Ready, Set, Go: Irvine Police and Orange County Fire Authority Team Up to Educate Irvine Residents on Wildfire Threat

As the smoke from the Holy Jim Fire rises like a nuclear blast high above Saddleback Mountain’s Santiago Peak, looking up should be all that is needed to remind Irvine residents of the very real threat that wildfires present to our community.

That’s why the newly announced “Ready, Set, Go” Wildfire Preparedness Program recently launched by the Irvine Police Department and the Orange County Fire Authority could not be more timely.

The Irvine Police Department’s Office of Emergency Management is partnering with the Orange County Fire Authority (OCFA) on a Wildfire Preparedness campaign that kicked off Tuesday. The outreach focuses on the “Ready, Set, Go” strategy championed by OCFA.

Irvine neighborhoods that are most at risk of wildfire will be targeted, including Turtle Rock, Shady Canyon, Quail Hill, Orchard Hills and Portola Springs.

Residents will notice banners carrying the “Ready, Set, Go” message, and those who live in at-risk areas will receive postcards in the mail offering tips on how to prepare for wildfire. The Irvine Police Department and OCFA will also utilize social media to spread the word.

The campaign emphasizes these key messages:

Ready: Protect your home ahead of time by taking steps to mitigate wildfire risk.

Set: Prepare for an emergency by assembling a bag of important items that you would need in the event of emergency. This includes clothes, medication and other personal items. Develop a family emergency plan that details escape routes and reunification plans.

Go: Leave early in the event of an emergency. Avoid traffic congestion and other complications by evacuating at the earliest opportunity. In the event of evacuation, all City of Irvine emergency shelters will have options available for pets.

Irvine residents are further encouraged to sign up to receive emergency notifications at

The campaign continues through October 31. Visit or for more information on wildfire preparedness.

Irvine’s Innovative iWild Program Helps Humans and Wildlife Coexist

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When my cousins Geoff and Helaine moved to Irvine last year from Connecticut, they were a bit unnerved when they realized that coyotes were frequent visitors to their neighborhood in Portola Springs.  Actually, “visitors” is the wrong word.  Wild animals – such as coyotes, as well as mountain lions, bobcats, raccoons, opossums, skunks and rattlesnakes – are native to this part of the world. Long before the City of Irvine was founded, the Irvine Valley was their home. Many migrating birds also have long made Irvine a prime stop on their journeys. We are the newcomers here, not them.

We urban humans are the ones who have encroached on these animals’ natural habitat, and we need to learn to live with the wildlife in our environment.

Irvine’s Innovative iWild Program Helps Humans and Wildlife Coexist

That’s the idea behind the new iWild program developed by the Irvine Police Department.

Introduced this past March, iWild is an innovative, year-round program designed to increase community awareness and understanding of wildlife in Irvine.

The ultimate goal of the program is to decrease human-wildlife conflict.

Based on a Neighborhood Watch model, the iWild program works with community members to form teams to monitor and report on wildlife activity in their neighborhoods. The teams are trained by Irvine Animal Control Officers, under the leadership of Animal Services Supervisor Kimberly Cherney.

Why iWILD?

  • Calls about wildlife activity are common in the city.
  • There are some misconceptions about wildlife activity that can be dispelled through education.
  • No one knows your neighborhood, and what goes on there, better than you do.
  • Wildlife conflicts can be traumatic and emotional for those who have lost pets.
  • Working cooperatively, neighborhoods and Animal Services can reduce wildlife conflicts in our communities.
  • Equipped with the right information and tools, we can prevent and resolve most wildlife conflicts.

Irvine’s terrain and wildlife habitat vary from neighborhood to neighborhood.  By forming neighborhood-specific teams, the iWild program encourages team members to address the specific wildlife issues they are facing in their neighborhoods.

While Animal Control Officers will remain available to respond to truly dangerous or unusual wildlife activity, they will be less likely to be summoned to deal with the normal activities of Irvine’s wildlife.

It is hoped that working together and armed with the right information, iWild teams and Irvine Animal Control can reduce human-wildlife conflicts in our communities so that both humans and wildlife benefit.

To learn more about the iWild program, or to get involved with an iWild team in your neighborhood, contact Animal Services Supervisor Kimberly Cherney at 949-724-7091 or

Other excellent resources for living with wildlife in Orange County are:

City of Irvine Animal Services

City of Irvine Coyote Information

City of Irvine “Got a Minute?” Coyote Information Video

City of Irvine Legal Information about Animals

City of Irvine Information about Bird Nests and Fledglings

City of Irvine Animal Services Brochures (on Coyotes, Birds, Bats, Snakes, Ducks, Mountain Lions, Raccoons, Opossums, Ducks and more).

Orange County Animal Care Wildlife Information (including brochures on Bats, Coyotes, Mountain Lions, Opossums, Raccoons, Rattlesnakes, Skunks, Snakes, and Urban Ducks).