Sunday, April 26, 2015

Fire season now a reality throughout the year

With 60 square miles of combustible terrain under his organization's watch, and more and more people living in the wildland/urban interface, the question to the answer of wildfire, is not if, but when? Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Marshal John Vincent knows that. The key is, he says, to become a fire-adapted community. And we do that by planning.
"We live on a fire planet," explained Vincent at a recent Firewise presentation on how to protect homes from wildfire and save firefighters lives at Tri-Lakes United Methodist Church, in the Kings Deer area.
"What we need to do is to prepare so we can have fire, but without it becoming catastrophic, as the Black Forest Fire became in less than 30 minutes."
Failure to do so is not an option.
"By not mitigating, you are putting my life in danger," he said. He advocates communities such as our own, becoming Firewise. And creating your own personal evacuation plan with the help of information and tools like "Ready, Set, Go" with the aim of saving lives and property through advanced planning.
"Firewise Communities is a national program that helps communities take action to reduce their risk before a wildfire starts. As fire departments are challenged to do more to respond to such issues as global terrorism, hazardous materials threats, and wildland fires, residents and volunteers can help them reach their safety goals while allowing the first responders to train for and respond to emergencies," says material form National Fire Protection Association's Firewise Communities.
Here on the Front Range, we are particularly susceptible.  
"Fire is, and always has been, a natural part of the beautiful area where we have chosen to live," notes Ready, Set, Go! "Wildfires, fueled by build-up of dry vegetation and driven by hot, dry winds, are extremely dangerous and almost impossible to control.  Many residents have built their homes and landscaped without fully understanding the impact a fire could have on them."
"We have 90 miles of fuel here. We need to get ahead of the curve, after 120 years of fuel preservation," Vincent said, and mitigation extremely important. "None of us have seen natural forests."
"Become part of the solution by developing strategies and becoming Firewise Communities," he said.
Citizen participation is increasingly important in making our nation and communities safer, stronger, and better prepared to respond to emergencies of all kinds, says info from Firewise Communitites.
"Residents and volunteers in communities at risk from wildfire have a unique opportunity to create Fire Wise Communities."
Vincent says he, and other organizations such as Firewise Communities, local departments, home owners associations, all should be able to help develop plans.
"That's why the most important person protecting your life and property is you. With advance planning and preparation, you can dramatically increase your safety and survivability of your property."

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