Big Changes for Orinda’s Fire Adapted Community with Plenty of Tools to Use
The transformation of Orinda into a Fire Adapted Community is happening. The community, the City and Moraga Orinda Fire District (MOFD) have worked together, creating fabulous tools for the rest of us.
A critical milestone transpired when Measure R funds underwrote the hiring of James Duff to be the community outreach and education coordinator. His background suggests he would be the perfect addition to pull together the disparate threads of fire prevention activity already in place to move Orinda’s fire adaptation forward.
Duff comes to us via the Austin Texas Fire Department where, as the fire adapted communities program coordinator, he organized new Firewise communities and developed outreach content. Duff is also one of only 72 national fire prevention association certified wildfire mitigation specialists in the U.S.
He said the key is “showing people they are already doing the work. It’s just a matter of being more intentional.”
He collaborates with community groups, MOFD, the Orinda Firewise Council and agencies that intersect with wildfire mitigation efforts to develop and implement innovative solutions to mitigate the threat of wildfire.
Duff encourages communication from others.
“My door is open,” he said. “I’m available and very happy to talk with anyone who’s interested.”
Ongoing mitigation efforts continue.
Firewise leaders are creating a “Starter Kit,” including access to a mentor for folks who would like to put together a Firewise group in their neighborhoods. The process is not hard, but much more enjoyable to go through when you have others to help.
Another Firewise group is experimenting with a newsletter to go out to the community at large, whether neighborhoods are Firewise or not.
MOFD has a basket of tools developed for a one-stop shop service.
First, get a free assessment of your property’s vulnerability to a wildfire from the Fire Adapted Community Ambassador Program (mofd.org/community/outreach-programs/fire-adapted-community-ambassador-program).
With this assessment, residents will know what to do to be compliant with the fire code (mofd.org/our-district/fuels-mitigation-fire-prevention/hazardous-wildfire-fuels-reduction-program).
You can get the work done with a contractor from the MOFD list (mofd.org/our-district/fuels-mitigation-fire-prevention/hazardous-wildfire-fuels-reduction-program/weed-abatement-contractor-list) and use their free chipper service (reserve.chipperday.com/Orinda).
Best of all, MOFD has a Home Hardening Grant (mofd.org/our-district/fuels-mitigation-fire-prevention/home-hardening-grant-program) to offer reimbursements of $600 or more for the purchase of ember-resistant vents. If one chooses not to purchase vents, MOFD has steel mesh which can be installed over current vents for free. Just stop by a station where personnel will cut the mesh.
This same recipe can be used to take advantage of the City of Orinda’s new Fire Fuels Reduction Incentive Program (www.cognitoforms.com/CityOfOrinda1/MeasureRFireFuelsReductionIncentivePilotProgramApplication), which is a matching grant of up to $599. To qualify, residents must be on an evacuation route.
The application shows which streets are evacuation routes. Even if one doesn’t qualify for this incentive, residents should still go through the process to make homes more wildfire resistant.
With so many pieces in place, and with the resident participation, 2023 can be the year Orindans proudly say Orinda is a Fire Adapted Community.
Melanie Light can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.