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Alarm Box: Fire resources available for Ashland

After a year of program development and volunteer training, Ashland Fire & Rescue and the city of Ashland’s Wildfire Safety Commission are offering a new service to the residents of Ashland, the Wildfire Risk Assessment Program, or WRAP.

Volunteers are ready to help residents improve the fire resistance of their homes. In response to your invitation, they will meet with you on your property, and discuss how your wildfire vulnerabilities can be corrected.

They can also help answer questions about evacuation preparedness and the specific risks posed by flammable plants in your landscape.

The 2020 Almeda fire erased any doubt that Ashland is vulnerable to the destructive impacts of extreme wildfire. December 2021’s Marshall fire in Superior, Colorado, showed that wildfire can happen at any time. We can and simply must do more in Ashland to create a fire-adapted community.

Ashland Wildfire Safety Commissioner Dan Dawson summarized: “It is every Ashland resident’s individual responsibility to reduce the wildfire risk on their property. This program provides them with the detailed information they need to effectively reduce that risk. It is our hope that in time, this will lead to dramatic community-wide wildfire risk reduction and the creation of a resilient fire-adapted community.”

For many years, residents of Ashland have been able to request a free wildfire risk assessment from Ashland Fire & Rescue. Trained AF&R staff would spend time working together with a resident on their property to discuss vulnerabilities and recommend proven remedies to reduce their wildfire risk.

A written summary of findings and recommendations was also provided, which could be used to further develop actionable items to reduce wildfire risk on their property.

Unfortunately, in recent years, as AF&R staff capacity to perform these important assessments has declined, demand for wildfire risk assessments continues to grow significantly.

The Ashland Wildfire Safety Commission recognized the need to drastically increase the number of individual property risk assessments each year, to quickly motivate as many people as possible to make their homes and landscaping fire resistant. This is all part of our fire department’s ongoing development of a fire-adapted Ashland.

Members of the WSC worked together with AF&R to design WRAP and recruited community volunteers for training and certification. Oregon State University Extension’s Citizen Fire Academy served as the foundation for a six-module online training course with additional one-on-one field training by certified mitigation specialists from AF&R. Seven volunteers were certified in September 2021 and have already completed more than 50 residential wildfire risk assessments in their first three months of activity.

WRAP your home and family in wildfire preparedness; request a home risk assessment today. Go to fireadaptedashland.org and select “Request a Wildfire Risk Assessment” or call 541-552-2231. A volunteer will reach out to you for scheduling.