Rooted in Near Disaster: Formation of the Deer Springs Fire Safe Council
A group of 14 residents of the Deer Springs Fire
Protection District met several times during the period November, 2003 through January, 2004 for the purpose of analyzing events that
occurred during the Valley Center Paradise Fire the previous October. As the Paradise fire entered Daley Ranch on a westward track,
residents in the eastern portion of Hidden Meadows and the North Broadway area were told to be ready to evacuate. A benevolent wind
shift kept our communities from harm, but it was too close for comfort.
The two most pressing concerns expressed by this Emergency
Task Force, as well as many from the community, were the limited number of escape routes and the lack of communication from public
safety officials. Our only limited sources of information were the San Diego television and radio stations but they were focused on
the larger Cedar Fire. The lack of communication was not the fault of Deer Springs Fire or the Sheriff’s Department because they really
didn’t know whom to call.
To address these and other concerns, the Task Force developed a list of goals that would best be fulfilled
by a Fire Safe Council. This Council would work alongside the Deer Springs Fire Protection District within District boundaries. Further,
the Council would become part of county, state, and federal Fire Safe Councils and take advantage of their expertise and funding sources.
These goals included education, prevention, communication, and emergency response.
The Deer Springs Fire Safe Council was officially
incorporated as a 501(c)(3) (non-profit) Corporation on June 17, 2004 with an organizational Board of directors consisting of five
residents of the fire prevention District. The Council has expanded the elected Board to include nine members to help ensure representation
of the different communities within the district.
We have come a long way since formation of the Council but have an even longer way
to go in helping to make the District as fire safe as it can be. Analyses of the fire dangers have been made and the warnings repeated,
often to numb ears. Perhaps Captain Dan Young of the Orange County (California) Fire Department sums up the reality in six short sentences:
"It’s time to wake up and smell the chaparral, because sooner or later, these areas are going to burn. This is not potential. This
is genuine. It’s real. It is going to happen again. The question is, when the smoke clears, will your house be standing?”