire Protection Plan meeting to learn more about the CWPP and provide input on priority projects.

The Capay Valley Emergency Response Auxiliary (CVERA) consists of community members living in the rural communities of Capay Valley in northwest Yolo County. Recently, in partnership with the Capay Valley Fire Protection District, CVERA purchased equipment and tools for defensible space and fuels reduction projects throughout their region. In their community outreach events, CVERA identified a need for assistance for older community members or folks with disabilities that may not be able to prepare their own defensible space. In late April, CVERA volunteers hosted a workday to help a neighbor with their defensible space. Volunteers mowed grasses, cut down weeds, and trimmed back ladder fuels.

A before photo of the property.
An after shot of the property without a large island of overgrown vegetation.
CVERA volunteers with a local neighbor and landowner where they hosted their recent defensible space workday.

The West Winters Fire Safe Council (WWFSC) consists of neighborhoods outside of Winters along Highway 128. The WWFSC received grant funding for the creation of community base maps that would help firefighters during wildfires. Because WWFSC is no stranger to wildfires and evacuations, (the region experienced 6 wildfires over a 7 year period from 2014-2021), they identified a need for community base maps that assist mutual aid firefighters in identifying where homes and critical resources are located regardless of visibility and conditions. These community-base maps will be available via QR code signs located throughout communities so firefighters can scan the QR codes and see their location and the general community. During wildfires, firefighters can come from all over California and are not familiar with communities or local geography. These community base maps will help bridge that gap to protect neighborhoods, fire resources, and firefighters.

On May 4th, the Yolo County Fire Safe Council joined West Winters Fire Safe Council at a Wildfire Preparedness Fair at Lake Solano Park hosted by Solano Fire Safe Council. WWFSC unveiled their new logo and banner and hosted a table to chat with local community members about wildfire prevention measures.

Tanya Meyer (left), County Coordinator of the Yolo County Fire Safe Council, with two WWFSC volunteers at the Wildfire Preparedness Day on May 4, 2024.
WWFSC volunteers stand in front of their new logo and banner at the Wildfire Preparedness Day.

Additionally, both CVERA and WWFSC have been hosting community meetings to discuss forming a Firewise communities in their regions. Firewise USA communities is a National Fire Protection Association program that provides Firewise certification to communities that plan and perform wildfire risk reduction projects. Firewise certification not only helps communities increase ignition resistance of their homes, but it can also help with obtaining home insurance and decreasing costs, a problem that has plagued communities living in high fire areas all over California, including the Capay Valley and neighborhoods west of Winters.

To get in touch with CVERA, reach out to capayvalleyera@gmail.com. To get in touch with WWFSC, reach out to wwintersfsc@gmail.com.

The Yolo County Fire Safe Council is so lucky to have dedicated members like WWFSC and CVERA that help advance our mission of community-based wildfire preparedness!