Durant Man Named Firewise Facilitator of the Year

Bo McIlvoy, of the Southern Oklahoma Development Association (SODA) in Durant, was named Firewise Facilitator of the Year on May 10 at a statewide conference in Norman. The national Firewise Communities/USA program is a multi-agency effort designed to reach beyond the fire service by involving homeowners, community leaders, planners, developers and others in the effort to protect people, property and natural resources from the risk of wildland fire before a fire starts.

OFS Firewise Coordinator Kelly Hurt, Bo McIlvoy of SODA, Oklahoma State Forester George Geissler, and Paul Jackson of American Farmers and Ranchers congratulate McIlvoy as Firewise Facilitator of the Year.

In Oklahoma, the program is coordinated by Oklahoma Forestry Services (OFS), a division of the Oklahoma Department of Agriculture, Food and Forestry, which was recently notified that Oklahoma is now in the “Top 10” nationwide for its number of Firewise Communities.

McIlvoy was an early advocate of the Firewise program in Oklahoma completing some of the first Firewise plans attempted in the state. Since then he has helped ten communities become certified as Firewise and continues trying to bring more communities into the program as part of SODA’s fire defense plan. The ten counties in its service area are: Atoka, Bryan, Carter, Coal, Garvin, Johnston, Love, Marshall, Murray and Pontotoc.

Oklahoma communities are realizing the importance of the Firewise program as the number of wildfires, especially those impacting populated areas, has reached historic levels over the past few years. When a wildfire occurs, it can quickly expose dozens, sometimes hundreds, of homes to fire simultaneously. In many situations, firefighters do not have the resources to defend every home. Homeowners who take proactive steps to reduce the likelihood of their home igniting during a wildfire stand a far greater chance of having their homes survive.

Twenty communities were recognized at the 2nd Annual “Firewise at the Crossroads” Conference in Norman.Representatives of the following communities were presented with placards designating them as Firewise Communities: Antlers, Blair, Canute, Cashion, Clinton, Colbert, Daisy, Dillard, Dover, Falconhead, Harmony, Hennessey, Hitchcock, Hochatown, Hollis, Iowa Tribe, Kingfisher, Mangum, Roberta and Willis-Powell.

To learn more about how your community can become Firewise, visit www.forestry.ok.gov/firewise or call 405-522-6158.