Prepare. Protect. Preserve
Dedication of Dewey-Humboldt Reserve Tanks
On May 22, the Dewey-Humboldt community dedicated the four 8100 gallon water tanks located in the Upper Blue Hills where fire apparatus can be refilled. There are no hydrants in this area and ground water from private wells is limited. Without this refill capability water tenders would have to travel the single access road with a roundtrip time of nearly 40 minutes.
The project began in 2013 when a Blue Hills resident offered the Central Arizona Fire & Medical Authority (CAFMA) his 5-acre property as a donation. CAFMA funded the project for $250,000.
"Project Andrew" started when Jen Ashcraft called Arizona Department of Forestry and Fire Management, Prescott National Forest, NRCS, and others with wildfire concerns within the wildland urban interface and her community.
As the partners came together, a forest stewardship plan was developed to address the issues. As the project unfolded, it became clear that this is what PAWUIC(Prescott Area Wildland Urban Interface Commission), the Department of Forestry, the Forest Service, and NRCS has worked for in terms of coordination, collaboration and addressing our resource concerns for decades. In addition, APS and Dakota Logging were also instrumental in contributing to the work to make this project a reality.
It was decided to archive the project to celebrate what was being done and show the coordination among agencies and landowners. The video was created in the hope of inspiring others throughout Arizona, Yavapai County, and across the west to take action. It is incredibly daunting alone, but if the community works together and uses the resources around them, you can create forest resiliency and a safer place from which our firefighters can respond. This video encapsulates that idea.
Can you survive a wildfire?
PAWUIC’S motto “Living on the Edge,” has two meanings: living on the edge of Arizona’s wildlands with all of their attendant grace and beauty, but also living with the danger of wildfire.
PAWUIC, founded in 1990, is unique in the nation as a not-for-profit group chartered by the City of Prescott and Yavapai County. PAWUIC is comprised of federal, state, county and city agency representatives working together with volunteers, businesses, and community leaders. PAWUIC’s purpose is to mitigate the threat of wildfire and to promote forest health in the greater Prescott area, and Yavapai County- an area larger than the State of Massachusetts. Members from Prescott National Forest, Bureau of Land Management, Arizona State Forestry, Prescott Yavapai Tribe, Yavapai County Office of Emergency Management, Central Arizona Fire and Medical Authority, Prescott Fire Department, eleven other fire departments, homeowner associations and private citizens meet monthly to report and coordinate their activities to reduce the wildfire danger in the area.
PAWUIC works not just in fire season, but throughout the year to reduce the chance of a wildfire and to reduce the damage it would cause when it strikes our community. By cooperating together since 1990, PAWUIC has brought more than $6,000,000 into our community.
Information and education on how to reduce wildland fire danger by means of an annual EXPO, meetings, training, newspaper articles, helping local communities gain Firewise/USA® recognition,, and maintaining its regional information web site.
A source of grant funding for area fire department efforts to reduce fuels and mitigate other fire dangers.
Training scholarships for area firefighters at the Arizona Wildfire Academy.
Supporting efforts for economically and environmentally sound ways to utilize the biomass generated from fuels reduction and forest health projects.
A most important monthly forum for sharing ideas and coordinating efforts among the involved agencies. Time: 8:00 AM on the 1st Thurs. of each month in the Freeman Building at the Prescott Rodeo Grounds, 840 Rodeo Dr. The public is always welcome to attend. Becoming a volunteer is a rewarding experience.
The Yavapai County Sheriff’s Office now utilizes CodeRED® as its Emergency Notification System. With this service, they can send messages to residents and businesses within minutes with specific information when an emergency or time-sensitive issue arises. Sign up at http://www.ycsoaz.gov/community/Emergency-Preparedness/Emergency-Notification-System
This is National Preparedness Month and we are all reminded to take steps to be prepared for an emergency. But with all the hype do preparedness efforts really make a difference, you may be asking yourself.
Working with communities to implement project work with Wildfire Community Preparedness Day this last year, I connected with a Firewise USA® site leader Paulette Church in Durango, Colorado who was actively helping her community be better prepared for their greatest risk of loss from wildfire. Their community had been impacted by a wildfire in 2002, and it spurred them to be better prepared in case it happened again. That fire in 2002 consumed over 70,000 acres and 56 homes in the region.
Their community worked on a number of projects including a fuels reduction Prep Day project this year, and as Paulette shared with me they went from having a 10% initial involvement by residents in the community to almost 90%. Their community was again impacted by a wildfire this year but this time their efforts really made a difference. I went with a crew to film their story and was awestruck by how close the fire came to homes throughout their community. Paulette shared that they had made the work activities to increase their preparedness, fun to garner more engagement and support from the neighbors to participate in fuels reduction activities and it worked! They did not lose one home to the fire this time around due to their efforts which made it easier and safer for firefighters to do their jobs!
Even the Inciweb (incident report) mentioned; “In Division A, south of the fire, line construction continues, and firefighters have connected a line from 550 northwest into the rock face above Hermosa. Last night, the fire pushed into areas with structures. Crews engaged in active firefighting. No structures were damaged or lost, and no firefighters were injured. The work that the community has done to make this area “Firewise” contributed a great deal to firefighters’ ability to defend these homes. The Falls Creek and Lower Hermosa areas are set with hoses, pumps and sprinklers, and are prepared for the possibility of further active firefighting.”
The lesson learned from this incredible story of a community’s survival is that good preparedness efforts completed with neighbors working together with local agency partners can make a difference. What will your story be? Learn more about how you can better prepare your home and neighborhood for wildfire, visit Firewise USA® today!