Wildfire proposal: roving volunteer fire crews

Posted at 6:53 PM, Nov 12, 2018
and last updated 2018-11-12 21:55:27-05

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) - A Scripps Ranch homeowner who's very familiar with wildfires is now proposing a low-tech plan aimed at saving homes and lives.
The images from the Woolsey and Camp wildfires is tough for Richard Rider to watch. "We looked out on that hill.  It was literally a wall of flame.  We were stunned," said Rider.

In 2003, the flames of the devastating Cedar Fire swept into Scripps Ranch, forcing Rider to evacuate. It would destroy more than 300 homes in the area. 

"Most homes that burned in Scripps Ranch actually burned down because there was no one here to put out the ember fires," said Rider.

Rider, a well-known taxpayer advocate, is now advocating for fire protection. "We need a voluntary supplementary fire brigade," said Rider.

Rider says a volunteer fire brigade, similar to police reserves, wouldn't be attached to a fire station.

Instead they would  ssemble and be deployed when needed to put out ember fires. According to Rider, the tools of such a brigade could include shovels, garden hoses and even wet blankets. Rider says that extra manpower wouldn't be on the front lines.

"We need a supplemental force that handles houses one block, two blocks, a mile from where the fire is actually occurring. Embers can come down from those fires," said Rider.

Rider points to the Cedar Fire as an example. One of his friends stayed behind and put out ember fires.

"He went up and down the neighborhood and saved about seven homes," said RIder. Rider says imagine the good a large group of volunteers could do with a bit of training.

"In Scripps Ranch we lost 330 homes. I figure we could have saved 250 with a volunteer reserve fire brigade," said Rider.

One fire expert told 10news safety could be a concern with the volunteer crew. Rider says fire officials could lead the group and deploy them safely. Rider plans to submit the idea in writing to the County Board of Supervisors.