The Hilltop Volunteer Fire Department is hosting an open house from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturday, June 9 at the fire department, 56 Billy Goat Mountain Road.

The Hilltop VFD is working with the Arkansas Forestry Commission’s (AFC) FireWise program to make Faulkner County residents safer from wildfire, and the open house is part of the educational process. The department will have educational materials and the Arkansas Children’s Hospital Smoke House, which teaches kids how to get out of a house in case of fire. There will be a dunking booth, face painting and other activities as well as a barbeque lunch. The event is free to the public.

The Arkansas FireWise program is a nationally sponsored wildfire mitigation effort that works through fire departments to prepare communities for wildfire. Firefighters will complete community home risk assessments, a community wildfire preparedness plan, and community mitigation projects. More than 200 Arkansas communities have joined the FireWise program since its inception in 2002.

The long-term FireWise benefit to a community is the fire department’s commitment through the program to protecting defensible space via community projects. Defensible space is the area 30-300 feet from buildings. By removing debris and other fire spreading items, the building becomes less susceptible to wildfire.

Each year the department will choose a community space – which may be a vacant lot, a home privately owned, a civic space like a church or fire station, or a roadway/primary access route – for a defensible space project. Firefighters will work with community volunteers to improve the defensible space around that location so the structure will be as wildfire-resistant as possible.