Diablo fire council offers defensible space grants


It's hard to see how a swim club could be a fire danger, but with all the trees and brush around it, Walnut Creek's Sunny Hills Aquatic Club is just that this time of year.

"We have a large tree over story here as well as ladder fuels in the spring, so there are a lot of things that need tending to," says Guy Gettle from the Sunny Hills Aquatic Club.

It's an expensive job and given that Sunny Hills only has 30 members, raising the money to pay for the creation of defensible space is a huge challenge.

But now, thanks to a $5,000 supplemental grant from the Diablo Fire Safe Council, Sunny Hills can afford to do the work. The aquatic club is one of six fire safety projects recently approved for funding from the non-profit.

"A neighborhood group will be doing fuel removal, but they have no way to dispose of it, so they'll use our dollars for chipping. Several of the projects will actually go in and do more fuel removal," says Cheryl Miller from the Diablo Fire Safe Council.

Even with the grant money, making the property at Sunny Hills fire safe is no easy task. For one thing, there are at least six varieties of trees here.

"Just because you want to limb a tree or take out a tree, doesn't mean you can do it, there's a permit process," says Gettle.

Gary Van Ness lives just uphill from Sunny Hills. He's relieved the swim club is going to clean up its property.

"The fire danger is a real issue, it has to be dealt with you know. If they can get a grant to clear some of the dead growth off the trees and stuff, I'm for it," says Van Ness.

The Diablo Fire Safe Council still has another $70,000 to dole out, just in time for the height of fire season.

For more information and an application for a fire safety grant in Contra Costa County:

Diablo Fire Safe Council
P.O. Box 18616
Oakland, CA 94619

Cheryl Miller-Executive Director
(510) 536-0143

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