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Governor Prepares Arizona Communities for Fire Season

Location: Phoenix, AZ


Public-private cooperation to help Arizonans to prevent fire

Governor Janet Napolitano has announced a collaboration between government agencies, conservation groups and private companies to help protect Arizona communities from wildfires.

The cooperative effort is the result of the work of the Governor's Forest Health Councils and was established with the support of Arizona Public Service and State Farm Insurance.

"With this project, we will be able to provide residents with critical information they need to protect their homes from wildfire," said Napolitano. "Although we've had significant rain over the last few months, there is still a serious threat of wildfires throughout the state this summer and I urge Arizonans to protect their property."

In the past three years, hundreds of thousands of acres were burned and many homes were destroyed or damaged by wildfires in Arizona. Owners can prepare their property and protect their homes from fire by following the seven steps
of the nationally recognized FIREWISE program:

1. 1. Create defensible space around your house by removing vegetation and debris.
2. Cut down trees to create open space.
3. 3. Remove tall, dry grasses from the surrounding property.
4. 4. Remove leaves and pine needles from your roof and gutters.
5. 5. Remove "ladder fuels." ("Ladder fuels" are vegetation at different heights, starting
on the ground like grasses, and then involving taller plants like shrubs. They create a
"ladder" to the tree tops or to roof tops)
6. 6. Check gas-powered equipment and garden hoses to be sure they are in good repair.
7. 7. Prune bushes and shrubs regularly.

"These actions do not guarantee that a home will survive a wildfire, but following the seven steps and creating defensible space around the home will improve the odds," explained Kirk Rowdabaugh, state forester with the Arizona State Land Department and member of the Governor's Forest Health Oversight Council. "We've seen clear evidence of what defensible
space can do, allowing firefighters the time they need to protect homes and the surrounding area from advancing wildfires."
In 2004, the Governor's Forest Health Oversight Council and APS distributed brochures to property owners in at-risk communities throughout the state. This year, State Farm Insurancejoined the team to sponsor an information and loss mitigation program targeting several Arizona communities.

Throughout the months of April and May, volunteers from the organizations will go door-to-door in selected at-risk communities to distribute FIREWISE materials and assist some residents in defending their property.

These communities are:
• Groom Creek - Saturday, April 23
• Arivaca - Saturday, April 30
• Black Canyon City - Saturday, May 7
• Yuma - Saturday, May 14

The volunteers and local firefighters will identify residents in each community who are unable to clean up their properties. Volunteers will return within several weeks to help them make their properties wildfire defensible. Individuals interested in volunteering to distribute brochures or clean up selected properties should call Kent Bushman, Arizona Public Service, at (928) 773-6458.

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