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Corona’s Wildfire Excellence

The City of Corona Fire Department is leading the charge relative to wildfire mitigation in Riverside County. Clearly, many fire departments and community groups are actively engaged in wildfire risk reduction – including MySafe:Riverside. With Corona Fire Marshal Cindi Schmitz managing the overall effort, a number of outstanding actions have been emerging, and the community is clearly the beneficiary of the work performed.

Corona Fire’s efforts speak to the power of community, and actively working to deliver results that will play a key role in creating stronger awareness and reducing risk for years to come. The were multiple neighborhoods at significant risk in Corona, but the steps taken are ones that every community should review and if appropriate, emulate.

There are two specific initiatives that speak to the overall effort being put forth by the Corona Fire Department: The creation of a California Fire Safe Council, and the development and publishing of a Community Wildfire Protection Plan.

In 2022, the fire department, after reviewing multiple options for engaging with their residents determined that the creation of a Fire Safe Council would best serve the various neighborhoods within the city. Unlike some Fire Safe Councils, which are based around a homeowner group, this one is citywide. All of the appropriate steps were taken to qualify – creating a civilian board of directors, establishing a non-profit status with the Internal Revenue Service, establishing objectives, and holding scheduling meetings. While none of this is really “difficult,” getting it done requires patience, diligence, and logistical abilities. Now, as the fire season of 2023 is ramping up, Corona Fire is migrating control over to the Corona Fire Safe Council’s civilian board. They remain engaged, as it MySafe:Riverside in a support capacity.

We’ll be helping the board of directors with planning related to grant applications, home hardening demonstrations and a possible wildfire safety fair. Overall, our role is to help them stay on track, establish deliverables that are trackable and sustainable, and to be a part of their overall effort to engage homeowners throughout the City of Corona.

The Corona Fire Department has also worked to produce an outstanding Community Wildfire Protection Plan, or CWPP. This type of plan is useful by fire agencies, but is most beneficial to the elected oversight of a community, as well as for sharing detailed information, maps, and planning for anyone living in at-risk areas within the geo boundaries defined by the plan.

While there is a printed CWPP, the magic of the Corona CWPP is the digital delivery variation that is up and running online. Produced in collaboration with SWCA Environmental Consultants and funded via a grant, the plan utilizes the database-driven mapping solution from ESRI. This digital storybook plan lays out the risk in each neighborhood, provides an overhead map, defines risks, significance when compared to the CalFire VHFSZ mapping for 2023, and provides a roadmap for risk reduction over time. Because it’s a digital plan, it can be updated at any time, and in essence becomes a “living document” that is more modern and effective than the old-fashioned print format still so prevalent across the Country.

You can view the Corona CWPP via this link: Corona CWPP Online

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