Monday, July 7, 2008 | June’s lightning storms ignited so many fires at once that the CalFire system was overwhelmed.

Citizen volunteers took matters into their own hands with admirable skill and determination. While one volunteer died, I’m sure his family is proud that he gave his life for the community.

Computer programmers, teachers, gardeners and all our neighbors have what it takes to provide crucial assistance when firestorms hit us. With climate change and droughts, this will happen more and more.

Our local governments simply do not have the money, manpower, or resources to do the job alone. Therefore, we all must be preparing ourselves now, especially if we live close to fire hazards.

You can buy generator powered poolside water pumps and have them ready for emergencies. In addition to making your home and its surroundings fire-resistant, you’ll meet your neighbors and have an open talk about how you could work together in the event of a fire.

There are courses in life saving, first aid, and CPR. Most Navy veterans (more than a few here in San Diego) know basic firefighting techniques.

It’s not to encourage people to take risks that I write about this topic again. Instead, I hope we can take an honest assessment of our situation, plan ahead for this and future fire seasons, and then work together in times of crises to augment our firefighting professionals’ efforts.

We’re not dumb. We see what’s coming. We know we’ll have to fend for ourselves at times. Let’s get ready. Able-bodied residents acting together can prevent major damage and save lives by preparing now for what is sure to come sooner or later. I hope our local and state governments will encourage this, but don’t believe they will act quickly enough.

So I urge everyone in San Diego, and especially our veterans, to knock on a neighbor’s door this week and have a chat about what you’ll do together in the event of a fire.

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