Pine Village firefighters under chief Larry Brewer and Arkansas Forestry Commission (AFC) staff recently greeted attendees at the Mt. Gale Church at a free community-wide luncheon. With Arkansas’ first yearly fire season in full swing, the AFC FireWise Program offered fire safety strategies in a special presentation to the 25 who arrived for questions and answers.

The main message of the brief safety discussion was defensible space, or area 30-300 feet from homes that should be kept lean, clean and green. 

A lean space has mowed, short grass, trees that are trimmed of branches up to 6 feet from the ground, and maintained landscaping that does not touch roofs or windows. 

A clean space is cleared of debris such as multiple vehicles, yard toys, tools and other material that could be flammable. 

Finally a green space is free of dead vegetation including leaves, pine needles, sticks and twigs.

Burning debris, which includes burning brush, leaves and trash, is the largest cause of Arkansas wildfires. It takes only a few moments of carelessness for these small flames to spread to other nearby vegetation or nearby homes. If homeowners work to create a fire-resistant barrier by following these lean, clean and green guidelines for defensible space, it is much easier to contain flames before they cause structural damage. 

Fire-resistant defensible space makes homes safer and makes it easier for firefighters to get water between homes and surrounding vegetation. Pine Village protects homes in the area are mainly between Conway and Mayflower, which includes Round Mountain, areas close to the new Hewlett-Packard facility, and homes near Collins Orchard. 

Residents here live in a wildland/urban interface, or space where homes are living within or nearby woods. Because the wildland/urban interface often presents challenges to firefighters, such as difficulty accessing homes built down narrow driveways, transporting water to extremely wooded areas with thick undergrowth, stopping fire that jumps up rolling and/or steep hills, and the like, it is important for homeowners to take initiative in fire prevention. Homeowners can make a big difference in the wildfire safety level of homes by taking steps toward maintaining defensible space.

AFC representatives included Mike Cagle, AFC District Forester and Adriane Harrell, Arkansas FireWise Information Officer. The Arkansas FireWise program is sponsored by the AFC and works to provide wildfire safety information to homeowners and training to firefighters all over the state.

With other questions about wildfires in Faulkner County, residents can visit the FireWise website at www.arkansasfirewise.com or the AFC website at www.arkansasforestry.org. The Faulkner County AFC office may be reached at 501-679-2806.