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Firefighters go door-to-door armed with fire safety information

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SAN DIEGO - San Diego Fire-Rescue firefighters, cadets and volunteers banded together in an effort to educate people about the importance of being ready if a fire sparks.

"We used to call this period of time in September, October, November ‘wild fire season.’ We no longer do that, wild fire season in California is now year round,” Chief Javier Mainar said.

Armed with information he and others went door to door, handing out informational packets filled with brochures and contact information for nearby fire departments. Volunteers took pride in their responsibilities.

“I mean, I live in this community and try to help out the best I can. You never know when a disaster is going to strike,” CERT volunteer Ralph Buna said. Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) volunteers are trained citizens who support first responders during disasters.

Other volunteers echoed his enthusiasm. “Keeping people safe, making sure that they’re aware of fire dangers is critical to keeping people safe this fire season,” Tiffany Vinson said.

She passed out dozens of informational packets, taking time to explain the contents to each person who answered the door. If someone wasn’t home, no problem; volunteers and fire fighters left the informational packets at the resident’s door.

Chief Mainar made it clear their dedication to serving their fellow community members did not go unnoticed. “Frankly, without their assistance we couldn’t get this done to the degree that we would like to,” he said.

The goal was to reach 6,000 different homes in one day. They stuffed thousands of bags with brochures and plotted specific routes on maps. They say taking that extra step to go door-to-door has proven to be successful.

Scripps Ranch resident Hilary Bowers said she’s already taking steps to prepare for a possible fire. “We have a box with all of our important papers and vaccine records for the kids and birth certificates, things like that,” Bowers said.

Chief Mainar said he hopes others follow her lead, especially those who live in homes near high acreage wild land and near canyons.

“The more they do in advance of a fire, even on an inner city canyon, the better we can be prepared; the more safely our firefighters can operate and the better job we can do for everyone,” he said.

San Diego Fire-Rescue recommends the following steps to prepare your home and family for a fire:

Sweep gutters, roofs, and eaves regularly. Remove dead branches around chimneys.

If fire is approaching, remove combustible materials, including wood piles, lawn furniture, doormats, barbecue grills, and tarps, from around your home.

Locate your evacuation checklist and assemble the items in it. Place these items in your vehicle.

Evacuate before the fire approaches your home. Back your car into the driveway and roll up the windows to allow for a quicker getaway. Plan to bring your valuables and your pets.

Close and protect your home's openings, including attic doors and vents, windows, doors, and pet doors. Remove flammable drapes and curtains and close all shutters, blinds, or heavy non-combustible drapes. Do not lock the doors and windows in case firefighters have to make a quick entry to fight the flames.

Close all the interior doors in your home and the fireplace screen. Open the fireplace damper.

Shut off any natural gas, propane, or fuel oil supplies at the source.

Connect garden hoses and fill any pools, hot tubs, garbage cans, tubs, or other large containers with water.

Disconnect garage door openers so the doors will open if there is no power.

Place a ladder against the house in clear view.

Turn on the outside lights and at least one light in each room to make your house more visible in heavy smoke.