Fire protection plan ready for public to comment


News staff writer

June 14, 2006

Hood River County fire chiefs will answer questions tonight about a wildfire protection plan that focuses on community preparedness.

Plan coordinator Peter Mackwell invites all county residents to come Wednesday at 7 p.m. to the Rockford Fire Hall on Barrett Drive. He wants to know what the community thinks about the draft 2006 Community Wildfire Protection Plan for the county. Mackwell has led a team whose efforts during recent months have collected data on wildfire risk factors and more.

“It (the plan) identifies areas that need attention in Hood River County,” Mackwell said.

He emphasized the process is still in the information-gathering stage including looking at areas of highest risk and how populations would be displaced.

The team set a number of goals for the plan including rating areas of the county according to their potential fire risk. Mackwell zeroed in on several collaborations including between county fire chiefs and the U.S. Forest Service. That is because 85 percent of Hood River County lies outside of lands protected by a Rural Fire Protection district.

Part of the risk involved with wildfire is protecting life while another is protecting structures. Mackwell wants the public to realize the challenges firefighters can face when arriving on the scene during the crisis of a wildfire.

“The numbering system currently on the books requires homeowners have numbers on their house but not at the end of the driveway,” he said. “Or we’ll have a residence whose address is one street name but the people use a different road to get there. If we (firefighters) can’t get there, we can’t help you.”

Within the plan, each of the county’s fire chiefs evaluated what they felt were areas with the highest wildfire risk. Following Wednesday’s hearing, copies of the draft plan will be available at the public library as well as online through the county’s public works Web site.

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Parkdale third graders sing "12 Disaster Days of Christmas"

Welcome to your sing-able Christmas gift list. What follows is an emergency rendition of “12 Days of Christmas” – for outfitting your home or car in case of snow storm, earthquake, flood or other emergency. Read it as a simple list, or sing it to the tune of “12 Days” – you know, as in “ … and a partridge in a pear tree…” Not to make light of it, but the song is a familiar framework for a set of gift ideas that you could consider gathering together, even if the recipient already owns items such as a bunch of coats, tire chains and flashlights. Stores throughout the Gorge are stocked up on all these items. Buying all 12 days might be prohibitive, but here are three ideas for checking any of the dozen off your list (notations follow, 1-12.) The gift items needed to stay warm, dry and safe are also coded to suggest items in your abode (A) in your car (C) or both (B). 12 Gallons of Water (A) 11 Family meals (B) 10 Cans of propane (A) 9 Hygiene bags (B) 8 Packs of batteries (A) 7 Spare coats (B) 6 Bright red flares (C) 5 Cozy blankets (B) 4 Tire chains (C) 3 Flashlights (B) 2 cell phone chargers (B) 1 And a crush-proof first aid kit (B) Price ranges? Here’s a few quotes for days Three, Two, Four and Nine: n A family gift of flashlights (three will run $15-30, Hood River Supply, Tum-A-Lum) n Cell phone chargers (two will run $30-60) n Tire chains (basic set, $30, Les Schwab, returnable if unused for the winter) n Family meals ($100 or so should cover the basics for three or four reasonably well-fed days) n The home kit should be kept in a handy place near an exit, and remember that water needs to be replenished every few months. If you have a solid first aid kit already, switch out the gift idea with “and-a-sto-o-u-t- tub-for it-all …” Otherwise, it’s a case of assembling your home or car kits and making sure all members of the family know what the resources are and how to use them (ie flares and propane). Emergency situations are at worst life-threatening, at best deeply uncomfortable if you and your family are left without power for an extended period, or traveling and find yourself in a situation where you need to wait out a storm, lengthy traffic delay, or other crisis. Notes on the 12 gift ideas: 12 – Gallons of water: that’s one per person in a four-member family to last for three days, the recommended minimum to be prepared for utility outages. 11 – Easy-open packaged goods, energy bars, dried food and nuts are good things to include for nutrition. Think of what your family of four needs for three days to stay fortified and hydrated (see number 12). Can-opener also recommended 10 – If you have a propane camping stove, keep extra fuel handy. 9 – Hygiene bags: put packaged moistened towelettes, toilet paper, and plastic ties in large garbage bags (for personal sanitation) Resource list courtesy of Hood River County Emergency Management, Barbara Ayers, manager/ 541-386-1213. The county also reminds residents to Get a Kit, Make A Plan to connect your family if separated, and Stay Informed. See to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge

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