Santa Rosa's new fire emergency safety tools could be a model for the nation

It's amazing that no more than five people died in Coffey Park when the Tubbs Fire swept through two years ago.

"We got out at the last minute. We didn't know anything was going on until we woke up," said fire victim Janet Reisner.

Before the fire, residents had to opt into the Sonoma County's SoCo Alert system, a system only few Santa Rosa residents used.

Now, there's a lot more systems, all hard to ignore or miss.

"The City of Santa Rosa now has access to the wireless emergency alert system, the Emergency Alert System and our opt-in SoCo Alert has a significant number of people registered for it. We've also taken it a step further, and we've imported information through their water bills," said Lowenthal.

One of the lessons from Coffey Park, in reality, a collection of cul-de-sacs, was that when everybody decided to leave, they went out to the main roads which were all jammed because everybody was going one direction.

Having alternative paths out gives everyone a chance to encounter less traffic.

Santa Rosa Fire's brand new app allows every resident to punch in their address and see a multiplicity of evacuation routes. They can print it out too, to post in their homes.

"So, we're literally doing everything we can do to make sure has every tool available to them," said Lowenthal.

Officials are also studying and seeking grants for bed shakers and bedroom strobe lights activated by alert systems.

But, there's more.

"The City of Santa Rosa is proud to announce now that we also have outfitted our police patrol vehicles and our fire department staff vehicles with a high low siren," said Lowenthal.

"If I hear that siren, I'll know I need to get out," said Reisner.

Sonoma County also has access to networks of cameras, also available to the public, to get as early as possible a bead on a fire and its path to target evacuations so traffic jams will not happen.