Kingfisher County was named Firewise County of the Year at an awards ceremony May 10 in Norman. The county was honored for being first in the state to have each of its communities recognized by the Firewise Communities/USA program. 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.
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 the number of Firewise Communities.
Kingfisher County’s achievement is the result of the dedicated efforts of Cecil Michael and Vicki Eggers at the Northern Oklahoma Development Authority (NODA) and community leaders in Kingfisher, Loyal, Omega, Big 4, Okarche, Cashion, Dover and Hennessey.
Many problems, like rural fire defense, require cooperation among several units of government. Oklahoma Forestry Service’s Rural Fire Defense Program provides technical assistance and equipment placement services to new or established rural fire departments throughout the sub-state planning district.
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.
||Representatives of the Northern Oklahoma Development Authority and Kingfisher County community leaders accept Firewise Communities placards from OFS Firewise Coordinator Kelly Hurt (standing at far left), State Forester George Geissler (standing second from right) and Paul Jackson of American Farmers and Ranchers (standing at far right).
Tue, May 15, 2012