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Posted on 03.29.2012 4:59 p.m.

Montecito Fire District Receives $50,000 Grant to Help Prevent Wildfires

Donation from two companies will fund Neighborhood Defensible Space Program

Source: Geri Ventura for the Montecito Fire Protection District

With the start of this year’s wildfire season upon us, Arthur J. Gallagher Risk Management Services and the Fireman’s Fund Insurance Company are teaming up to support a program that keeps neighborhoods safer from the raging fires.

The two companies are donating $50,000 to the Montecito Fire Protection District for its “Neighborhood Defensible Space Program,” which aims to reduce the volume of flammable vegetation within local neighborhoods. Eight neighborhoods are targeted for this year’s outreach efforts, which include personalized advice from district experts about clearing space, a chipper service that will chip and haul vegetation left at the curb, and trimming of roadside hedges.

“This grant package helps supplement our current budget and allows us to maintain our brush clearing efforts in the district,” Fire Chief Kevin Wallace said. “Our targeted neighborhoods are critical wildland areas within Santa Barbara County.”

Fire district officials, firefighters and executives from the Arthur J. Gallagher and Fireman’s Fund will come together for a special public event during a scheduled neighborhood clearing to present the grant package:

The grant is part of a nationwide philanthropic program funded by Fireman’s Fund Insurance Company. The program is designed to provide needed equipment, training and educational tools to local fire department and burn prevention organizations.

Since 2004, the Fireman’s Fund has issued grants to more than 1,800 organizations totaling more than $29 million. Independent insurance agencies and brokers that sell Fireman’s Fund products, like Arthur J. Gallagher, are able to direct these grants to support the fire service. Through this program, Arthur J. Gallagher has directed over $930,000 in grants to fire departments nationwide.

“Wildfires are one of the biggest dangers facing communities and homeowners in this area,” said James McFarlane, chairman of Arthur J. Gallagher Risk Management Services’ Western Region. “This funding will ensure the fire district has the money it needs to reduce the risk of fire and keep the region as safe as possible. Montecito firefighters are extremely proactive when it comes to brush clearance, which is obviously of great concern to the community.”

Click here to visit Fireman’s Fund’s “Supporting Firefighters” Facebook page.

— Geri Ventura represents the Montecito Fire Protection District.

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