The death of 19 firefighters in Arizona was felt all across the firefighting community. As the Arkansas Forestry Commission and Arkansas Firewise mourned the loss of their brothers, they worked to make sure that the tragedy was not repeated.
“It prompted us to review our safety training," said Kevin Kilcrease, Arkansas Firewise Coordinator, “ This training is done yearly in all of our eight fire districts. In light of the tragedy, we upped the day we did training and review.”
This training is provided to all firefighters in the Arkansas Forestry Commission. It includes a review of fire safety standards, situations and a review of how and when to use a fire shelter and practical application of practice getting in a fire shelter.
In addition, Arkansas Firewise personnel included theFirewise safety message in both regular mail and email messages. Arkansas Firewise sends mailings to its active and past Firewise communities and to interested individuals several times a year.
“We prompted our fire departments to stress safety and a lean, clean, and green space around homes,” Kilcrease said. “Fire safety is always important and having a Firewise home will make the firefighter’s job safer,” he added.
Arkansas Firewise also discussed safety techniques with local media. When media called to ask about how Arkansas Forestry Commission was handling the tragedy, the state's Firewise team used this opportunity to discuss the need for fire safety both for fire departments and for individual homeowners.
These principles are important all the time, but such a tragedy brings home the need for each individual to take responsibility to make firefighter’s job safer. Firewise is an excellent tool for firefighter safety. Mowing, watering, and trimming are ways we can all contribute to that safety.