The members of Team Rubicon enjoy some laughs after their first day volunteering by assisting the community with fire mitigation.     
Photo by Jenny Kirchner

The nonprofit group Team Rubicon and the Mountain Communities Fire Safe Council (MCFSC) teamed up to help Idyllwild stay a bit safer this fire season. 

Team Rubicon is a disaster response group made up of veterans whose purpose is to help those in need. The organization assists veterans in their transition back into civilian life and keeps camaraderie up, involving them in something bigger than themselves.

“Team Rubicon wanted to help our mountain communities by providing no-cost fire abatement for low-income and elderly property owners (primary residences) and nonprofit properties,” Executive Director of MCFSC Kat Sacher-Wilson said. “MCFSC and our volunteer group the Woodies identify the properties and devise a defensible space plan. Team Rubicon does the groundwork based on the defensible space plan.”

According to MCFSC, Team Rubicon is working on 19 properties as well as some work on Idyllwild Pines where they’re staying June 20 through June 28.

The American Legion Post 800 wanted to extend its thanks by providing Team Rubicon with dinner on Saturday evening after their first workday and the first evening of their stay in Idyllwild.  

Team Rubicon Local Director Kevin Kothlow said, “We have about 35 people participating this week. We are doing fire mitigation and we are also developing our skills set also. So, we have a lot of volunteers up here with different levels of sawyer. Our master sawyer is teaching them more precarious cuts. Our main goal here though is fire mitigation.”

While many of the volunteers are from Southern California, one cutter is here from Arizona and another one is from Visalia, California.

Nationally, Team Rubicon responds to hurricanes, earthquakes, tornadoes and other disasters. 

“The goal is to help people on their worst day,” Kothlow said. “It’s pretty awesome to hang out with like-minded people that are community spirited.”

In Southern California, there are a total of about 8,000 volunteers and about 1,200 are actively volunteering.

“There’s always been this huge gap of when disasters happen and people need help, and when the government gets involved,” Kothlow said. “We are there to help bridge the gap when people need help until the government can take over.”

Team Rubicon was founded by eight of its members in 2010 during the Haiti earthquake. All were doctors, either civilian or in various military branches. 

“They happened to jump on a plane, formed a group and created a hospital there,” Kothlow said. “They came back to the states realizing the gap that needed to be filled during disasters.”

     This won’t be the last time Team Rubicon comes to Idyllwild. They plan to return in September. 

    “They will be back on the Hill in September to complete some fuels reduction on Camp Emerson,” Wilson said. “MCFSC identified this need but is not a partner in this project.”