PG&E Expands its Community Wildfire Safety Program
In order to reduce the risk of wildfires this season, the Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E) Company has expanded its Community Wildfire Safety Program and released a series of fact sheets to raise awareness about wildfire safety.
As part of its preventative efforts, PG&E will monitor wildfire risks in real time and coordinate efforts from its Wildfire Safety Operations Center. Over the next several years, nearly 600 high-definition cameras will be installed in high fire-threat areas, as well as nearly 1,300 new weather stations. In addition, PG&E is in the process of installing stronger, more resilient poles and covered power lines, and upgrading equipment in fire-prone areas.
To limit the risk of wildfires, PG&E has increased its vegetation management services, conducted safety inspections of electric towers and poles and disabled the automatic reclosing of circuit breakers and reclosers on lines in high-risk areas during the wildfire season.
PG&E also has expanded its Public Safety Power Shutoff program to include all electric lines that pass through high fire-threat areas (those designated as Tier 2 or Tier 3 by the California Public Utilities Commission). Per this program, electric power lines will be turned off when extreme fire danger conditions are forecasted or are present. Some of those factors include a red flag warning from the National Weather Service, low humidity levels (20 percent and below), forecasted sustained winds above 25 mph and /or wind gusts in excess of 45 mph, the condition of dry fuel/vegetation on the ground and real-time observations from PG&E crews.
It’s important to note that any PG&E customer is subject to a public safety shutoff. In the interests of safety, any line that passes through a region experiencing extreme fire danger conditions will be shut off and this can impact communities outside a high fire-threat region. PG&E will attempt to notify customers prior to turning off the power through calls, texts and emails. Customers are strongly encouraged to update their contact information. PG&E also will post shutdown notices on social media channels and updates local news and radio outlets.
To stay safe, people are encouraged to trim back bushes and trees around their house, be certain to have a fire safety plan in place, an emergency kit, back-up charging methods for phones, hard copies of contact numbers and plans in place for medical needs such as refrigerated medications or medical devices that require power.