Forestry: County is firewise

Published 7:44 pm Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Decatur County became one of the first counties in the state and the first in Georgia Forestry Commission’s 16-county district in southwest Georgia to become “firewise,” the commission said in its certification recently.

The certificate is in recognition that the county has taken steps to protect homes, property and lives in case of a wildfire encroaching on the community, said Decatur County acting Chief Ranger Rodney Heard.

By becoming a firewise community, the county and its municipalities and their fire-fighting agencies have identified and prioritized areas for hazardous fuel reduction by using such tactics as prescribed burning.

Email newsletter signup

Another key component is to ensure fire-fighting equipment could easily access property, which is important in Decatur County with its many dirt roads.

“The national Firewise Communities/USA recognition program seeks to encourage and acknowledge proactive, forward-thinking communities that act now to become safer from wildfire,” said a letter to the Forestry unit and presented to the county. “Every year, we discover more instances where Firewise concepts applied by residents to their homes and surroundings prevent the damage and destruction that a wildfire can cause when it moves through inhabited areas.”

Among some of the steps are creating a 3-foot, fire-free area on all sides of a house; clear the build up of pine needles and leaves from the base of a house; trim any limbs on trees hanging over the house; choose deciduous trees, rather than evergreens, when planting close to a structure because sap from evergreens is good fuel for fire and deciduous plants burn more slowly.