In June, 1990 the Dude Fire came very close to burning our family home.
We lost six firefighters then. This has stuck with me my entire adult life. We had to wait day by day to hear if our home was lost. We knew nothing about fuel reduction or Fire wise at that time. When I first was introduced to Fire wise it perked my interest. I became a Fire wise “nerd.”
If you don’t remember the Dude fire, here is a brief:
“Twenty-three years ago on a day of record heat across Arizona, afternoon clouds and thunderstorms darkened skies up north while the ground stayed tinderbox dry.
Those were the weather conditions in June 1990 when six firefighters, mostly member of an inmate firefighting crew, lost their lives battling the Dude Fire near Payson, Ariz.”
I received my Fire wise Assessor Certification in 2007. Watching the videos of the loss and destruction was enough for me to know that this could happen to our community! I was the first Chair for the first Town of Payson Fire wise Committee. In my previous career, I was the Community Manager for The Rim Golf Club for nearly fifteen years. I helped establish the Rim Golf Club Community to be a Fire wise Community. I assisted Chaparral Pines to prepare for their Fire wise Community Status.
Fire wise is fuel reduction program. It is not clear cutting. Education is the primary goal of the program! Educating the community about defensive space around their home and being proactive is the key. People seem to only get concerned when there is smoke in the air or we go several months without rain. Fire wise is good for the well being of our beautiful trees we all love.
Fuel reduction is the key. Removing the dead and clearing from out under the trees is a great start. We all have to be responsible for our own property. However, in this community not all can afford to clear and remove the debris. This is where resources have to be made available, and the Town can take a leading role in this effort. The Payson Fire Department and Fire Captain, Toby Waugh has worked very hard at writing and receiving grants for several Fire wise efforts in the town. A fire is devastating to a community and it impacts the largest investment most of have. For some the impact may be complete devastation, others will escape relatively unscathed. All will be impacted. Our community will suffer.
Fire wise is a rational way to reduce or eliminate the potential suffering.