Sheila Doughty of Conway has joined the Arkansas Forestry Commission FireWise team as public information officer.

She will assist in providing education and training, and in coordinating Arkansas FireWise grants for local fire departments across the state.

FireWise is a nationally sponsored wildfire mitigation effort that works through fire departments to prepare communities for wildfire. Firefighters complete community

home risk assessments, a community wildfire preparedness plan and community mitigation projects, and may become eligible for grant money, Doughty said.

Doughty has written for several Arkansas newspapers and has experience in research, urban planning and community service through her work at Heifer International. She graduated from the University of Central Arkansas in the 1990s and has taken advanced writing and journalism courses at the University of Arkansas-Little Rock.

The Perry County native grew up surrounded by Arkansas forests and learned to appreciate their beauty at an early age, Doughty said. She has three grown children and enjoys outdoor activities such as hiking, swimming and canoeing.

FireWise’s long-term benefit to a community is the fire department’s commitment to protecting defensible space via community projects. Defensible space is the area between 30 and 300 feet from buildings, Doughty explained. By removing debris and other fire spreading items, communities and homes become less susceptible to wildfire, she said.

More than 200 Arkansas communities have joined the FireWise program since its inception in 2002.

The Forestry Commission is headquartered in Little Rock.

For more information, visit the FireWise website at arkansasfirewise.com, call Doughty at 603-3545 or 813-2554, or e-mail her at Sheila.doughty@arkansas.gov.