Four years ago, in May 2011, Ashland, Oregon’s inaugural Firewise Communities/USA participant was welcomed into the national program. Later that year, six more communities also completed the program's criteria and since then the City of Ashland has consistently continued to develop new participants. Thus far in 2015, five more communities have received their official national recognition bringing the total number of active communities to twenty-three; all proud to say they're working diligently to reduce their wildfire risk.
Recently, the seven newest communities attended a recognition event at Ashland Fire & Rescue’s Station 2, where the fire department hosted twenty-five guests that included representatives from the new communities and some that have been with the program for multiple years. The event concluded with an acknowledgement and thank you to Ashley Lara, the Firewise Program Coordinator that was moving on to a new role at Jackson County Fire District 3.
As a result of the Firewise program, widespread hazardous vegetation (Italian Cypress, Leyland, blackberry and juniper) has been removed throughout communities and homeowners are taking steps to harden their homes and make them less vulnerable during a wildfire.
Ashland Fire & Rescue has been extremely successfully at getting the communities they serve to participate in wildfire risk reduction activities. They currently have the third highest number of recognized Firewise Communities in a single city - a major accomplishment considering there are more than 1,170 sites throughout the nation.