One of the things I enjoy most working with a program like Firewise USA™ is the opportunity to visit communities and see firsthand the actions they are taking to prepare and protect their homes from wildfire. In late September, the community of Nassau Oaks near Callahan, FL, kindly welcomed me as I attended their annual Wildfire Community Preparedness Day event.
An active Firewise USA™ participant since 2008, this year has proved challenging for them to meet the annual recognition program requirements. Their Preparedness Day event was delayed once due to spring wildfires and narrowly escaped being cancelled by Hurricane Irma. In spite of all that, residents, volunteer fire fighters, Florida Forest Service staff, and a local tree service gathered on a Saturday morning with positive attitudes to see what they could accomplish. They spent hours cutting up downed trees, feeding the chipper, hacking down vegetation, and removing debris left by the hurricane.
My favorite part of the day was when Scout Troop #364 from nearby Baldwin, FL, arrived to assist one homeowner’s property. The resident has been a strong supporter of Firewise in Nassau Oaks but due to recent health concerns was unable to safely take action on his own property. Under his direction, the scouts gathered limbs, raked leaves and relocated debris to the side of the road where it would be picked up later by the county. These young men were polite and hardworking, exemplifying service to others.
I owe a big thank you to the masterminds of the event, Annaleasa Winter with the Florida Forest Service and Craig Herr, the resident leader for Nassau Oaks and volunteer fire chief, for allowing me to be a part of the day. I applaud them, the community, and Florida Forest Service for their commitment to reducing wildfire risks and their dedicated support of Firewise.
Photo credit: NFPA