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Orange County Fire Watch Enhances Capabilities with Virtual Monitoring

​With fire season upon us and COVID-19 regulations in place, Fire Watch volunteers are still able to successfully monitor fire danger virtually and protect the Irvine Ranch Natural Landmarks from potential wildfire threats from their homes.
 
Under normal circumstances, Fire Watch volunteers would report in-person to specific locations around Orange County and to the Fire Watch Operations Center during Red Flag Days to monitor for potential fire danger. 
​“Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we have transitioned some of our activities to a virtual Fire Watch, so our volunteers can have the opportunity to be involved and successfully monitor fire danger while staying safe in their own home,” said Orange County Fire Watch Manager Tony Pointer.
 
During virtual Fire Watch activities, volunteers will access real-time SCE Alert Wildfire Cameras from their personal devices to search for signs of smoke or potential fire danger and report any threats to 911 or the Fire Watch Operations Center Hotline. To adjust to these virtual activities, each Fire Watch volunteer has gone through zoom training sessions and will monitor multiple cameras from the 28 that cover the Irvine Ranch Natural Landmarks and other areas in Orange County in four-hour increments.
 
“The virtual Fire Watch activity is our next evolution of using the SCE Alert Wildfire Cameras,” said Pointer. “The existing public interface has been an extra set of eyes for Fire Watch for over two years, so we have been prepared for a situation like this.”
 
Fire Watch volunteers who are able to work in the field will deploy under special COVID-19 guidelines with two volunteers physically distanced with face coverings at 36 locations across Orange County. Field volunteers will drive their own vehicles to an assigned location and have personal Fire Watch kits on-hand.
 
“Having a back-up plan is the nature of our industry,” said Pointer. “The pandemic is another hurdle we have to overcome and virtual Fire Watch is another way to help prevent wildfires on the Landmarks.”
 
For more information about Fire Watch visit LetsGoOutside.org/activities/fire-watch. For more information on the Irvine Ranch Natural Landmarks visit www.LetsGoOutside.org.