Arkansas Governor Mike Beebe used his weekly column and radio address last week to highlight how Firewise continues to combat wildfires in the state. Arkansas is a leader in Firewise Community development and resident efforts around their neighborhoods. Governor Beebe praised the collaborative work of the Arkansas Forestry Commission in encouraging communities to join Firewise; the benefits of the CWPP process in Arkansas; and the positive role of fire departments in outreach and support.
We are very thankful for the ongoing efforts of Firewise Coordinator Kevin Kilcrease and Firewise Information Officer Sheila Doughty with the Arkansas Forestry Commission. Sheila shared with me that, “One of the thinks that makes Arkansas Firewise so strong is the power of community and that residents are working to help their fellow Arkansasns. We are very appreciative that Governor Beebe chose to recognize Arkansas Firewise twice this year [in his weekly column].” She went on to praise the work of county foresters and rangers who she explained are a huge help in talking with fire departments and getting communities involved.
In the weekly column, Governor Beebe also highlighted the Firewise Community of Norphlet, AR, and their national recognition in the 2013 “Firewise Challenge” for mitigation efforts. I spoke with Norphlet Fire Chief Wesley Harper, who serves as the Firewise Community contact, and he shared that there is a good understanding of the role of mitigation year round in their community and a strong community focus for the efforts of residents.
In Norphlet, the fire department assists with mitigation removal and preparedness advocacy. Chief Harper added that, “The more the public can see a fire truck, the better they feel about their fire department.”
We thank Governor Mike Beebe, the Arkansas Forestry Commission, and Arkansas’ 131 current Firewise Communities for their continued support to wildfire preparedness and community engagement.