Having lived in Flagstaff for more than 40 years, I know there are some things you can count on as spring comes to the high country: wind, weather that changes in the blink of an eye, the return of the elk and deer along the highways and freezing at Little League games (did I mention the wind?). Another constant each spring is the preparation done by local fire departments, the Forest Service, County Emergency Management and others for fire season.
At APS, we also plan and prepare for wildfires. In fact, APS’s fire mitigation specialists work year–round to minimize the risk of wildfires. The APS fire mitigation program is comprehensive and includes fire mitigation specialists and forestry crews who work to maintain defensible space around poles, manage vegetation in rights of way and integrate closely with first responder and forest management agencies on a continuing basis.
Unfortunately, Arizona faces a heightened wildfire threat because of drought conditions and more homes and businesses located in densely forested areas. APS has surveyed our equipment in areas at high risk for wildfire and established procedures designed specifically because of the threat of wildfires. We may have to interrupt service or follow protocols that could prolong outages for some customers in order to protect first responders, the public and critical electrical infrastructure. Although we realize that any disruption of power is a major inconvenience to customers, we must always put the safety of first responders, communities and our crews above all else.
As temperatures increase in May and June, so does the number of visitors to Coconino County. These two factors can increase the possibility for wildfires in the area. With the primary fire season just around the corner, we would like to encourage you to take some time to evaluate your own fire mitigation efforts. There are plenty of simple things you can do around your house to help prevent or minimize wildfire risk.
- Reduce the density of surrounding vegetation.
- Thin and prune trees and shrubs, then dispose of debris properly.
- Prune branches to 10 feet above the ground.
- Mow grass and weeds.
- Remove dead limbs, leaves, debris and other litter.
- Stack firewood away from structures.
- Keep roof and gutters free of debris.
- Remove branches that overhang structures.
- Install non-flammable roofing and siding material.
- Prepare family evacuation plans in case of an emergency.
Finally, one very important step we urge everyone to take is to sign up for emergency notifications. The notification system serves to alert you of any emergencies in the area as well as provide first responders with important information to help locate and contact you in case of an emergency. Visit coconino.az.gov/ready to sign up and for more information about what you can do to prepare for wildfire season. Stay safe out there! FBN
By Janet Dean
Janet Dean is the community affairs manager for APS.