The 2020 Fire Season is upon us. San Luis Obispo County Fire Department protects and serves 1.5 million acres within the unincorporated area of the county, and it is our goal is to contain 95% of all unwanted fires at 10 acres or less.
Five years of drought have had a significant impact on fuels. Late rains have given us a brief interruption in fire activity, but have also added to a very large grass crop (2+ tons per acre) As the seasonal temperatures begin to increase and as we have prolonged wind events, so will our fire activity. We will experience a very active fire season here in our county and statewide. This potential will extend regionally throughout the central coast and into Southern California. We will have an increased large fire potential between July and the end of the year.
The good news is that we have increased our prevention efforts while working with the San Luis Obispo County Fire Safe Council. We have updated our Unit Fire Plan to include: 2,000-6,000 acres of prescribed burning; 500 acres of fuel reduction through mastication and hand crews; awarded a grant for Hazard Mitigation Mapping and Countywide Hazardous Fuel Reduction; and State Parks Grant was just awarded for 1,054 acres of fuels reduction in Morro Bay and San Simeon.
The leading cause for fires in our county are vehicles and equipment use. Please make sure your vehicle(s) are in good working order, and do not drive in tall dry grass. If towing, ensure your chains are not dragging. Avoid mowing after 10am, and make sure your equipment has a spark arrester. You can help reduce your risks by being prepared for a possible wildland fire. Create defensible space around your home; use outdoor equipment properly; and be ready for a possible evacuation. Learn more here https://www.readyforwildfire.org/
I hope everyone gets to enjoy our very beautiful outdoors this summer while being safe!
Scott M. Jalbert
CAL FIRE/San Luis Obispo County Fire Department Chief
Scott Jalbert is the Unit Chief and County Fire Chief for the CAL FIRE Unit and the San Luis Obispo County Fire Department. He oversees the fire services for San Luis Obispo County, the City of Pismo Beach, and the communities of Los Osos and Avila Beach. He has been in the fire service for 29 years. Chief Jalbert started his career in 1987 as a Fire Fighter I with CAL FIRE. He has served as a Fire Fighter II, Fire Apparatus Engineer, Fire Captain, Battalion Chief, Division Chief, Deputy Chief. Before coming to San Luis Obispo, he was the Unit Chief with CAL FIRE San Mateo/Santa Cruz Unit.
He has a background in both municipal and wildland fire operations working in San Mateo, Santa Cruz, Lake, and San Luis Obispo Counties. As a fire captain, he was assigned to a Paramedic Engine; Wildland Engine, Emergency Command Center, training division, and a Haz-Mat Team. As a chief officer, he worked as a field battalion chief, fire camp division chief, and as the unit operations chief.
Chief Jalbert was on a Type I IMT for over 13 years. He is qualified as a Strike Team Leader, Division Group Supervisor, Operations Branch Director, Type I Operations Section Chief, Type I Planning Chief, Agency Rep, Agency Administrator, Area Commander, and as a Type I Incident Commander. He has years of experience working in EOC’s at the county, city, and department levels in addition to serving as the Area Fire Coordinator for Santa Cruz County.
He was raised in Redwood City and currently resides in the Templeton area with his wife and three children.