Texas A&M Forest Service urges citizens to prepare their communities for wildfire season.
While Texans are doing things differently this spring and summer, the threat of wildfire is constant. Texas A&M Forest Service encourages Texans to take part in the National Fire Protection Association’s (NFPA) Wildfire Community Preparedness Day on May 2. By taking a proactive approach to wildfire prevention, homeowners can significantly increase their safety and their home’s likelihood of survival during a catastrophic event.
They illustrated during the still-smoldering Holcombe Road Fire, a wildfire in Crockett and Val Verde Counties, which started on April 19 and is currently at 25,958 acres.
Rich Gray, Operations Section Chief on the wildfire and Texas A&M Forest Service’s Chief Regional Fire Coordinator, stated that they saved several structures. That was because of the mitigation work and defensible space the property owners created, providing the firefighters a safer area to work.
“The actions you take to reduce the risk on your property before a fire occurs can make all the difference,” said Gray. “When a 20,000 plus acre wildfire is raging toward your home, you may feel powerless. But you are not. If you prepare your home now, before smoke is ever in the air, you can help increase its survivability.”
Texas A&M Forest Service works directly with communities across Texas, identifying the communities most vulnerable to wildfires, and helps create Community Wildfire Preparedness Plans.
“This year, our NFPA’s Wildfire Community Preparedness Day celebrations look a little different,” said Texas A&M Forest Service Firewise Coordinator Kari Hines. “But the good news is that we know the biggest changes we can make to protect our neighborhoods are usually directly around our own homes.”
Adapting to the COVID-19 guidelines, the agency turned to social media to help Texans ready their communities for the upcoming wildfire season, posting live videos of employees walking around their homes and demonstrating how to create defensible space.
“With the increase in wildfire activity and warmer weather on the way, now is the perfect time to prepare your home,” said Hines.
“These are easy steps that anyone can take around their homes, while at home, to decrease the chance that a wildfire may start, and if it does, to decrease the risk from that fire to your home and family.”
Texas A&M Forest Service created a Wildfire Home Preparation Checklist to help guide Texans at home. Participants that complete the checklist on or before May 2 will receive a prize. Complete the list at bit.ly/3avN510.
“By protecting your home, you help protect your community and create a safer space for your first responders to work,” said Gray.
Over the last month, a fifth of Texas A&M Forest Service personnel responded to the Holcombe Road Fire in West Texas. While in East Texas, Texas A&M Forest Service responded to tornadoes in Polk and Newton Counties. In Central Texas, agency personnel worked around the clock alongside the Texas Division of Emergency Management to prepare and ship personal protective equipment (PPE) and other COVID-19-related items to first responders on the front lines.
“Even amid a pandemic, natural disasters will continue to happen,” said Gray. “We’re tasked by the State of Texas to respond to them. One way citizens can help our first responders is by preparing their property and keeping wildfires from ever starting.”
For more information about protecting your home, visit tfsweb.tamu.edu/ProtectYourHome/.
Follow Texas A&M Forest Service on Facebook for more mitigation and prevention information at bit.ly/2dARmpR.