Jerome gets help reducing fire risks
Deemed as having greatest need in county, awarded $25,000
JEROME - Having been deemed the community with the most urgent need for reducing fuel loads, the Jerome Fire Department was presented with the first half of a $25,000 Firewise Community Program grant at the Dec. 21 Yavapai County Board of Supervisor's meeting.
With Jerome's jagged topography, tight home placement, obstructed vehicle access, brush-filled washes and invasive paradise trees, Jerome Fire Chief Rusty Blair says his firefighters have their work cut-out for them.
"We've had these paradise trees inundate the area. They die and cause a great hazard," said Blair.
On Nov. 10 at 11 a.m., a tree fell on a car during high winds, according to the Fire Chief's Report for Nov. 2015. Fall brush piles have been stacking-up, as well.
"People have been cutting them down and putting them into washes, creating huge fuel loads," he said.
The Town of Jerome was recommended for funding by Yavapai County's Emergency Services Manger Denny Foulk and Supervisor Jack Smith.
The funds are to be used in Wildland Urban Interface cleanup.
A local Firewise committee will be appointed to determine how the money would be best allocated.
"We'll come-up with application process where residents can ask for assistance. Once submitted, the board will review the application and prioritize according to the most significant hazards," Blair said.
Jerome residents are being asked to reduce the fire load of dead and dying trees, brush and grass on the roadway and within 200 feet of their structures.
"We can't enter private property without permission, but people have not trimmed back vegetation where it hangs over property," said Blair. "You have a fire exposure that's hand-to-hand, one house to another."
"By widening areas at the edge of their easement, people can help give us more defensible space," he added.
Meanwhile, the Town of Jerome has been doing its part by clearing unwanted vegetation from town properties and right-of-ways, beginning with the town waste water treatment facility.
Firewise encourages local solutions for safety by involving homeowners in taking individual responsibility for preparing their homes from the risk of wildfire.
The goal of Firewise's Fire Adapted Communities is to establish a collaborative approach that connects all those who play a role in wildfire education, planning and action with comprehensive resources to help reduce risk.
Firewise is administered through the National Fire Protection Association, a global, nonprofit organization devoted to eliminating personal, property and economic loss due to fire and related hazards.
The second half of the grant will be awarded during the next meeting of the board of supervisors.