Four conversations to have before fire season

Updated: Jul 21

Amid a historic drought, California communities are facing the prospect of an early and intense fire season. While state and local leaders are investing unprecedented sums in wildfire mitigation efforts, libraries are also revisiting their disaster response plans. Before fire season intensifies, consider how the four conversations below can support your preparedness efforts.


With staff and volunteers

Through staff meetings, onboarding activities for new hires and informal discussions, libraries are engaging staff and volunteers on the topic of preparedness. Ahead of fire season, use the questions below to help staff and volunteers to feel more prepared:

  • What will we do if a wildfire impacts our community?

  • How will we adapt services and programming?

  • If library staff are designated as disaster service workers, what roles might the city or county ask us to play?

  • What do we see as the library’s unique role during a disaster? What role do we want to play?

  • How will we support employees or volunteers if they are personally affected?


With city and county managers

Libraries are tightly coupled systems, which are embedded in larger governmental structures. Strengthening relationships with city and county leaders can greatly increase a library’s readiness to respond, in the event of a disaster. When talking with city or county leaders, discuss:

  • How is our city and county preparing for fire season?

  • What trainings or preparedness exercises are taking place?

  • How can library staff participate in these efforts?

  • What will be expected of library staff during a disaster?

  • Are library staff designated disaster service workers?

  • What roles will library staff play?

  • What is the city or county’s plan for communication during a disaster?


With community organizations

In the aftermath of a disaster, a wide range of community groups will also assist with response and recovery. Consider the library’s existing partnerships and strengthen relationships with organizations supporting the most vulnerable members of your community. When connecting with community organizations, discuss:

  • How is your organization preparing for fire season?

  • What role will your organization play in disaster response and recovery?

  • How can we support each other during a disaster?

  • Who else should we be talking to?


With library “buddies” and peers

To encourage greater sharing and collaboration, NorthNet Library System has also created a regionwide buddy system. Libraries identify a “buddy” library who can share resources, assist with planning and provide support during a disaster. Whether your library has formal or informal partnerships with library peers, consider reaching out to them ahead of fire season. Topics to discuss include:

  • How is your library preparing?

  • What resources can we share?

  • How will we support each other during a disaster?

  • Will we provide informal support or create a mutual aid agreement?


For additional preparedness insights, check out our statewide panel discussion on wildfire preparedness and visit the Prepare section of LibraryRecovery.org.

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