The Fire Safe Council of Monterey County’s mission is to help protect lives, property, and resources from the threat of wildfires.
This is important to every citizen and animal, domestic and wild, living in Monterey County due to our county’s unique risks:
• Numerous communities and developments are in or near wildland areas—what is known as the Wildland-Urban Interface—these areas are more susceptible to the rapid spread of wildfires from nearby vegetation.
• Diverse ecosystems, including forests, grasslands, and chaparral, which can serve as potential fuel sources for wildfires. Drought conditions and dry vegetation during the hot summer months can increase the risk of fire ignition and rapid fire spread.
• High winds from the mountains can quickly fan wildfires and cause them to spread at alarming rates.
• Climate change, which has contributed to prolonged droughts, higher temperatures, and more frequent and intense wildfires in California.
• Thunderstorms during dry periods can lead to lightning strikes, which can spark wildfires, especially in remote and inaccessible areas.
• Human-caused fires, such as campfires left unattended, discarded cigarettes, equipment sparks, and arson, are common factors in Monterey wildfire ignitions.
• Limited access and challenging terrain in some parts of Monterey County make it challenging for firefighting crews to access and control wildfires effectively.
• Overgrown and unmanaged vegetation in rural and urban areas can create fuel continuity, allowing fires to spread more easily.
• Limited water resources in some parts of the county can make firefighting efforts more difficult.
• Residential areas and communities near wildlands increase the potential for human and property exposure to wildfires.
• Coastal communities and narrow roads in certain areas of Monterey County can pose challenges during wildfire evacuations, especially if there is limited time to evacuate residents safely.
The Fire Safe Council for Monterey County is working to reduce these risks by:
• Educating residents about the importance of wildfire prevention measures, such as creating defensible space around homes, proper vegetation management, and fire-safe construction practices.
• Fostering a sense of community involvement and responsibility in wildfire safety. We encourage residents, businesses, local governments, and other organizations to work together in developing and implementing effective wildfire risk reduction strategies. This includes collaboration with government agencies, community groups, and fire departments.
• Finding and securing funding opportunities to support wildfire prevention and preparedness initiatives, allocating resources to projects that will have the most significant impact on reducing wildfire risks within Monterey County.
• Supporting vulnerable communities within the county that may face higher wildfire risks due to location or socioeconomic factors.
• Participating in long-term wildfire risk reduction planning to meet evolving challenges.
• Maintaining relationships with insurance companies and policymakers to consider the county's fire-safe initiatives, potentially leading to more favorable insurance rates and better wildfire-related policies.
The Fire Safe Council for Monterey County significantly plays a pivotal role in building a more fire-resilient Monterey County. Please join us in our efforts!
Fire Safe Council For Monterey County's (FSCMC) Big Idea is to 1) help strengthen the 38 existing Firewise communities in Monterey County by creating “Chipper Days,” and 2) encourage more neighborhoods to become “Firewise” by assisting at least 12 additional neighborhoods or communities over the next year.
Firewise USA is a national program that fosters education and action to reduce wildfire risks at the neighborhood level. FSCMC has been instrumental in developing Monterey’s Firewise chapters through quarterly roundtable workshops and by providing advice and direction about how to become a Firewise neighborhood/community. The partnership between FSCMC, Firewise communities, and fire agencies has created a powerful alliance at the grassroots level to shift the emphasis from defense to offense when it comes to educating residents about wildfires and how to protect their home and families.
In just three years, Monterey County has gone from zero chapters to 38.
The Monterey County Fire Protection District takes immense pride in being home to twenty-nine out of the thirty-six Firewise communities in Monterey County. The Firewise initiative has been transformative, fostering community preparation, nurturing neighborly bonds, and enhancing wildfire resilience. The Fire Safe Council for Monterey County (FSCMC) plays a crucial role in supporting neighborhood leaders interested in the Firewise program. Beyond the initial orientation, FSCMC remains engaged in the progress of the community by identifying and pursuing grant opportunities to tackle specific challenges faced by neighbors. Additionally, FSCMC facilitates collaboration between local fire agencies and neighborhood leaders, forging strong relationships and aligning common objectives. We are delighted to partner with the Firewise program and FSCMC. Together, we inspire our communities to take proactive steps in wildfire preparedness, equipping residents with the tools and knowledge to make a real difference in safeguarding our region against wildfires.
- David Sargenti