Business Buzz -July 2019

(Elana O'Loskey, Photographer)
Fire Ready owner Tim Opdyke works with his team to assess fire risk and provide fuel reduction for individual homes.

Fire Ready: Fire Fuel Reduction Management
    Tim Opdyke is a third-generation Orindan with 20 years of experience as a firefighter so he knows a bit about what fires do from the ground up and how to stop them.
    He opened Fire Ready (FR) in May with offices in Orinda because he has kids at Miramonte High School. Few people would disagree that there is a real threat of fire in Lamorinda. Opdyke offers resources and crews staffed by experienced local experts who understand how to create defensible spaces to help save houses.
    He recommends that in general annual grasses and weeds be trimmed by the end of the rainy season. After that, throughout the year people need to open up their thick understory, canopy of trees and perennial shrubs. Good timing for this is in the months of December, January and February as it’s easier to do the work in cool weather.
    Fire season begins at the end of the rainy season, anywhere from April through May. Some city ordinances list specific dates when abatement work must be completed; for example, in Orinda it is June 15. It seems most people’s resources for clearing their property in preparation for fire season consists of what Opdyke calls “mow and blow” gardeners for weed removal or tree experts who want to take out trees. He believes those practices are inadequate preparation whereas what FR offers is comprehensive.
    FR gives homeowners an individual consultation of their property and a bid to get the work done. The plan could include cutting back weeds, grass and vegetation, reducing fire fuel laddering, removing combustible material, trimming or removing trees, checking exterior vents, eaves and decks and cleaning roofs and gutters. They keep track of local ordinances to ensure home owners are in compliance.
    Opdyke says he wants people to know about the National Fire Protection Association’s Firewise USA program which teaches people how to adapt to living with wildfire and encourages neighbors to work together to take action to prevent losses. Visit for more information.
    The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, CAL FIRE, created an app called Ready For Wildfire. It provides alerts on active wildfires and is available at the App store and on Google Play. Find out more at
    For more information on Fire Ready, call 925-222-5939, email or go to

(Elana O'Loskey, Photographer)
Young students of Taekwondo exchange bows with their instructor John Drath, owner of the Lamorinda Martial Arts Studio in Orinda.

Lamorinda Martial Arts Studio
    On any Thursday night from 7:30 to 8:30 p.m., you’ll find owner/operator John Drath and one of his adult women black belt assistant instructors teaching a free drop-in self-defense class for women at the Lamorinda Martial Arts Studio (LMAS) in Orinda.
    Their aim is to develop each woman’s physical arsenal of technique and movement as well as heightened environmental awareness techniques and knowledge of proven defense safety.
    They say their goal in providing a fun and safe place for women to learn self defense is that each woman feels empowered and confident. The only requirement is filling out a release form and wearing appropriate athletic clothing that allows for martial arts movement and exercise.
    Drath says he and his team operate under the motto “Be the change you want to see.”
    LMAS has offered Taekwondo classes in a spacious studio for children and adults, daytime and evening, year round since 2002. Drath and staff members have primary experience in Olympic style Taekwondo. All have extensive experience competing in world-class martial arts organizations and leagues sanctioned by the Olympic committee. The committee has competitions and teams from more than 300 countries. Tens of thousands of competitors all over the world train and compete each year to represent their countries in international competition.
    Head instructor Master Sandesh Gurung is a fourth degree black belt and represented Nepal on its national team and was ranked 63rd in the world at the height of his competitive career. Sandesh’s father competed in the Olympics, represented Nepal on the national team in three world championships and earned a bronze medal in the U.S. Open.
    Drath, who grew up in Orinda, is a fourth degree black belt; Gurung senior was his first international level coach. At the end of his competitive career Drath was ranked 112th in the world for his weight class. He was the alternate to represent the U.S. national team in the world championship and has five national medals, while placing in the top eight of his weight class for over a decade.
    Kris Uy, who trained with Drath as a youth, is now Drath’s training partner and an instructor. He was the heavy weight national team member for the Philippines and was undefeated nationally for seven years straight. He won the Swedish Open and at the height of his career was ranked 23rd in the world for his weight class. All instructors cross train in a variety of ways including boxing, wrestling, judo and more.
    The delivery of what is taught, says Studio Administrator Jason Alvelais, is done in a very structured and precise way. “For example, instructors are well versed in age-appropriate modification of the training for young children’s classes. There the emphasis is to use their training as a vehicle for life skills development. They learn character habits that eventually turn into life skill sets they will carry with them for the rest of their lives,” says Alvelais.
    The studio is at 1 Orinda Way, Suite 6. For more information call 925-386-6310, email or go to for class schedules.

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