In the heart of Kensington, San Diego, a historical neighborhood surrounded by canyons and sprawling native vegetation, community members of an all-volunteer organization sprung into action at the annual Dumpathon, a brush removal event which occurred Sept. 28 through Oct. 9.
Enter Fire Safe Council (FSC) Kensington, a group of dedicated individuals who have made it their mission to safeguard Kensington from fire risk by educating their community, hosting brush removal events and implementing fire-wise strategies for their beloved community. Established in 2013, FSC Kensington was founded by Bev Barrett, a lifelong advocate for fire safety and Kensington resident since 1998. Inspired to never let history repeat itself, Barrett started the council in memory of her grandfather whose home was destroyed in the 1970 Laguna fire.
“When my grandpa lost his beloved cabin, it changed him forever and I’ve carried that with me,” said Barrett. “Reducing the risk of wildfires in the surrounding canyons takes a community-wide effort and as neighbors, we’re proud to do our part to protect one another.”
As the region adapts to an increasingly changing climate and weather-related emergencies, fire risk mitigation efforts are no longer limited to the backcountry of San Diego. FSC Kensington understands this growing concern and emphasizes the importance of collaboration and shared community action from coastal, central and mountain communities.
“Thanks to the support of organizations like SDG&E, we’re able to fund this annual event, which collects nearly 15 tons of vegetation fire fuel,” said Amy Dyson, Co-Chairman of Fire Safe Council Kensington. She added risks posed by fires are not unique to the backcountry of San Diego or Kensington’s canyons. “It’s our hope that other communities will develop their own fire safe councils to tackle specific fire risks they may experience in their neighborhoods.”
Fire safe councils play a crucial role in improving communities by promoting fire safety awareness and taking proactive measures to prevent and mitigate the risks of wildfires. They accomplish this through:
- Education and Awareness
- Community Engagement
- Fuel Reduction Programs
- Emergency Preparedness
- Grant and Funding Assistance
As a grassroots, community-led organization, councils rely on volunteers and funding opportunities from local businesses and government agencies to accomplish their mission. We proudly support FSCs annually, providing nearly $80,000 in grant funding in 2023, which was distributed by the San Diego Regional Fire Foundation.
“We are seeing how these grants make an impact and empower passionate community volunteers to keep communities safer and better prepared for wildfires,” said Kazeem Omidiji, Director of Community Relations. “We recognize wildfire prevention is a community-wide effort, which is why we’re so proud to support fire safe councils and the important work they do.”
Together, the FSC and community are forging a path illuminated by resilience, knowledge and a shared commitment to safeguard their beloved neighborhood and inspiring San Diegans to do the same.
About the San Diego Regional Fire Foundation
For over 30 years the Fire Foundation has been the only fire foundation supporting all of San Diego County with the goal of “Making San Diego the Safest County in the Nation”. We accomplish this by providing fire and medical equipment to all fire agencies in the County with over 250 fire stations, and on a county-wide basis communication and dispatch technology and equipment to help improve response times and field communications.
Additionally, the Fire Foundation works to prevent fires and makes community members better prepared in case of fires by supporting all Fire Safe Councils in San Diego County with brush clearance, community education, and evacuation preparation. Lastly, we help prepare our youth for a career in public safety by supporting high school EMT (Emergency Medical Technician) and firefighting training; and with scholarships to new firefighters to attend Fire Academies and Paramedic School. Visit sdfirefoundation.org.
About the Fire Safe Council of San Diego County
The Fire Safe Council of San Diego County (FSCSDC) is administered by the Resource Conservation District of Greater San Diego County and governed by a Board of Directors that includes representatives from local, state, federal, and tribal fire agency partners. The FSCSDC provides programs and services to further fire prevention, education, and safety throughout the county and encourage community involvement.
The Fire Safe Council of San Diego County is a countywide facilitator of communication, cooperation and collaboration. San Diego County is a very large and diverse service area, so the FSCSDC encourages and empowers community volunteers to establish community Fire Safe Councils. There are currently 39 of these groups in neighborhoods throughout the county. (Link to interactive FSC map) These grassroots community Fire Safe Councils know their communities best and they are able to identify innovative solutions to meet the needs of their neighborhoods. Through partnership with local fire agencies, the staff of the Resource Conservation District of Greater San Diego County, and our regional network, we are able to work together to identify needs, provide funding opportunities, and get solutions on the ground more efficiently when we work together. Visit firesafesdcounty.org and rcdsandiego.org