After the devastating wildfires in the Bay Area, I have had a number of people ask, "what can we do to be better prepared in our area?"

The answer is, there are a number of things we can do to try and prevent a similar disaster, like creating defensible space around our homes and being registered in the Nixle or County emergency communication system so you can receive early notification of evacuations and other important information.

The other thing you can do is to get training to help yourself and your neighbors in a disaster by taking a CERT, or Community Emergency Response Team 24-hour class. The CERT program educates volunteers about disaster preparedness and trains them in basic disaster response skills specific to their community including wildfire safety, light search and rescue and disaster first aid. CERT offers a consistent, nationwide approach to volunteer training and organization that supports the efforts of local fire agencies during disaster situations, which allows them to focus on more complex tasks.

CERT volunteers are trained to respond safely, responsibly, and effectively to emergency situations, but they can also support their communities during non-emergency events as well.

There are over 2,700 local CERT programs nationwide, with more than 600,000 individuals trained since CERT became a national program. Locally, over 200 people have received the training. The goal of the program is to train as many people as possible and there is no commitment required to continue participation in the CERT team after the class.

To join the next free local CERT class go to your local Fire District web site at, or and use the Community Outreach drop down to access information on CERT in your area.

Truckee Fire's next class starts March 13, so sign up today to hold your spot. Call 530-582-7850 for more information.

Bill Seline is fire chief at the Truckee Fire Protection District.