Physical Red Flags
Fire departments in Sonoma County will fly red flags marked “High Fire Danger” when the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Weather Service issues red flag warnings. This new initiative is part of the Ready, Set, Go Program promoted by the Sonoma County Fire Chiefs Association and Fire Safe Sonoma, and funded by the Pacific Gas and Electric Company.
A “red flag warning” means that critical fire weather conditions will occur due to strong winds, low relative humidity, and warm temperatures. Red flag warnings are typically issued when frequent wind gusts reach over 25 miles per hour and/or relative humidity is at or below 15 percent.
The physical red flags that fire departments will display will help inform firefighters and local residents that conditions are ideal for wildland fire combustion and rapid spread.
"This new system will make it easier for us as fire departments to ensure that communities are aware and alert in the event of a fire like we experienced in October of 2017," Fire Chief Jason Boaz of Healdsburg Fire Department said, "it will help spread the word and potentially save lives."
Steps to Be Prepared
If you see a red flag flying at a nearby fire station, take these steps to be prepared for a fast-moving or unexpected fire.
- Clear away dead vegetation within at least 10 feet of your home and out of gutters. Remove flammable materials (e.g. firewood stacks, propane tanks) within 30 feet around your home.
- Ensure that you are signed up for emergency alerts. Examples:
- Have an emergency bag ready with food, water, important documents and other essentials designed to last 72 hours. Do not engage in any outdoor burning, including in fire pits.
- Ensure your home smoke alarms are working.
- Create an escape plan from your home and find two evacuation routes out of your neighborhood with a designated meeting place.
For more information about the Ready, Set, Go Program or the Red Flag Warning System, contact Fire Safe Sonoma at www.firesafesonoma.org, or your local fire department.