In response to the devastating Woolsey Fire in November of 2018 in Los Angeles and Ventura Counties, a group of Calabasas citizens banded together to form EPIC-FSC, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization dedicated to helping local residents mitigate risks, survive an emergency, and recover from fires, earthquakes, and other natural disasters.
“While we watched flying embers threaten our neighborhoods during the Woolsey Fire, we realized that natural disasters affect our entire community,” explains EPIC-FSC President Brian Cameron. “That’s when we knew we had to join together and take the necessary measures to harden homes.”
What started in response to a devastating wildfire has grown to include earthquakes and other natural disasters. EPIC-FSC has a clear strategy and a definite plan to help local residents reduce and manage risk. The organization’s mission is to engage as many residents as possible to take advantage of the valuable programs aimed at preparing all 8,400 homes in Calabasas for an emergency. Volunteers are ready to help residents harden their homes, obtain and learn how to use handheld radios, and, eventually, receive life-saving information and communications through an emergency app—all designed to prioritize and protect human life, existing structures, and the wildlife and unique habitat of Calabasas and neighboring communities. On a global scale, the area is part of the Mediterranean Scrub biome found in only five regions worldwide: the Mediterranean Sea, Chile, South Africa, Australia, and Southern California.
EPIC-FSC has partnered with the experts at CalFire and the Resource Conservation District of the Santa Monica Mountains to create the following 3-part strategy and a definitive plan to help residents reduce and manage risk when it comes to natural disasters.
Calabasas residents are encouraged to take advantage of the organization’s free property assessment inspection to learn how to harden their homes against wildfires. Not only will homeowners help mitigate risks for their homes and community, but they will also save money and retain their insurance policies. California has become the first state in the nation to require insurance premium discounts for owners of homes and businesses made safer from wildfires. Under California’s Safer From Wildfires framework, the new rules mandate that insurance companies reward consumers who take wildfire safety and mitigation actions.
“CalFire and insurance companies say home hardening is one of the best ways to protect homes from fires and limit the spread of wildfires in a community,” explains EPIC-FSC President Brian Cameron. “We’ve partnered with the experts at CalFire and the Resource Conservation District of the Santa Monica Mountains to help provide our Calabasas neighbors with a free property assessment inspection to harden their homes against wildfires.”
EPIC-FSC’s Emergency Communication for Home Occupants (ECHO) program complements the City’s Emergency Response Program (CERP) Radio Team, both designed to offer basic disaster response skills before, during, and after an incident. Neighbors in clusters of households, called Cells, can talk to each other and receive reliable emergency information using a special Family Radio Service (FRS). EPIC-FSC will help residents buy and use these radios to communicate during and after an event.
Many homeowners don’t know if their property could withstand shaking from a damaging earthquake. Modern homes, even though they may experience structural damage, are designed to remain standing. However, about 1.2 million homes built before 1980 are considered more vulnerable because they are not bolted to their foundations and lack bracing on the wood-framed walls. These homes need to be retrofitted to improve their seismic performance.