On March 12th more than 70 citizens gathered at the Shawangunk Valley Firehouse for a joint meeting of the Gardiner and Shawangunk Town Boards. We were there to learn about Community Wildfire Protection Planning and the Firewise Community Program, a key part of that effort.
NYS DEC Ranger Rob Mecus educated us about the risks of fire dependent ecosystems. The Shawangunk Ridge is one of the prime examples in NY State and has been identified as the highest priority need for wildfire protection programs in the State. Michelle Steinberg, the Firewise program coordinator for the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), explained how this voluntary, community-driven program not only protects our homes and property, but in the event of a wildfire, makes it safer for the firefighters to do their jobs. Simple steps like clearing dead limbs from trees and brush from the ground, creating a “clear space” around your home, careful selection of building materials, and screening of attic, subfloor or foundation vents to prevent sparks from a wildfire from getting into your home are inexpensive and make a big difference.
Other contributors were Greg Greer, Jr., NYS Fire Instructor, Art Snyder, Ulster County Director of Emergency Management, and Heidi Wagner, Sam’s Point Preserve Director and coordinator of Cragsmoor’s Firewise Community effort—the first in NYS.
We ended the meeting with a “brainstorming session on next steps” and got some excellent ideas about how to get the word out about Firewise. I will present a resolution to the Gardiner Town Board urging the adoption of the Firewise Program for Gardiner. We will need interested citizens to form the Firewise Community Steering Committee for our town.
If YOU are interested in being part of this proactive community effort to make our homes safer, please contact me. Thank you. (895-2974, email@example.com)