TUCSON - Being prepared for wildfires isn't just for rural communities. Firefighters are also urging Tucson residents to be prepared.
Tucson averages more than 1,000 brush fires every year, so east side resident, Penny Nickels-Larkin, took it upon herself to become a Firewise Assessor. By attending a two day course she now has the knowledge to make her neighborhood a safer place.
“We live in a topographic area that can catch on fire and spread just like that and you don't want that to happen,” said Nickels-Larkin.
The Hidden Valley neighborhood near Sabino Canyon has around 300 homes, 10% of them are on the way to becoming Firewise, by simply clearing excess vegetation, clearing gutters and "limbing up" trees around the house.
“Most of the things that we tell people are very inexpensive or no cost at all, just your labor,” said Nickels-Larkin.
It's a little bit of hard work that could earn your neighborhood national Firewise Communities/USA recognition, which can lead to related grants and even a break in your homeowners insurance.
“You can clean up your own property but you have to make sure that everybody does their part and once that happens we're going to have a safer environment to live in,” said Nickels-Larkin.
Battalion Chief John Walka, with the Rural-Metro Fire Department, says Firewise Communities really help them out too, giving firefighters valuable time to protect your property.
“Prevention is the best medicine,” said Walka. “So to be able to get these communities involved ahead of time, they've got that peace of mind that they know if there is a wildfire threat that they've taken those steps to prevent it from happening.”
To follow the steps in becoming a recognized Firewise Community click here.