By Kristin Mortenson
DNRC Community Preparedness and Fire Prevention Specialist - MCFPA 

Prepare, Prevent and Protect what you love

A Place for All - Mission possible: Get ready for wildfire!

 

Poster provided

We never know what the upcoming wildfire season will hold for us but we do know one thing: It will come and fires will burn. It is inevitable, especially in this beautiful, historically fire prone area. This can be hard to remember when the grass is green and growing, the balsamroot is blooming, and the larch are awakening. But now is a critical time to prepare for wildfire. As June slides into July it is also an important time to remember to do our part to prevent human caused wildfires as well.

Nearly 75% of wildfires in our area are human caused, which means that most of our wildfires are 100% preventable! Mother Nature is going to continue to throw lightning our way but we need to do our part to minimize the needless sparks we contribute.

Our federal, state and local firefighters work tirelessly to prepare, prevent and protect. However, the responsibility should not lie on them alone-we must each do our part to prevent careless sparks and prepare ourselves, our family and our home for the inevitable wildfire to help protect what we love.


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The Missoula County Fire Protection Association (MCFPA) has a monthly fire readiness program called Mission Possible, and the theme for the month of June is Prepare, Prevent and Protect. Weekly missions posted to the MCFPA Facebook page (facebook.com/MissoulaCountyFireProtectionAssociation) provide easy action items to become better prepared for wildfire and prevent human caused sparks.

The first mission for June is to get prepared by knowing where to go for active fire information (www.MTFireInfo.org) and where to find tips on becoming more prepared for wildfire and smoke (www.MCFPA.org and http://www.MontanaWildfireSmoke.org).

The second mission highlights the importance of preparing for potential evacuation and becoming familiar with the Missoula County evacuation process (www.wildfirepartnersmissoula.org).

The third mission reminds us to double-check before we do anything that may cause sparks. Are campfires allowed where I am? How about fireworks? Can I still burn my debris pile? Learn before you burn or light!

The fourth mission is about doing our part to prevent human caused sparks.

Poster provided

The fifth mission highlights that it is all our responsibility to Prepare, Prevent and Protect. I have an additional action item to add to this list: tell your neighbors and friends! One of the biggest barriers to education working is getting the message to those who need to hear it.


How do we reach the people lighting their burn piles with no regard to whether burn season is open or not? How do we reach the people living in areas of high wildfire risk who do not realize that simply cleaning the pine needles off their roof and out of their gutter could mean the difference between their home standing or not after the next Rice Ridge Fire casts firebrands their way? How do we get the message out to those that need to hear it but are not listening?


They may not choose to read this article but you are. So we ask you to help us carry the message and share it with whomever will listen. Then, hopefully, we can spread the word about wildfire preparedness and prevention a little further than it would have gone before. And more of what we all love might just be better protected as a result. That's your mission, should you choose to accept it.


 

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