RED FLAG WARNING for Alameda County from 10-28-2023 at 05:00 AM until 10-29-2023 at 05:00 PM. Gusty offshore winds & dry conditions.
Oakland Firesafe Council

Why Your Support Matters, by Ken Benson, President of Oakland Firesafe Council

Dear Neighbors,

The Oakland Firesafe Council (OFSC) was formed in 2014 to advocate on behalf of and to motivate the residents who live in the high fire risk zones of Oakland/East Bay to take steps to prepare for and reduce the spread of wildfires.

OFSC is asking for your crucial financial support so that we may continue these wildfire prevention and safety efforts on our community’s behalf.

Among its many accomplishments, OFSC has been instrumental in helping educate residents about wildfire prevention and preparedness, taking on fuels reduction projects, and developing a regional approach to wildfire safety. Additionally we have continued to actively engage elected officials here in Oakland and in Sacramento as well as media and local residents to address issues critical to protecting homes and property located in the wildland/urban interface (WUI). Here is a sampling of some our work, realized and ongoing:

  • Released the first-ever State-wide best practices Defensible Space Study, based on input from 49 fire departments and Firesafe Councils in California. The 2019 report revealed that targeted outreach and strict enforcement improves community compliance with local inspections.
  • Launched Oakland Community Preparedness and Response (OCP&R), a program to help increase the overall community preparedness level and to improve disaster response capabilities for residents of Oakland. Organize neighborhoods throughout the Oakland hills and foothills to become Firewise USA recognized communities.
  • Organized a team effort to increase the Oakland’s vegetation management budget to $2 million for 2019-20, and $1.1 million for 2020-21 to provide additional funding for the increased vegetation on city roads and open space.
  • Successfully persuaded the City to reclassify Vegetation Management Inspectors as a combined commercial/ vegetation management classification to stem to continuing loss of vegetation management inspectors to the higher paying commercial inspector positions.
  • Worked with the Claremont Canyon Conservancy and Assembly member Jim Wood on legislation to create Regional Wildfire Prevention Districts. Currently we continue doing outreach to other firesafe councils throughout the state to build grassroots support for Regional Wildfire Prevention Districts. And we have successfully advocated for the initial formation of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) amongst participating Alameda and Contra Costa County Fire Departments/Districts and City participants.
  • Worked with Councilmembers Sheng Thao and Dan Kalb on a Council Resolution to make Wildfire Prevention a top priority citywide.
  • Continue to monitor the content of the long-awaited 10-year Vegetation Management Plan for Oakland. Our bottom line is that any 10-year plan must include 15-20 real projects for the City’s open spaces so that the plan is more than a paper document.
  • Ongoing email briefings of local reporters on wildfire prevention issues.
  • Made presentations at a number of local homeowner and community neighborhood meetings offering practical tips on wildfire prevention and personal preparedness.

We invite you to support our efforts and strengthen your commitment to wildfire safety and preparedness in Oakland (and beyond) with a donation of any kind, be it one-time or ongoing.

Please consider making a meaningful year-end gift today by visiting our DONATE PAGE and choosing whichever means is most comfortable for you.

Many thanks for your important support and here’s wishing you and your family a safe and healthy holiday season.

Ken Benson, President of Oakland Firesafe Council