If you haven’t yet had a chance to review the Spring Firewise How To Newsletter, you’ll want to check out the great piece on Ashland, Oregon, on page two. The story documents a wonderful example of a municipal fire department going the extra mile to get neighborhoods involved in their own wildland fire safety.
Ashland has a long history of wildland fire and has worked for years to address risks in its wildland/urban interface – primarily homes on the perimeter of public forested areas. But the Oak Knoll Fire of 2010, destroying 11 homes in a neighborhood in the heart of the city, shocked residents and fire professionals alike.
Under the leadership of Fire Chief John Karns and Firewise Communities Coordinator Ali True, the city took this “lemon” of a fire experience and made some delicious lemonade out of it. In just over a year, the city has assisted a dozen neighborhoods in achieving Firewise Communities/USA recognition. The process involves education directly to residents and requires them to come together to address their own wildfire safety concerns.
Ms. True has used her wildland fire knowledge, especially regarding Firewise landscaping, to educate homeowners. The city has set up an Ashland Firewise Communities website and uses a wide array of communications techniques, including a strong emphasis on social media, to get the word out that wildfire can damage homes in ANY neighborhood in Ashland, but there IS something residents can do to be safer.