River Pines, CA Change


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Ted Novelli
08/07/2014 1:42 PM

The Sand Fire has given us an all-too-vivid reminder that the Gold Country is in danger from catastrophic wildfire. In fact, Upcountry Amador County has been designated by CAL FIRE as a “Very High Fire Hazard Severity Zone.”

Most who have lived here for any good stretch of time have seen how fires have damaged rural communities throughout California. Any wildfire in our area could not only destroy private property, including homes, forest and farms, but it could severely damage our tourism and natural resource-based economy at a time when we desperately need more jobs for local families.

While the Sand Fire was devouring 4,000- plus acres of foothills and timberlands, numerous local residents called my office asking what Amador was doing to combat the fire and many wondered how prepared we are for the next big event.

Now that the Sand Fire is out, I would like to take this opportunity to inform the Amador community — and especially those living Upcountry — about the steps that Amador County has been taking in recent years to prepare to fight back against a large wildfire so we can keep our community.

Local fire leaders and safety-conscious elected officials have been working together to make us as safe as possible, given the extremely dangerous forest conditions we now face.

Many actions have been taken in recent years to fortify our fire defenses:

• Full-Time Firefighters. Amador County shifted from a system of volunteers to full-time paid firefighters. We now have 23 paid firefighters and 50 volunteers who are responsible for protecting Amador’s vulnerable Upcountry areas.

• Better Equipment. We have purchased a new fire engine specifically designed for rugged mountain driving. We have also purchased two fire tenders.

• Fire Stations. We have expanded existing fire stations to accommodate our firefighters’ needs.

• Better Training. Because many of our firefighters are full-time, they and the volunteers are dedicated to the training needed in and around the very Upcountry communities that they will likely need to protect.

• Stronger Water System. Amador County provided financial support to Amador Water Agency efforts to install a new gravity fed water system in the Upcountry that will deliver a more powerful and reliable source of water to firefighters. Importantly, this Gravity Supply Line will also make water more affordable to Upcountry residents.

Amador County continues to look for other ways to improve and strengthen its fire protection. Currently, we have applied for a federal grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to help fix aged and small Upcountry fire hydrants.

Local voters deserve credit for approving Measure M several years ago to provide more local funding specifically for firefighting. Without this funding, many of the improvements would not be possible.

All the equipment and training in the world would be useless without the bravery and heroism of our local firefighters—both paid and volunteer. I also offer my heartfelt gratitude for the hundreds of neighbors and volunteer organizations like the Red Cross who pulled together to help local residents.

I also want to thank everybody for all of their hard work, state, local, and federal, all the fire entities and all the volunteers in all the departments that helped in this fire emergency.

The Sand Fire is over, but our fire season is not. This has been a very dry year, and all it takes is one tiny spark to put our entire county or this region of the state at risk.

That is why our work to improve fire safety must always continue. We must continue to work together to support not only our firefighters but our neighbors. If you would like more information about what Amador County is doing to prepare for wildfires, please feel free to call me, at 223-6493, or 223-6470.

Ted Novelli is a longstanding Upcountry resident who serves as Amador County’s 3rd District Supervisor. He is a veteran, former law enforcement officer and former small business owner.

Copyright © 2016 Amador Ledger Dispatch
Tom Selman
08/22/2014 11:14 AM
Impressive resume Ted, but don't forget to add SEIU executive board member & union organizer in the Bay Area to your list of accomplishments!
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