Recently, I had the privilege of attending a statewide Firewise Communities/USA meeting in Tennessee where several communities were recognized for their multi-year efforts and participation in the program. Meeting residents committed to reducing their wildfire risk and hearing their success stories is always a high point of any week; and the folks I met in TN were definitely some of the most committed I’ve had the honor of meeting. This was a very dedicated group immersed in making their communities safer in future wildfires.
Communities receiving recognition included: Cumberland Lakes (Monterey, TN) for their 10-year participation in the Firewise program; and both Cobbly Knob (Pittman Center, TN) and Shagbark (Sevierville, TN) for their five-years of participation. All three communities have added innovative and important components into their long list of significant accomplishments. In addition to the benchmark recognition for the three communities, Bob Swisher from the Norris Shore Firewise community in Sharps Chapel received a plaque for his eight-years of tireless service as their Firewise chairperson. His accomplishments include the mentoring of two neighboring communities which led them to also becoming nationally recognized sites. As part of closing this chapter of his volunteer work, Bob has been busily training his successor to ensure the community's work continues when he vacates his role in the coming months.
Along with the three communities receiving recognition the TN State Firewise Liaison, Leon Konz, received a ten-year award presented by John Kirksey, the Fire Unit Leader for the TN Dept of Agriculture – Division of Forestry.
Other attendees included residents from eleven additional communities; firefighters; the community risk reduction educator from the state fire marshal’s office and many district forestry personnel from the TN Division of Forestry. Congratulations to all!