Fire season is fast approaching. Although the winter and spring are on track to receive added moisture as compared to the past few years it in no way means we can let our guard down. In fact, Prescott Fire Chief Dennis Light pointed out to me that, historically some of the biggest campaign fires that have occurred in Arizona come immediately following a wet season.
The purpose of my letter this month is to review the resources available to us to prevent and fight wildland fires, and what you can do to protect your property.
One of our key partner’s in managing wildfire suppression, is the Prescott National Forest which manages the public lands surrounding our city. In addition to the Bradshaw Ranger District fire personnel, the Prescott National Forest has the Henry H. Kim Fire Center at the Prescott Regional Airport. This facility holds a large cache of supplies and an expert staff which are primarily responsible for all of Arizona, New Mexico, and part of west Texas. At peak season, the Fire Center can have as many as 60-70 professionals specializing as pilots, communications specialists, supply management teams, logistics experts, and fire fighters including the Prescott Interagency Hotshot Crew, established in 1973.
The Fire Center is capable of hosting a number of aircraft of various sizes, from helicopters to the large air tankers. This is an extremely well-equipped facility that hosts local, regional, and national suppression resources. The Fire Center and the Prescott National Forest are part of a large network of fire suppression resources that can be mobilized short and long distances to support communities and natural resources threatened by wildfire, and it is literally in our own back yard.
In an effort to mitigate wildfire hazards, prevent wildfires, and suppress unwanted wildfires, the City of Prescott and the Prescott Fire Department, also partner with Central Arizona Fire and Medical Authority, Arizona Department of Forestry and Fire Management, and the Bureau of Land Management. When the need arises, we call upon these local agencies, and sometimes those from around the southwest to provide for the suppression of fires in our wildland urban interface and other forested areas.
An important part of maintaining positive stewardship of our wildland interface comes about as a result of this interagency cooperation. Twice annually, stakeholders assemble to review the various area fuel reductions projects being pursued thus ensuring that one agency’s work complements or enhances the other agencies work.
Citizens are important and vital partners in prevention and protection. It is important to keep your property clear of debris, to maintain a defensible space around your home, and to plant shrubs and trees away from your home. Help our firefighters do their jobs and help yourself by actively managing the defensible space around your property and homes. Prescott Area Wildland Interface Commission (PAWUIC) is a great educational resource to help citizens manage the risk of fire damage to their property. To learn more, go to yavapaifirewise.org
In closing, I want readers to feel as confident as I do in Prescott’s capacity to reduce risk and fight wildland fires. The facilities, the agencies, and particularly the people involved in keeping our city safe are simply the best.
Mayor Greg Mengarelli