Firewise Communities Take Safety Seriously


Twenty communities were recognized May 10 at the 2nd Annual “Firewise at the Crossroads” Conference in Norman. Representatives from the following communities received 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.

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.

Oklahoma Forestry Services, a division of the Oklahoma Department of Agriculture, Food and Forestry, coordinates the program in Oklahoma and was recently notified by the Firewise Communities/USA Program that Oklahoma is now in the “Top 10” nationwide for its number of Firewise Communities.

Oklahoma communities are realizing the importance of the 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.

Bo McIlvoy was honored as the Firewise Facilitator of the Year for helping ten communities achieve Firewise certification. McIlvoy was an early advocate of the Firewise program in Oklahoma completing some of the first Firewise plans attempted in the state. He has worked diligently to promote the program through the Southern Oklahoma Development Association headquartered in Durant serving a ten-county region.

Kingfisher County was named the Firewise County of the Year. This is the first county in the state to have each of its communities join the Firewise program. This achievement is the result of the dedicated efforts of Cecil Michael and Vicki Eggers of the Northern Oklahoma Development Authority in Enid and community leaders in Kingfisher, Loyal, Omega, Big 4, Okarche, Cashion, Dover and Hennessey.

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