Mayacamas Volunteer Fire Foundation update
By Allison Ash, Board President
The Sonoma Valley Fire Department now manages the firefighting operations for what used to be the Mayacamas Volunteer Fire Department, so we have changed our name to Mayacamas Volunteer Fire Foundation (MVFF) to better reflect our new role in serving our community. We still will be funding large portions of the fire engines needed for our volunteers, but will have more funds to provide our coverage area with better fire safety and community information.
Keeping our evacuation routes open is critical in a wildland fire situation, and that means we need to remove dead trees — even those very far from the roadway — that could block the road if they fell. In addition, fuel reduction everywhere is key to maintaining our area as fire-safe as possible. Both of these endeavors cost a lot of money — millions — and are the responsibility of both government organizations and landowners.
Government organizations can best afford to do this kind of work if they offer local Fire Safe Council (FSC) grant money. A local FSC knows best what needs to be done and has less costly overhead, so more of the dollars go directly to the work. That is why MVFF and its FSC have been working on getting grants. We have recently applied for a $75,000 fuel reduction grant from PG& E. If we’re successful in winning this grant, we will get you details on the work that will be done.
We lost two iconic members of our community in the recent months: Misty Browning and Marilyn Ponting. Misty, a long-time Cavedale resident, was known to many because of her love for animals (she lived with two horses, several sheep, two dogs, and three cats), her unwavering independence, and her love for this place we call the Mayacamas. Marilyn was a founding member of the MVFD and one of its first firefighters … one of only two women we have ever had on the team. Her story is epic. Though I’m saddened to lose these amazing Mayacamas women, I’m grateful to have known them and to have benefited from their legacies.
I’d like to talk seriously about volunteering to join the MVFF. We have a lot we can do to serve our community and, as you know, many hands make light work. We would like to add two new board members and expand our team. We meet once a month, meetings last about two hours and, speaking for myself, there is an hour or so every week that I do something associated with the MVFF.
It is not a huge time commitment, and the benefits are exponential. Our board is always in-the-know about what fire and emergency calls are taking place, is the first to know about county fire preparedness and fire season information, and can prioritize where grant money is spent, decide what events we will have, and get to know most every neighbor in our service area. Isn’t it time for you to look into joining? Please take just 15 minutes to find out more. Contact me at [email protected] and we’ll set up a time to talk.
Finally, it has to be said that the last two years were hard for everyone, and our MVFF was thwarted at every turn by COVID-19 and unable to keep our community events going. With cautious optimism we are bringing back our June Picnic and the Starlight Auction!
The board would also like to acknowledge two people who have left our organization in the last year: Mayacamas Olds, who served as MVFF board president, and Lisa Warner, who served as MFSC chairperson. Both Lisa and Mayacamas care deeply about the Mayacamas community, and both achieved much on our behalf during the last two years despite the challenges of COVID-19.
This article originally appeared in the Mayacamas Volunteer Fire Foundation Spring newsletter.