FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Ahead of wildfire season, state and local leaders are working to create a network of clean air centers in the Central Valley -- much the same way cooling centers are utilized during extreme heat
"Facilities that are capable of providing the greatest amount of access to the public as a clean air center during this wildfire smoke events," says Jocelyn Mejia-Talamantes with the San Joaquin Valley Air District.
The new pilot program will launch on May 1.
Assembly Bill 836 provides the Valley Air District $750,000 in funding to upgrade ventilation systems and purchase portable air cleaners where vulnerable populations may face the greatest challenges in protecting themselves during wildfires or other smoke events.
Resources will be used to create temporary clean air shelters at places such as schools, community centers, senior centers and libraries.
"Given that this is a pilot program, the goal is just to understand what the demand is and the frequency in which these facilities are being utilized," Mejia-Talamantes said.
Both public and private entities can apply for the grant money -- the process will remain open through the month of May.
"The facility must be located in an area that has documented evidence of multiple days at or above the unhealthy category of the air now quality index due to wildfire smoke in the past five years," Mejia-Talamantes said.