Au Sable River Estates, a subdivision near St. Helen and only a few miles from last year’s large wildfire on the Meridian boundary, has received the National Fire Protection Association’s Firewise Community status.
A Firewise model community is typically a subdivision in which residents have recognized that wildfire is a significant threat to their homes, property and safety, and have made the effort to make changes that will reduce or prevent the impact of a wildfire. To qualify as a Firewise Communities/USA recognition site, a community must complete a community assessment and create an action plan, form a Firewise Board, hold a Firewise Day event and invest a minimum of $2 per capita in a local wildfire mitigation project. (Volunteer hours, equipment use, time contributed by agency fire staff and grant funding can be included.) They must submit an application to the National Fire Protection Association’s Firewise Communities/USA Program for national recognition.
Michigan State University Extension staff members Dennis McClure, district Firewise educator, and Phillip Secord, district Firewise field assistant, were instrumental in introducing the Firewise program to the Au Sable River Estates subdivision residents and bringing them together with the local township public safety officer, county commissioner and Michigan Department of Natural Resources and Environment personnel. MSUE staff members were also available to the subdivision residents for guidance in their quest and assisted them in preparing, writing and implementing their plan. Phil made the initial contact and served as the liaison with them. Dennis served primarily in the administrative role. Mark Hansen is the MSUE State Firewise program director.
The National Fire Protection Association’s Firewise Communities program is co-sponsored by the USDA Forest Service, the U.S. Department of the Interior and the National Association of State Foresters.