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Tuesday, May 3, 2016

City now 'firewise'

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Mammoth Spring has added Firewise USA city along with its distinction as a fourth-year Tree City USA.

"Forestry came to see me (about Firewise), and I said, 'Oh, that sounds great,'" Mayor Pace said.

According to Mammoth Spring Mayor Jean Pace, the program is an effort to try to set up a defensible perimeter around the city limits to protect city trees and residents' homes against wildfires.

"What this program is going to involve is our firemen have adopted this plan, and they will go around to all the houses that are at the edge of the city limits. They will make an assesment of what is around the house that could be a potential fire (hazard)," Mayor Pace said. "If it (a wild fire) got on their property and damaged their house, it could blow along over to the rest of the town."

Mayor Pace said this program might extend beyond city limits and may go as far as 25 miles out of town because the Mammoth Spring Volunteer Fire Department responds to fires that are out of town.

Firefighters will be trained to make fire risk assesment on houses and property and will alert residents of any serious problems which may start or fuel a fire and possibly lead to a wildfire. Mayor Pace said any of the firefighters' recommendations on how to fix property is not mandatory. "There's nothing that says the homeowner has to (fix their property). It's just to make them aware that this is how to protect (their) property more," Mayor Pace said.

"One of the good things about this (Arkansas Firewise) is that there is some grant money available for the fire department," Mayor Pace said.

She said through the program, the city has to spend a minimum of $2 per resident, but volunteer service will count towards that fee. "It's the same thing we work with (for the) Tree City USA thing. We have to spend $2 per resident, so that means we spend $2,180 a year. But, every time the tree board meets that's (considered) volunteer time, $17.41 an hour for their time," the mayor said. She said the Firewise program will work the same way for any time the firefighters are out making assessments.

"It's a way to protect our town, for one thing, because these fires get out around these houses that have a lot of debris around them and leaves bunched up against them," Mayor Pace said.

Firefighters will hand out leaflets of information about how to keep property safe from fire. It is recommended that at least a 30-foot perimeter be set around the house. Other information tells homeowners about how to create landscaping that is not as flammable.

Arkansas Firewise is a program sponsored by the Arkansas Forestry Commission, not only to protect residential homes from fire, but to protect forests and wildlife in the state.

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