Anaheim Fire & Rescue partners with O.C. Conservation Corps to clear brush in parks


El Niño continues to dominate headlines, but preventative work is under way in Anaheim concerning another natural threat:

Wildland fires.

In a partnership with the Orange County Conservation Corps, Anaheim Fire & Rescue said Tuesday removal and thinning of vegetation has started in Deer Canyon Park, to be followed by Pelanconi Park.

Over the next 60 days (weather permitting), a team of 20 supervised OCCC members will be seen and heard working in and around Deer Canyon Park and its entrances between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. on weekdays, AF&R said in a Jan. 12 news release.

AF&R’s affiliation with OCCC is a continued effort of the agency’s comprehensive Community Risk Reduction program specifically focused on the Wildland Urban Interface efforts, the news release said.

Defensible space has proven to be successful to thwart forward-moving wildland fires, AF&R said in the news release. A home within one mile of a natural area is at risk of wind-driven flying embers that can attack one’s home far from the actual flame of the wildfire.

“Parts of the eastern portion of Anaheim are considered very high fire severity zones,” said Anaheim Fire & Rescue Chief Randy Bruegman. “Teaming with OCCC, we have the opportunity to reduce the fire hazard and provide more defensible space against future wildfires for property owners.

“At the same time,” Bruegman added, “we are providing young adults with a meaningful educational and valuable work experience. The buffer created by OCCC will reduce the risk of flying embers and help keep the fire away. Everyone benefits from this collaboration.”

Founded in 1993, OCCC is a private, non-profit organization that serves young adults who need support in the transition of adolescence to adult employability by providing work projects that benefit the community while instilling a work ethic and sense of public service.

In many cases, OCCC provides the first paid work experience for Orange County’s young adults.

“OCCC has a long history of working with both public and private sectors to perform various conservation and environmentally related services,” said Jeremy Newton, project manager at OCCC. “We’re excited to work with Anaheim Fire & Rescue to reduce the fire hazards for Anaheim’s residents.”