Op-Ed | Help Piedmont Fire deliver preparedness programs designed for you

Do you know what you’d do if a wildfire or earthquake happened in Piedmont? Do you have plans in place for your kids and pets? In an evacuation, do you know how long would it take you to gather essentials and get out? And most important – if your answer to any of the above is no, why? Not sure how to get started? Don’t have time? Just feel overwhelmed by it all?

I know these questions aren’t fun for most people to think about. But as your Fire Chief, I’m asking you to take 10 minutes to share your honest answers HERE.

We’ve received just over 60 responses so far, and Piedmont Fire need to hear from a broader cross-section of residents in order to confidently design and deliver effective programs that will ensure our community is prepared for whatever comes.

A few trends caught my eye in the early responses.
First, respondents report feeling more prepared overall than I’d expect based on both the existing body of research about preparedness and my personal experience from many years working in this field. With such a small sample size, it’s difficult to assess whether Piedmont already takes preparedness to a level far above what is typical in neighboring communities or if we’re looking at a self-selecting group who loves to be prepared and loves to fill out surveys about it.

Second, we aren’t getting much feedback from families with school-age children. The City and PUSD work closely together on response plans such as reunification, and it’s very important for us know how well kids and parenting adults have learned and understand those plans. Extending out to neighbors or other family members who may need extra support in a disaster is also important for us to learn more about.

Finally, I am alarmed by the low level of concern we’re seeing over the potential for wildfire in Piedmont.

As a designated Wildland Urban Interface, Piedmont faces the very real possibility of a wildfire burning through town. The 1991 Tunnel Fire claimed over 3,000 homes in Oakland and Berkeley and only stopped at Piedmont’s doorstep because of a wind change. Since then, we’ve seen numerous fires in Northern California overrun communities much further out of historically designated wildland fire areas than Piedmont is.

Creating educational and practical wildfire response and evacuation programs for the public is a high priority for the Fire Department, so better understanding more Piedmonters’ perspectives on wildfire risk is an important component of this survey.

Please help us help you. Complete the survey today, then send it to five friends and neighbors to take as well.

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