SHOW LOW — “Don’t let the recent moisture fool you! This wildfire season has the potential for significant fire and loss.” Fire Chief Bryan Savage said at a recent meeting of the Timber Mesa Fire and Medical District Board.
This wildfire season is shaping up to be as dangerous as previous years including 2016 when the area was impacted by the Cedar Fire, the 2011 Wallow Fire, or the 2002 Rodeo-Chediski Fire. Northeastern Arizona is in a period of prolonged drought, we received almost no moisture last year during what should have been the seasonal monsoon, and this winter has been exceptionally dry as well. “Already, in between these recent small storms, we have experienced roadside fires and one fire in the Porter Mountain area that jumped the highway” Savage said. The National Weather Service is predicting even warmer and dryer conditions as we move into Spring.
Timber Mesa Fire has been busy throughout the winter and early spring, preparing for wildfire season. This process begins with firefighter medical physicals required before firefighters can be recertified. Maintenance is performed on all firefighting gear and apparatus to prepare for wildland fires in and out of the District. Firefighters attend required training for recertification in wildland firefighting, and finally they are tested physically in what is known as the red card walk (work capacity test); a three-mile timed test while carrying 45 pounds.
Timber Mesa is not just concerned with putting out fires when they occur, however. The Fire District also conducts a residential wildfire risk reduction program called Red-Tag/Green-Tag. This program includes fire personnel going door to door in selected neighborhoods, to evaluate properties and determine whether the property is defensible during a fast-moving fire. Residents receive a door hanger, either red or green depending on the risk level, with helpful information on how they can make their property safer from the risk of wildfire.
“Now is the time” Chief Savage said, “to prepare your property for fire season and to prepare your family to evacuate if it becomes necessary.”
He then continued, “we are getting ready for fire season, but we can only do so much. We need our community to do their part as well; make your property as safe as possible and make a plan for your family to evacuate if necessary.”
There are several resources available regarding fire safety in the White Mountains. Visit the Timber Mesa website at timbermesafire.org or contact Timber Mesa at (928) 537-5100 to request and schedule a Red-Tag/Green-Tag evaluation. Additionally, visit the International Fire Chiefs Association website at iafc.org and follow the links to the Ready, Set, Go program for helpful hints to prepare for evacuation.