Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Payson, Arizona Town Council Redeems Its Responsibility for Risk Reduction

Before (top) and after (bottom) Firewise clean up. Photo: Payson Fire Department. 

"All who have a stake in the outcome, from individual property owners to the federal, state, Tribal and local governments, must share the costs and level of effort necessary to redeem responsibilities for reducing risks posed by wildfire," reads the National Cohesive Wildland Fire Strategy (page 57).   

The Town Council in Payson, Arizona is redeeming its responsibility for risk reduction in a move to protect the town from the negative impacts of wildfire. The Council unanimously voted to move forward with adopting a Wildland-Urban Interface (WUI) code, which will impact both new construction and landscaping of existing homes.   

Three years earlier, the culture of the former Council did not support regulatory options as a proactive approach to dealing with the wildfire readiness of their community.  The culture in Payson is changing however with many individuals engaging in Firewise activities to address the well-known risks of wildfire in Rim County - dry forests, dead fuels, hot summers and the 2nd highest frequency of lightning strikes in the US. 

Payson's Fire Chief David Staub thinks entire neighborhoods are losing out based on the inaction of a few. Neighbors who choose not to reduce hazardous fuels on their property create threats to firefighter safety, which in turn, leads to fire department decisions to skip those streets in favor of more defensible neighborhoods.  "Everyone else on that road is impacted by the choice of some folks," says Chief Staub. 

It's these realities that have led the Town Council to press for a WUI code. Lowering the risk of catastrophic loss from wildfire is not a simple, easy or quick task, but it is worth it. Stay tuned for updates!

Read more about what will be included in the proposed WUI code in the full article here

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