Fire crew’s hard work motivates cabin owners to prepare for wildfires

Twenty firefighters were dispatched with chainsaws, mowers, a wood chipper and a skid steer to help remove the overabundance of vegetation in the Fort Peck Pines Recreation Area, south of Glasgow, Mont. For a week, crews worked in hot, humid conditions to complete this important hazardous fuels reduction project.

 “The noise and hustle of crews definitely got the attention of local residents. In fact, it provided a great opportunity to visit with residents on how to prepare their property for wildfires, establish an evacuation plan and do their part to prevent a wildfire from starting,” explained Crystal Beckman, Fire Prevention Program Coordinator with the DNRC. “Before we knew it, residents were raking up pine needles, cutting brush and hauling it to us to be chipped.”

Local, state and federal agencies partnered to complete this work. This collaborative effort was spearheaded by fire managers from Long Run Fire Department, Valley County, Montana Department of Natural Resource and Conservation, Bureau of Land Management and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

Local champion, Bob “Sparky” Hanson, Valley County Deputy Fire Warden and Long Run Volunteer Fired Department volunteer, initially started visiting with cabin owners in the fall of 2015. Hanson explained to them the importance of reducing the amount of vegetation around structures and how this could increase the structures survivability. Over 20 landowners signed-up to have work done.

Crews assessed homes and discussed the best vegetation treatment options with residents. They also discussed the Ready, Set, Go principles. One; be Ready prior to wildfire season. Two; be Set, have situational awareness during fire season; and three; Go, do not wait to be told to evacuate, leave early.

Crews also worked along the roadways removing vegetation within the right-of-way corridor. The removal of vegetation will make travel safer for both firefighters and residents in the event of a wildfire. All vegetation removed from the cabin sites and roadways was chipped. Wood chips are being made available to the public, free of charge, at the Valley County Landfill.

Project successes include:

· Fire agencies were able to come together to help a community.

· Local residents received wildfire preparedness tips and help removing vegetation from their property.

· Firefighters received training on structure assessments, use of equipment and how to properly conduct mitigation work.

For more information or to learn how you can get involved, contact Bob Hanson at (406) 263-8625.



When do you think the snow will finally be melted in Lewistown?