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"Firewise Communities" could help Fire Departments receive grants

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  • "Firewise Communities" could help Fire Departments receive grants

    Firewise Community designation may open door for firefighting grants.

    By:Marcia Miller, Telegraph Staff Writer June 05, 2003

    Lakewood Improvement Association, an organization which oversees the Lakewood Subdivision on the western edge of Starke, recently decided to seek designation as the first Firewise Community in northeast Florida.

    Firewise Communities/USA is a national program whose goal is to encourage activities that minimize the loss of homes to wildfire. There are only two Firewise Communities in the state of Florida, one located in Orange County and one in Ormond Beach.

    There are a number of hoops through which Lakewood will have to jump in order to achieve a Firewise designation - but if that designation can be achieved, then the way will be open for the city of Starke, the county or even the Division of Forestry to apply for state and federal grants that will improve fire service to the Lakewood area.

    For example, said DOF Ranger Mike Work, Lakewood could ask DOF for services like controlled burning or plowing of forested lands adjacent to the homes in the subdivision to reduce the risk of wildfire damaging the homes. DOF could then complete a grant application and would likely get funding to furnish those services to Lakewood for free (even if the area does not qualify for a free mitigation burn-see related story).

    Grants might even be secured to fund additional fire equipment to fire stations that serve Lakewood. Any equipment or service that reduces the risk of fire to a Firewise Community might be eligible for state or federal grant funding, said Work.

    Lakewood has voted to apply for the Firewise status and has completed an assessment process aimed at identifying the fire hazards in the neighborhood. Arch Thomas, president of Lakewood Improvement Association, said recently that Lakewood's assessment showed its fire risk level as "very high."

    The assessment took into consideration things like:

    * How easy would access to the subdivision be for firetrucks and emergency vehicles? Dead-end roads and cul-de-sacs in the community would pose problems for large emergency vehicles.

    * How heavy is the underbrush on property adjacent to homes? There are some heavily forested areas with dense underbrush nearby.

    * Are there pressurized fire hydrants in the neighborhood? Lakewood does not have fire hydrants.

    * Are utility rights of way maintained properly? Rights of way are overgrown.

    * Etc.

    Firewise Communities/USA will also send an inspector to Lakewood who specializes in assessing the fire danger to areas where homes and forest or wildlands are adjacent to one another.

    The Lakewood Improvement Association will now form a Firewise Board to recommend improvements to the community that will reduce the risk of property loss to fire. A Firewise Committee will oversee those improvements and maintain the Firewise program.

    Some of the improvements will be done through private funding by landowners, but some could also be completed through securing special grant funds.

    Thomas said he is excited about the decision of the association to seek Firewise status. A large muck fire that burned for several months near the Lakewood Subdivision last year had property owners there concerned about the safety of their homes. "The successful implementation of the Firewise Communities/USA program will truly be a credit to everyone involved," said Thomas.

    For more information on Firewise Communities, see the Web site at www.firewise.org/usa or contact DOF at 386-496-3311.
    09-11 .. 343 "All Gave Some..Some Gave ALL" God Bless..R.I.P.
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    The comments, opinions, and positions expressed here are mine. They are expressed respectfully, in the spirit of safety and progress. They do not reflect the opinions or positions of my employer or my department.

  • #2
    Kentucky Firewise First

    First Kentucky community recognized
    Last Updated on 9/21/2005

    FRANKFORT, KY. -- Press release from the Division of Forestry.

    News from the Environmental Division of Forestry
    and Public Protection Cabinet Frankfort, KY 40601
    LaJuana S. Wilcher, Secretary

    FRANKFORT, Ky. (Sept. 21, 2005) – The Knifley Area Volunteer Fire Department, which serves the communities of Knifley, Pellyton and Roley in Adair County, is the first in Kentucky to receive Firewise Communities/USA recognition.

    The area is among 115 communities nationwide to receive the special designation. Firewise is a national program created to reduce wildfire risks and hazards where urban development meets wild lands.

    Leah MacSwords, director of the Kentucky Division of Forestry, presented the award in a ceremony at the fire department on Sept. 20.

    “We are very proud to present this distinguished recognition to the Knifley Area Volunteer Fire Department. It exemplifies what communities can do if they work together to reach a goal. Their efforts have reduced the risk of wildfires and have made their community a safer place to live,” MacSwords said.

    To receive Firewise Communities/USA recognition, the local communities had to satisfy some rigorous requirements. With the fire department spearheading the effort, a local Firewise task force was established. The service area was assessed for wildfire hazards and an emergency action plan was developed. Prevention programs were presented. An information breakfast was held to educate citizens about wildfire dangers.

    The Firewise Communities/USA recognition program is part of the national Firewise Communities Program, which encourages local solutions for wildfire safety by involving homeowners, community leaders, planners, developers, firefighters and others in the effort to protect people and property from the risk of wildfire.

    For information, visit www.firewise.org or contact the Kentucky
    Division of Forestry, 502-564-4496.
    Last edited by coldfront; 11-16-2005, 10:51 PM.
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