West Contra Costa’s first Fire Safe Council established

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Richmond firefighters teaming with Red Cross to install free smoke alarm systems
Photo credit: Mike Kinney

A Fire Safe Council has been established by members of the community that aims to help plan and manage community wildfire preparedness in high risk areas of West Contra Costa County.

Led by Soheila Bana, founder of the 94803 Emergency Preparedness Alliance (94803.org), which has promoted wildfire safety since 2020, the West Contra Costa Fire Safe Council (WCCFSC) is a nonprofit that plans to pursue state and federal grants to bolster local preparedness. 

Bana serves as the Council’s president, Marilyn Saarni as vice president, Ra Cristiciello as secretary, Rebecca Orona as treasurer and Richmond Fire Chief Angel Montoya as the Agency Representative to liaison with other agencies.

The Council consists of a 20-person Board made up of residents of Richmond and unincorporated El Sobrante who live in Wildland Urban Interface (WUI) areas. Advisory Board members include representatives from local fire departments, East Bay Regional Parks District, East Bay Municipal Utilities District, PG&E, CalFire, California Fire Council, Diablo Fire Safe Council and Oakland Fire Safe Council. 

Many members of the 94803 Alliance have carried over to help lead the WCCFSC, according to Bana.

“Initially, Richmond Mayor Tom Butt encouraged the 94803 Alliance to work with local agencies and other major landowners on vegetation management,” Bana said in a statement. “The 94803 Alliance reached out to Richmond Fire Chief Montoya who initiated the Fire Safe Council concept, with the assistance of the California Fire Safe Council, and was instrumental in assisting the 94803 Alliance with establishing a Fire Safe Council. After a year of coordinated efforts, the WCCFSC was established for community wildfire risk reduction and resiliency.”

To learn more, residents are encouraged to contact Bana at [email protected] or (510) 779-7280.