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|Marin County, CA||November 8, 2005 Election|
Preparing for & Preventing Fire/Other Emergencies
By Ken WachtelCandidate for Member, City Council; City of Mill Valley
This information is provided by the candidate
The best way to stop a fire is to prevent it from occurring. Read Ken's specific proposals to help Mill Valley prepare for and prevent fire and other emergencies!Mill Valley is a tinderbox. I recently spent half a day with Battalion Chief Greg Moore viewing Mill Valley from the fire roads surrounding our town. The story is dramatic and the education I received was unforgettable. The best way to stop a fire is to prevent it from occurring in the first place.
The fire department is confident that it can fight a small, localized fire downtown or in the hills. They are most concerned about a fire racing down from Mt. Tamalpais into the city. Through the city's vegetation management program, the fire department continues to build fire fuel breaks and shaded fuel breaks. The city's vegetation management program is an essential tool for fire safety and I enthusiastically support this program. Battalion Chief Moore believes we need additional fire breaks, and I will propose reallocating city funds to ensure his recommendations are funded.
Mill Valley has three box canyons (Cascade, Blithedale, and Warner). In a recent May 5, 2005, emergency test drill it was shown that people trying to leave these canyons by car will be caught in traffic. Those exiting by footpaths and trails have a greater chance of survival. The City Council needs to communicate the nature and location of these paths, and make sure they are serviceable and adequately identified.
The City Council should recommend that each household store at least three days' provisions per person in preparation for a major disaster. As we learned in the Hurricane Katrina disaster, it can take a long time for help to arrive. In the case of a major disaster in Mill Valley, many of our professional emergency personnel (fire fighters and police) may not arrive because they will be called into service where they live. This is another reason I support increasing the amount affordable housing in Mill Valley.
I support including fire safety issues in the municipal service tax, which is up for renewal in 2008. The fire department vegetation management program currently has an annual budget of $125,000. An increase could be used to enhance vegetation management, education/communication, a chipper program for yard clippings, and other services, which will help mitigate our city's fire risk.
I would consider amending our municipal ordinances to encourage best practices for fire safety. For example, Battalion Chief Moore agrees that wood shingles as building siding are a fire hazard and should be limited. As a City Council member, I will recommend that the city consider an enforcement mechanism for the clearing dangerously flammable vegetation.
Recently, I sought out Hugh Kuhn, Chair of Mill Valley's Emergency Preparedness Committee. In speaking with him, I learned that the keys to successfully enduring an emergency are preparation and clear responsibility. The city's role is to communicate these facts and facilitate community preparation, and I support increasing the city's efforts to do so.
Mill Valley is blessed with the highest percentage of Community Emergency Response Team-trained volunteers in Marin County. These volunteers, as well as city employees, are trained in First Aid, Search and Rescue, and Traffic Control. We need to expand this training. As a City Council member, I will advocate the creation of neighborhood emergency preparedness groups.
The beauty of Mill Valley is also its Achilles' heel when it comes to fire danger. The responsibility for preparation and prevention is ours as citizens, and good leadership by the City Council can go a long way toward saving our lives and our property.
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