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Woodland Hills Begins on Wildfire plan

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  • Woodland Hills Begins on Wildfire plan

    Woodland Hills begins wildfire planning
    StoryDiscussionImage (2)Woodland Hills begins wildfire planning
    Lana Creer-Harris - Daily Herald Daily Herald

    Homes tucked into the trees in Woodland Hills {ur1}. The city fire department is encouraging residents to cut trees back from their homes to provide a defensible space in the event of a fire and to allow for better emergency access. JASON OLSON/Daily Herald .
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    Related: Utah Department of Natural Resources
    The lesson of Herriman's fire was not lost on Woodland Hills Fire Chief Val Wilding, and he is working with residents to develop a wildfire prevention plan.

    The city is arranged up a mountainside with several homes being on a heavily wooded bench. Homes with wood siding, shingles and decks are closely surrounded by Pinyon, Juniper and Gambel Oak, creating what wildland firefighters label indefensible space.

    "We'd like people to know we're making this a safer place," Wilding said.

    Wilding teamed up with Tyre Holfeltz, Utah's Wildland Urban Interface Prevention Coordinator. Holfeltz and Wilding began by training Woodland Hills fire department how to talk to homeowners about "defensible space" and other fire-savvy concepts.

    Next, they have planned a series of community meetings to address the issue. Woodland Hills residents recently attended the first of five community fire plan meetings, where they filled out information sheets to help guide Wilding's planning.

    At the next meeting, Jan. 20 at 7 p.m., they will continue the process. Citizens will have access to education material for homeowners and will define things they as a community want to accomplish to mitigate the danger. They will also make preparations for natural disasters other than fire.

    Woodland Hills has been working with DNR since 2002, Holfeltz said.

    "We are delivering, to these folks, information that things on their property will ultimately affect their homes," he said.

    Residents and city workers will first clean out the "dead, down and dying," a fire management term for trees that are prime wildfire fuel. Property owners who have allowed such fuel to accumulate near their homes will receive information on creating "defensible space" where fire is not apt to spread from wildland to house.

    According to the DNR, more than 400 communities in Utah are classified as "at risk" from wildfire. Fire protection in rural areas is not the same discipline as fire protection in urban areas. Rural fire departments like Woodland Hills's learn wildland fire fighting techniques and attacks as well as structural urban skills
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  • #2
    More Utah fire departments should be taking advantage of this sort of thing. Pro-active wildland urban interface assessments seem to be the exception rather than the rule, IMO.
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