By Woody Henderson, MCFSC board member
A quick note from the Mountain Communities Fire Safe Council (MCFSC): Though it is late in the season, we are still getting a lot of questions regarding fire abatement around residences and vacant property. People call us because we can often help with the removal of brush and dead trees that will act as additional fuel surrounding a home during a wildland fire incident.
I talked to our project manager Pete Coy, and the process works like this: Residents can call us at 951-659-6208. Coy, or another staff member, will ask the resident to describe what needs to be done. If the resident received a notice from a fire agency, Coy or another staff member will ask that the notice be read. In most cases, a phone call is followed up by a visit from a field supervisor. It is best if the resident is home so the property boundaries and other characteristics of the property are accurately identified.
If MCFSC can help you, a job proposal will be written up and “before” photos will be taken. There are three contractors on the mountain that are properly licensed to do MCFSC abatement projects. MCFSC submits an Exhibit A that describes each project to each of the contractors. The contractors will visit the property to see the proposed job and then return a bid for each of the projects.
MCFSC selects the lowest bid for each job and the the property owner is called back with the cost of the project. MCFSC pays 65% of the cost through various grants it works to receive. If approved, the owner cuts a check for the remaining 35% of the project’s cost. Sometimes, there are additional grant funds available to help low-income residents with the 35% cost-share. However, these funds are very limited.
The winning contractor schedules the job with the resident and then comes out to complete the work. When the work is completed, a field supervisor comes back out to inspect the work and take “after” photos.
The normal time frame from the initial call to project completion is approximately three to four weeks. During busier months, the process can take anywhere from six to eight weeks to complete, so it is best to plan your abatement in advance. Consider calling early in the spring.
MCFSC also works closely with The Woodies. The Woodies are a group that help those in need complete smaller abatement projects. The group is comprised solely of volunteers, some with their own gear. Other needed gear and tools are provided by agencies like MCFSC. Firewood produced by The Woodies is given to the Idyllwild HELP Center, who distributes it to seniors and families in need. And you know, they’ve got a cool name.
For more information on MCFSC, visit MCFSC.org.