Sonoma County Nonprofits Awarded Funds for Fire Preparedness


The California Fire Foundation (CFF) has awarded $680,000 in grants for wildfire safety to more than 50 local fire departments, safety organizations, community aide groups, and agencies. The grants come from the Wildfire Safety and Preparedness Program (also called WSPP) overseen by the California Fire Foundation. The mission of the program is to increase resident awareness concerning wildfires, as well as providing much-needed resources in communities that are under high fire-threat warnings.


2020 the Worst Fire Season on Record

According to the organizations, the region suffered the worst fire season on record in 2020, with 2021 already having numerous serious wildfires. The grants will provide much-The California Fire Foundation (CFF) has awarded $680,000 in grants for wildfire safety to more than 50 local fire departments, safety organizations, community aide groups, and agencies. The grants come from the Wildfire Safety and Preparedness Program (also called WSPP) overseen by the California Fire Foundation. The mission of the program is to increase resident awareness concerning wildfires, as well as providing resources in communities that are under high fire-threat warnings.


The grants will provide essential income for the organizations to continue supporting those who are enduring some of the worst times of their lives. Often, wildfire victims are forced to leave at just a moment’s notice, leaving them looking for housing, suffering financial crises, and navigating the emotional loss of physical property and often much more.


Funding has also gone to 200 fire departments and agencies across the state through the WSPP, equipping communities with a boost of resources and support that is desperately needed in the face of wildfire disasters. Ultimately, the WSPP is focused on spreading their Wildfire Safety Campaign throughout communities lacking education in these areas -- especially promoting early evacuation. Their grants are awarded to organizations and departments that are making fire prevention, community education, preparedness, and recovery assistance a priority.


Where Do the Funds Come From?

Among the supporters of this program is Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E), which donated $1.4 million in funding for local communities. They have collaborated with the CFF for the last four years, providing a total of $4.6 million in support of fire safety awareness. Of course, many may see this as a public relations decision due to PG&E regularly being found culpable for numerous wildfires across Northern California.


Just recently, the company was charged with 4 homicides connected to the Zogg Fire of last September in Shasta County due to criminal negligence. Allegedly, a sickly tree that was identified as dangerous to the powerlines years before was never removed and ultimately fell on the powerlines in 2020, sparking a fire that resulted in the deaths of four people and the destruction of 200+ structures. This comes after last year’s guilty plea of 84 counts of involuntary manslaughter connected to the Camp Fire, which (according to Cal Fire) is considered the most destructive and deadly fire in California’s history.


While PG&E is making major efforts to clean up the vegetation around their power lines and striving towards long term solutions such as burying miles and miles of power lines, they are still facing criticism for their responsibility for many of the region’s worst wildfires in recent years.


Utilizing Resources for Communities in Need

Among those to receive funds were two nonprofits based in Sonoma County -- the Lemon Aide Project and COPE NoSoCo. Both of the nonprofits are geared towards fire resilience and safety, and will be using the $50,000 ($25,000 given to each) to help with community education on fire safety, planning and preparation, and local outreach campaigns to bolster awareness.

With the number of extreme wildfires over the past few years seeming to increase in Northern California especially, many are searching for support, whether it be for those who have lost everything in past fires or those who want to be as prepared as possible for the next fire. Lemon Aide Project has supported individuals who have suffered from various fires, including the Caldor Fire, Dixie Fire, Slater Fire, Sierra NF Fire, and many more.


COPE has a similar mission, dedicated to serving as a California Fire Safe Council to local communities, creating education and training opportunities for emergency preparedness. This includes helping neighborhoods to create their own local COPE programs, including leadership teams, home record information, meeting site and escape route planning, regular meetings for neighborhood awareness, and much more. The overall goal is to empower each community to maintain the “neighbor helping neighbor” mindset in an organized and safe manner during wildfire emergencies.


As wildfires continue to rage across Sonoma County and Northern California, these programs will serve as important resources to local communities. If you are searching for additional fire preparedness steps you can take for your household, consider Firebrand’s GO KITs and review our other fire safety tips on the blog.