The Ben Lomond Fire Protection District (BLFPD) has been awarded a Fire Prevention and Safety (FPS) FEMA disaster grant for $269,806 by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
The BLFPD, together with the other three San Lorenzo Valley fire districts (Boulder Creek, Felton and Zayante) sought these funds to purchase a new, contemporary Fire Safety Education Trailer and specialized training fire extinguishers to be used at the elementary schools in San Lorenzo Valley, as well as other community events.
This award will enable the fire districts to replace the existing educational trailer, which at 35 years old is significantly outdated and requires constant repairs.
For the past 24 years, the Fire Safety Education Trailer and the accompanying K-5 curriculum have provided essential fire safety and prevention education for the students and families of the San Lorenzo Valley. Since 1999, the volunteer firefighters of the four fire districts—Ben Lomond, Zayante, Boulder Creek and Felton—have conducted hands-on classroom and trailer instruction at SLV preschools and elementary schools, reaching more than 1,100 students and their families annually.
The K-5 curriculum, developed by FEMA and adapted to meet the unique needs of SLV youth and families, is designed so students build on prior knowledge as new material is incorporated each year.
The CZU fire in 2020 profoundly changed the lives of the residents of the San Lorenzo Valley. The entire San Lorenzo Valley was evacuated. The children of the community experienced firsthand the terror of wildfire and its aftermath. They also witnessed the firefighters’ courageous efforts to ensure their safety, all of which have made fire safety education more powerful, relevant, and essential in this community.
Collectively, the four fire departments serve the 23,657 residents of the San Lorenzo Valley.
The new custom trailer and props will be delivered in the summer of 2024 and available to train SLVUSD students in the fall of 2024.
This acquisition would not have been accomplished without the help of a community volunteer and his wife, who offered their services after the CZU fire. They helped write the grant and assisted in the application process, which ultimately aided in the success.
After learning about the award, Ben Lomond Fire Chief Stacie Brownlee said, “I am thrilled to accept this grant on behalf of the firefighters of our four SLV departments and the children and families who will benefit from strengthened fire prevention education. Getting this grant is huge in so many ways. Not only does it help us give our community, especially our children, more powerful fire safety and prevention education. The award also recognizes the courage, passion, and perseverance of our volunteer firefighters who show us every day that they are committed to doing everything they can to protect life and property in our mountain communities.”
The BLFPD, the chief sponsor of the grant, has 35 active volunteers, one paid Fire Chief, and a part-time support position. Most of those 35 firefighters currently hold Firefighter One certification. Many of those additionally possess a Firefighter Two certification.
The annual operating budget is $1.06 million. As a condition of the grant, the San Lorenzo Valley Education Trailer JPA will contribute $13,490 toward the purchase and outfitting of the trailer.