Family fun, wildfire safety promoted at 6th annual expo in South Lake Tahoe |

Family fun, wildfire safety promoted at 6th annual expo in South Lake Tahoe

Jessica Aguayo, of South Lake Tahoe, with two nieces and a nephew Saturday at the expo.
Ashleigh Goodwin/Tahoe Daily Tribune

SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. — The 6th annual Fire Expo on Saturday sowed seeds for future generations, sparked imaginations and gave families “something to do” all at the same time.

Multi-colored tents were visible through the pinecone curtains from U.S. Highway 50 filled the South Tahoe Middle School parking lot for the free community event. 

The expo was hosted by South Lake Tahoe Fire Rescue with support from many other agencies such as Tahoe Douglas Fire District, Tahoe Fire and Fuels Team, Zephyr Chipping Crew, Cal Fire, El Dorado County Sheriff’s Office Search and Rescue, and local Firewise USA certified neighborhood leaders were in attendance such as Dianne Rees and Jesse Garner. 

Garner told the Tribune it’s essential to get the word out to increase the amount of Firewise USA communities in the area; the two most needed resources, he added, people to be involved and funding. 

Another booth at the expo was represented by Rees and the Al Tahoe Firewise Community informing passersby about essential home hardening efforts and how they can save residents money thanks to California insurance commissioner Ricardo Lara‘s new mandate.

El Dorado County District V Supervisor Brooke Laine was in attendance and said, “Considering how prevalent the fire risks are in the area the Wildfire Safety Expo is a great event for both adults and children, it keeps us on our toes,” 

“I love our firefighters and police officers because they keep us safe,” said 5-year-old local Oliver Gallegos, who got a chance to try his hand at firefighting at the sunny, family-friendly event. 

Fire Marshall Kim George helps 5-year-old Oliver Gallegos learn how to use a fire extinguisher.
Ashleigh Goodwin/Tahoe Daily Tribune

SLTFR Fire Marshall  Kim George provided live action firefighting demonstrations on how to use a fire extinguisher in a controlled setting.

Expo row displayed education rich visuals including actual tools used by crews of the Tahoe Douglas Fire Protection District.

Will Schultz, lead crew member of Zephyr Fire Crew, described the “crew buggy” which is just a little bigger than an ambulance, and tools the rig is outfitted with.

“Crew buggies carry six crew members each and we send three trucks to any fire. Each truck typically carries three chain saws, Initial attack packs, and a plethora of other tools,” Schultz told the Tribune. 

South Lake Tahoe Fire Rescue Chief Jim Drennan presents an award to El Dorado County District V Supervisor Brooke Laine.
Ashleigh Goodwin/Tahoe Daily Tribune

The compact response vehicles allow crews to get into locations larger fire trucks aren’t able to, additionally the crews have everything they need to self-sustain in rural areas while fighting fire for up to 48 hours.

Home hardening and defensible space are two phrases that are frequently topics of discussion in the basin. 

Wildfire Safety Solutions, a company that described themselves as “home hardening experts,” are owned and operated by a team of professionals who have over 35 years experience in the commercial, public and residential construction industry. 

Paul Machi and Lance Doyle represented the business with their experience in all aspects of construction including fire protection, fire alarm, life safety, special inspections, and mechanical systems.

“Our focus is to bring homes up to standards set by the National Fire Protection Association: The leading information and knowledge resource on fire, electrical and related hazards,” Machi said. “A big risks to homes is the storm of embers that blow at a house during a wildfire.” 

NFPA also outlines the guidelines for Firewise USA communities and the requirements to receive discounts on insurance premiums. 

The variety of risks are so diverse that Machi said the “hardening” focus is on structures themselves and their independent needs. Services offered by Wild Safety Solutions include fire retardant spray treatments which treat trees biodegradable and eco friendly fire retardant typically ten feet up the trunk of trees.

Wildfire Safety Expo 2023.
Ashleigh Goodwin/Tahoe Daily Tribune

Additional systems are available such as the advanced Platypus, a fire sprinkler system that is a cellular based smart system which triggers upon detecting temperatures of 120 degrees and up. 

Many families and individuals strolled the event. Despite learning to prepare for the worst, many children recorded positive memories. 

“It’s something to do,” said Jessica Aguayo, born and raised in South Lake Tahoe. “My parents use to bring me to [events like] this when I was a kid, at the airport.” 

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