Letters to the editor for Sept. 23, 2013

Union Democrat staff

Thank-yous and returning the favor

To the Editor:

Returning home from Pinecrest, I was struck by the volume and sincerity of "Thank You Rim Firefighters" signs. From roadside posters and hand-painted banners, signs tacked to telephone poles, messages on car windows, and signs in shop windows and stores, the community gratitude was palpable. And don't forget the plates of homemade cookies and cases of water delivered by thankful and concerned residents to fireline workers and air attack personnel at Columbia Airbase.

In 41 seasons of fighting wildland fires across the U.S., in Central and South America and in Australia, I've never seen a more heartfelt and widespread outpouring of individual and community gratitude than that Tuolumne County is showing for the 5,000 firefighters that came from all over the state and nation to do their best work. I know the warmth and pride each firefighter feels and how they smile each time they drive past one of those signs.

But if you really want to thank firefighters, here's how: Thin vegetation, prune trees, cut dead grass and clean up flammable debris around your home. Create the Defensible Space that allows firefighters to do their job more safely.

California State Law requires we do this around structures for a distance of 100 feet or to the property line, whichever comes first. There's still time to do this work, as we have the worst part of the fire season ahead of us yet. But the dry weather and fuels means the work must be done with caution.

A call to your nearest fire station or Cal Fire will get you information to do it right and safely. By showing you care enough to do your part to safeguard your home, the responding engine company or handcrew will reciprocate by giving their all to protect your property.

John Swanson


The Union Democrat
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