MALIBU—On Monday, May 4, the City of Malibu announced that it had re-started its free Home Ignition Zone Assessment Program to assist residents in hardening their homes against flying embers.
Flying embers are a major cause of homes catching fire during wildfires. According to fire behavior experts, more than half of homes lost during wildfires catch fire due to flying embers, rather than direct contact with flames. Common materials that become embers during wildfires are branches, tree bark, palm fronds, and native vegetation. This essentially means that even houses which are blocks away from the actual flames can ignite.
The Program is being put in place to help residents by providing suggestions on hardening their homes. Due to stay-at-home orders as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, a single staff member will carry out the assessment, while using personal protective equipment (PPE) and adhering to physical distancing guidelines.
Fire Safety Liaison and former Ventura County Fire Captain Jerry Vandermeulen will provide the service, by inspecting homes and making recommendations on how to make them more fire resistant, according to the official statement. Vandermeulen is reportedly certified in ‘Assessing Structure Ignition Potential from Wildfire’ through the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA).
As mentioned in the statement, Vandermeulen has conducted over 150 home wildfire assessments in Malibu since the program began in August 2019. He is also available to meet with individuals, business owners, homeowners associations, and property owners/ managers to guide them on home hardening and brush clearance. Additionally, he can describe how to monitor wildfires, maintain situational awareness in advance of a wildfire using Pulsepoint and other tools, and prepare emergency/ evacuation plans and supply kits.
Appointments can be scheduled at www.malibucity.org/FireSafety, or by emailing Vandermeulen himself at firstname.lastname@example.org. He can also be called at 310-456-2489, ext. 387.
The Los Angeles County Fire Department has developed the Ready, Set, Go action plan for additional wildfire preparedness. It can be found at https://fire.lacounty.gov/ready-set-go.pdf.
“Wildfires don’t care about stay-at-home orders, and our next fire is always around the corner, so we need to continue to do everything possible to enhance wildfire preparedness Malibu,” said Mayor Karen Farrer. “I am proud that the City is able to offer this incredibly valuable service for our community members even under these incredibly difficult circumstances.”