Monday, October 09, 2006

Column preview

Here is what I have submitted for next week's Ross Valley Reporter:

Flood Zone 9 and Fairfax: Years ago, the Towns of Fairfax and San Anselmo opted out of joining Flood Zone 9, which is a separate governmental entity with authority to collect funds and implement flood control measures in the Ross Valley. With the new effort of Supervisor Hal Brown’s Ross Valley Flood Protection and Watershed Program taking a cooperative regional approach to flood control, we need to consider whether to join Flood Zone 9. Current methodologies to control flooding do not involved concrete channels, which was one of the objections the Town had to joining Flood Zone 9 years ago. Modern watershed conservation efforts include restoring creek capacity and habitat by using environmentally-friendly methods which do not involve channelization or environmental alteration. In order for the Town of Fairfax to fully take advantage of the regional efforts heralded by the Ross Valley Flood Protection and Watershed Program, Fairfax will need to be included in Flood Zone 9 in order to gain the financial benefits of this governmental entity. Flood Zone 9 is able to raise funds not only through taxation - which is subject to a vote of the people - but also by leveraging the Ross Valley’s collective need when applying for federal and state flood mitigation grant funding. At our October 4th Council meeting, we heard a presentation from the County Flood Zone 9 Engineer regarding the progress made to date on understanding the causes of flooding and the need to make changes to our watershed and water conveyance system to reduce our future flooding risk. Your Town Council has scheduled a special meeting for November 15th at 7:30 p.m. in the Women’s Club to consider joining Flood Zone 9 through the adoption of a resolution of consent. Your participation in this meeting is encouraged and welcomed.

Siren Warning System approved: At our October 4th Council meeting, the Council agreed to enter into a contract for the purchase and installation of a siren warning system. After the December 31, 2005 flood disaster, many residents expressed their concern that the former Town siren at the fire station needed to be replaced to provide an audible warning system that can warn residents of flood, fire or other disaster. Our initial approach to this project will be to have a siren installed first at the Pavilion, and after testing, install two additional sirens - one in the Cascades and another at the west end of Sir Francis Drake, near Olema. We will have the first siren operational in three to four months.

It is very important for residents to understand that a siren system is only one component of an emergency warning system. When a disaster strikes, residents need to be ready to tune into their radios and televisions for announcements, listen for a phone call from the Telephone Emergency Notification System (TENS), and, depending on the nature of the disaster, assemble with their neighbors to check on neighbors’ well-being. In future columns, I will be providing more information on the siren and its testing and implementation.

Grant for Fire Sprinklers in Fire Stations: The Ross Valley Fire Department was fortunate to receive an $186,000 grant from the Department of Homeland Security Assistance to Firefighters Grant Program. This grant was received to fund the installations of automatic fire sprinklers and fire alarm systems at the Department’s three fire stations. The grant, which only requires a 10% match, has allowed us to replace the Department’s outdated, nonfunctional fire alarm systems. In the case of the Butterfield Road station, there was no alarm system. The new alarm systems include the required smoke, heat, and rate of rise detectors; horn/strobe indicators; and manual pull stations. Additionally, the alarm systems will be monitored by an UL Approved Central Station. The installation of the alarm systems are now complete at all three stations. The installation of the fire sprinklers at all three station is well on its way, with anticipated completion by mid-November.

While firefighters may be more vigilant than the average citizen when it comes to fire safety, on average 150 fire stations burn each year in the United States. The installation of the fire alarm and fire sprinklers systems at Ross Valley Fire Department’s fire stations will significantly reduce the risk of a devastating fire.