SCFSC History Summary
SCFSC was incorporated as Santa Clara Fire Safe Council Inc. in October 2002 but SCFSC's history goes back a few years earlier. SCFSC had three 2001 Federal Grants from the USDI Bureau of Land Management that started in October 2001. County Fire Chief Dirk Mattern (now retired) remembers, "I was first approached by Curt Itson around November or December of 1997 who said that CDF wanted to start up a council in Santa Clara County. The first 'official' meeting of the then called 'Firesafe Council - West Santa Clara County' was held on 1/28/1998. It was started and chaired by Curt Itson with CDF."
SCFSC's public name is Santa Clara County FireSafe Council (to avoid confusion with the City of Santa Clara) and its mission is, "Mobilizing the people of Santa Clara County to protect their homes, communities and environment from wildfires." SCFSC's primary programs are Community Outreach and Education, Hazardous Fuel Assessment and Strategy Projects to write Community Wildfire Protection Plans, and Hazardous Fuel Reduction Programs and Projects. Our Web Site is www.SCCFireSafe.org.
By early-2015, SCFSC had completed 27 Federal Grants from four Federal Agencies and also had a 2013 Federal Grant in progress and new 2014 and 2015 Federal Grants, all from the USDA Forest Service.
SCFSC was 100% funded by Federal Grants until 2004 when we made two historic decisions:
- We're going to need some other sources of funding (because we could see that we were going to run out of grant funds soon).
- We started looking for help and we found Jan Cokely (or maybe she found us?). We all looked at Dirk and he nodded OK so we put our money (not much at that low point) on Jan who became our first "Council Coordinator," because she said she could help us raise funds from other sources (she was one brave woman).
Jan started in June, 2004, and our first donation, $250 from Pacific Gas and Electric Company (Thank you, Chris Hughes), was in July, 2004. We've never looked back! Now our cumulative Federal Grant Revenue is over $1.5 Million and our Revenue from other sources (Contributions, Donations and In-Kind Services) is over $1.7 Million. We have the support of the Santa Clara County Fire Chiefs' Association and SCFSC has 5-year agreements with the Cities of Palo Alto and Saratoga and the Saratoga Fire District to provide Hazardous Fuel Reduction and Community Outreach and Education Programs for their residents.
2014 was a very good year for SCFSC with record-high Revenues and Expenses, a very good Surplus, and positive Cash Flow. More than half of our Expenses were in Q4, thanks to the PG&E Fuel Reduction Projects which made a very significant contribution to the results for the year. Our agreements with the Cities of Palo Alto and Saratoga and the Saratoga Fire District contributed to the 2014 results including record-high In-Kind Contributions of Services by CAL FIRE and other partners.
Did this go smoothly with SCFSC gently growing from 2002 to where it is today? No, it has been a roller coaster with growth rates in expenses as high as 240% and drops as low as 30% from the previous year in recent years. The peak year for SCFSC before 2014 was 2011 with Revenue over $500,000 while we were working on seven Federal Grants. Our “roller coaster” was the subject of a Wall Street Journal article in May 2013. Lexington Hills Area Manager June Salsbury is describing the chipping on Old Logging Road to Wall Street Journal reporter Jim Carlton in the photo at right. Click on the photo to read the Wall Street Journal article.
The history of SCFSC is, of course, the history of the people who have worked for or participated in SCFSC and our programs. See the SCFSC People page to read about some of these people.
Comments: Your comments and contributions to this SCFSC History are welcome and appreciated. Please use the comment form at the bottom of each page. These comments are moderated and may be edited for clarity so your comments will not be visible until they have been reviewed. If you prefer, you can send us an e-mail using the Contact form.
Glossary for this chapter (see the Table of Contents for a more complete glossary):
CDF – California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, part of which is now called CAL FIRE.
SCFSC – Santa Clara Fire Safe Council Inc. or Santa Clara County FireSafe Council (we don't use SCCFSC).
County Fire – Santa Clara County Fire Department.
USDA – U.S. Department of Agriculture which includes the U.S. Forest Service.
USDI – U.S. Department of the Interior which includes the Bureau of Land Management and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
References for this chapter:
See www.sccfiresafe.org/santa-clara-county-firesafe-council/public-information for the SCFSC Articles of Incorporation, ByLaws and other public information including the public financial information in this history.
E-mails from Dirk Mattern.