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And the Golden Sparky goes to ...

Ashland Fire and Rescue’s Alison Lerch received the Golden Sparky award from the Oregon State Fire Marshals Association last week for her achievements in fire prevention for Oregon residents.

And, yes, the award is actually a very large golden dalmatian dog atop a small, wooden pedestal.

Lerch, the fire-adapted communities coordinator for AF&R, has been nationally recognized for her work in the four years she’s been at the department.

She received the Golden Sparky award at the Oregon Fire Marshals Association’s annual conference.

“When I started here in 2015, I realized that I have this incredible opportunity to work for a city and a citizen base that is very positive and receptive to education and information,” Lerch said. “This type of proactive community has allowed me and partners to push the limits on what we could do in fire prevention and in creating and moving toward being a fire-adapted community. I’m just humbled and so grateful that I landed in Ashland and have been given the chance to serve this wonderful city.”

Alison has helped make Ashland’s Firewise USA program the top program for any city in the nation. She also has led Jackson County to the top of firewise counties in the nation.

Wildfire Division Chief Chris Chambers said her work with educating homeowners has reduced Ashland’s wildfire risk and created a model for other communities.

All Ashland Firewise neighborhoods have renewed their certifications annually since 2010, Chambers said. Lerch was key to the implementation of the Wildfire Safety Ordinance and evacuation planning.

She’s also worked in coordination with local and regional organizations to develop the Smokewise Ashland program to educate residents and help them cope with heavy smoke.

She spoke about the Smokewise Ashland program at an international conference on the human dimensions of wildfire last winter in Asheville, North Carolina.

Lerch served on the Rogue Valley Fire Prevention Co-op, helped instruct classes at Rogue Community College, Southern Oregon University and at the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute.

She also helped organize last year’s State Fire Prevention Conference.

Lerch is a member of the Fire Adapted Communities Learning Network. She received the Catching Fire and FAC Netter of the Year awards for her work regionally and nationally in fire prevention and mitigation.

“Alison’s work continues to be an inspiration to our community, colleagues around the country and the state of Oregon,” Chambers said.

Lerch is moving to Colorado to be closer to family for her two young children. Her last day at the department is Friday, May 31.

She will work for a national nonprofit organization called Coalitions and Collaboratives, Inc.. as its wildfire mitigation program manager.

She will be replaced sometime after the upcoming budget is finalized.

Contact Tidings reporter Caitlin Fowlkes at cfowlkes@rosebudmedia.com or 541-776-4496. Follow her on Twitter @cfowlkes6.

Oregon State Fire Marshal Jim Walker, left, stands with Ashland Fire Adapted Communities Coordinator Alison Lerch, and Ashland Fire Marshal Ralph Sartain.{ }