Eugene Springfield Fire is implementing emergency evacuation zones in case of a wildfire or other natural disaster.
On the fire department webpage, residents can access an online interactive map to locate their evacuation zone, and sign up for Lane County’s AlertSense system to notify residents via mobile phone.
On the map, the Eugene-Springfield area is split into 50 numbered zones, with three public meeting points at the Lane County Fairgrounds, the Valley River Center in Eugene, and the Bob Keefer Center in Springfield.
Notifications will include road hazards and best routes of travel to the assembly points or a safe area.
Fire Chief Chris Heppel advised residents to make plans with family and neighbors in case of emergency evacuation.
“It’s not just know your zone or your home,” Heppel said, “accidents also occur when we’re at work, so what’s the zone that you work in, and how can you send that information to your coworkers, and develop a good plan as to how you’re going to evacuate those areas, so be aware of where you’re at.”
Eugene City Councilor and former fire chief Randy Groves also emphasized the importance of having a physical copy of the zone map to refer to.
“Don’t rely on accessing this online at the time of emergency,” Groves said. “Depending on what the event is, internet connectivity can go down, cellphones can go down, so I think it’s important to not only know your zone, but maybe have a hard copy of the map with your emergency kit that you have hopefully prepared, ready to evacuate.”
The zone map and alert system are an effort to better organize the resources available for emergencies, said Heppel.
“A lot of this came out of the fires in Northern California,” Heppel said, “recognizing the need for a more orderly method of evacuating larger communities, and so our team looked at that and mirrored much of what’s going on in Northern California.”
Lane County is currently working on a system to serve the rest of the county, and the McKenzie Valley test alert on July 9th was part of that project.