CONCORD, CALIF. – Contra Costa County Fire Protection District (Con Fire) today announced return to full fire responses for all grass, vegetation, and wildland fires across the District because of the early arrival of seasonal fire weather. Full responses consist of a minimum of five firefighting apparatus and crews. Since December 2021, such responses had been reduced to a single engine based on the reduced threat during winter months.
Con Fire is preparing for a challenging wildfire season and urges all residents to do the same to protect their families, homes and neighbors. If not already done, now is the time to ensure properties meet or exceed all weed abatement and defensible space requirements. These are the single most important things owners can do to ensure firefighters have the time and ability to better defend their properties from wildfires that may occur.
In addition to increasing response levels for all grass, vegetation and wildland fires, Con Fire is also adjusting staffing levels, including two of its Crew 12, 16-person hand crew teams, allowing for seven-day-per-week availability.
A major improvement in wildfire readiness this year is the implementation of the Zonehaven digital evacuation planning and management tool by all County fire and law enforcement agencies. This new tool streamlines planning, conduct and communication of evacuations for all disasters by creating discrete evacuation zones for every area of the county. Residents are encouraged to learn and note their zone for reference in an emergency by visiting cwsalerts.com/know-your-zone/.
“Seasonal fire danger is once again upon us, earlier than in recent years, and likely potentially more dangerous with recent fire activity and behaviors normally not seen until June or July,” said Fire Chief Lewis Broschard, Contra Costa County Fire Protection District. “Forecasts are for above normal significant wildland fire potential from May through August for the Bay Area. I urge all residents to prepare for the possibility of wildfires now by practicing weed abatement and defensible space creation and reviewing your own plans for evacuation, including learning your new evacuation zone.”
“Recent County experience shows the resident who abates weeds, creates defensible space, and hardens structures to resist wind blown embers today can truly make a difference. Owner preparation of properties is the single most effective thing that can be done to save homes and businesses from the threat of wildfires,” said Assistant Chief and Fire Marshal Chris Bachman, Contra Costa County Fire Protection District. “Investment in fire safe preparation today can buy the time tomorrow for firefighters to arrive and protect structures from wildfire loss.”
In 2021, across Contra Costa County, more than 60 residents were displaced from their homes due to wind-driven wild fires burning into, and destroying, homes. In each of these cases, inadequate weed abatement and/or defensible space contributed to the damage or loss of structures. Conversely, in an early season vegetation fire almost one year ago in Pittsburg, steps taken by home owners to protect their properties contributed to what might otherwise have been the loss of multiple homes.
A significant contributor to early arrival of fire weather is season rain totals well below historically normal amounts. Recent late season storms failed to provide rainfall sufficient to maintain safe fuel moisture content but did serve to support new grass and brush growth. Vegetation fuels present across the District are uncharacteristically dry for this point in the season. Moreover, long-range weather forecasts predict average to slightly above average temperatures with little chance of measurable precipitation.
Detailed information on protecting homes and businesses from wildfire dangers, including weed abatement deadlines and preparing now for the possibility of evacuation can be found on the District’s website at www.cccfpd.org.
About Contra Costa County Fire Protection District (Con Fire) — A recognized fire service leader – Con Fire provides fire and emergency medical services to some 625,000 residents in nine cities and five unincorporated areas across our 304 square-mile jurisdiction. With few exceptions, county emergency ambulance transport services are provided by Con Fire through our unique sub-contractor Alliance model across the District and beyond to include some 520 square miles of the County. In 2021, the District responded to more than 141,000 incidents of all types, including some 55,000 fire and EMS emergencies, and dispatched nearly 100,000 ambulances, providing expert medical care on more than 75,000 ambulance transports.The District, with 26 fire stations and more than 400 employees, is dedicated to preserving life, property, and the environment.