Firewise USA™ welcomes Ashley Blakely, Public Information Officer and Fire & Life Safety Specialist, Jackson Country Fire District 3, White City, Oregon, as our guest blogger. Below is her account of Southern Oregon’s first Firewise Expo held in May. Ashley asked NFPA if she could share the success of the event and its activities with other community residents living in high-risk wildfire areas.
In May, fire agencies and emergency managers from Jackson and Josephine counties hosted the first ever Southern Oregon Firewise Expo held in White City at Fire District 3 regional training grounds. Over the two-day period, close to 1,100 community members visited the Expo to take part in hands-on learning that focused on burn pile safety and construction, poor vs. proper planning in the home ignition zone, and tips for how to identify fire-resistant and fire-prone plants within their landscape.
Fire personnel from multiple local agencies facilitated several interactive demonstrations that highlighted how the community and their families could better prepare themselves and their home for fire season.
"The live fire demonstrations were especially impactful for landowners to experience. Southern Oregon is highly susceptible to wildfire and some of the more common fire-prone plants such as juniper, cypress and arborvitae, are commonly placed near the home. We wanted to show how vulnerable these types of plants could be to a home in the event of a wildfire," said Ashley Lara, Fire District 3 Fire & Life Safety Specialist and National Fire Adapted Communities Network Member.
There were also plenty of other demonstrations that fire crews helped with, including proper chipping techniques and how to make an emergency preparedness kit. For those who were interested in fire science, there was a discussion around the science behind Firewise landscaping [limiting the amount of flammable vegetation and materials surrounding the home and increasing the moisture content of remaining vegetation]. There was also a restoration area where natural resource managers, restoration experts, local nurseries and fire officials provided education on how to make “Firewise” choices for their home and landscape.
"Living in the Rogue Valley, being Firewise is not just a choice, but a way of life. Citizens must adopt fire safe practices around their home and neighborhoods to better protect our communities from the impacts of wildfire," said Alison Lerch, Ashland Fire and Rescue Fire Adapted Communities Coordinator and National Fire Adapted Communities Network Member.
The event was a great success and will be brought back to the National Fire Adapted Communities Network meeting in 2018 for others to share with their own communities. A number of PSAs, brochures and web material are currently being created to educate the community about Firewise USA™ and preparedness practices. Stay tuned for more to come!
Interested in learning about the Firewise USA program, and ways you and your community can reduce the risk of damage from a wildfire? Visit us at www.Firewise.org.
Photo: A demonstration at the Southern Oregon Firewise Expo.