(KRON) — Know your zone is the phrase you will be hearing more frequently this wildfire season. Fire departments and other emergency operation centers are ramping up using identified zones or areas in communities to alert residents of evacuations.
The program called Zonehaven is being hailed as a great helping hand to protect lives and property, according to officials.
“It started in San Mateo and other communities like Moraga and Orinda got into it and it expanded from there,” Jonathan Cox with San Mateo Cal Fire said.
Jonathan Cox is the deputy fire chief of San Mateo Cal Fire division. Working in the fire service for decades, he has seen first hand the horror of wildfires and the chaos it can bring to a community. That is why he says a program called Zonehaven can be helpful.
“The implementation of zone haven in San Mateo County was the first to implement it,” Cox said. “It was really predicated on this idea that evacuations didn’t have to be kind of constructed in the heat of the moment.”
Cox explains, Zonehaven is an actual software program that assigns numbers to areas in communities using it – hence the catch phrase “know your zone”.
“So in the past, they would have a big map and use sharpies to draw lines and then try and communicate those sharpie lines to the public,” Napa County Supervisor Ryan Gregory said.
On Monday, emergency personal called for evacuation orders in several zones due to a fire. Gregory says county residents are still getting used to their numbers but he says the zone concept provides much clearer communication.
“In 2017, we were sending out evacuation advisories from here to there and it was not the best way to communicate,” he said.
Woody Baker-Cohn is with Marin County Office of Emergency Services. He and the others say knowing your zone is not replacing other forms of critical communications but rather a complementing what’s already there.
“It simples things and allows us all to be on the same sheet of music,” Baker-Cohn said.
Officials all say the bottom line of trying to do all that can be done to save lives and property, especially as wildfire season leans into high gear.
“100%, that’s what we’re always looking to do,” Cox added.
For more information on Zonehaven, click the link here.