I'd like to allow our southern region Firewise Advisor, Patrick Mahoney, to speak to the tragic deaths on Sunday (June 2011) of two Florida Division of Forestry firefighters. According to a CNN report, Josh Burch, age 31, and Brett Fulton, age 52, lost their lives while fighting the "Blue Ribbon Fire" in Hamilton County in north-central Florida. Patrick is a fellow Florida Division of Forestry firefighter and wildfire mitigation specialist. Here is what he sent to Firewise community members in his area of Florida yesterday:
Yesterday the close-knit fire world lost two of their very own. The ripple of loss is felt from State Firefighters, Local County Firefighters and Cooperators and passed on to the communities that we all try to protect. Firefighters need your help in protecting your home, community and lives. Please help us by:
(A) Lean - Trim vegetation away from home.
(B) Clean - No accumulation of dead vegetation or flammable debris.
(C) Green - Less flammable plants that are healthy, watered and green during dry season.
(2) Supporting your State, County and City's Wildfire Mitigation Efforts
Everyone who owns land should be managing it for wildfires. The natural areas grow wild, the ground is littered with pine needles, dead leaves, sticks and twigs. The natural area accumulates dead vegetation for years, which is then ripe for a wildfire. Please support burning, mowing and chopping in these natural areas. This wildfire mitigation is essential to the health of the ecosystem. If the ground is littered with dead vegetation then sunlight will not reach the forest floor. The foraging animals must look for new places to feed due to lack of new growth.
We can all do our part and play a role to make our homes and communities safer, and even to save lives. The Firewise program and our national Firewise family joins with Florida in mourning the loss of these wildland firefighters.