A group of private citizens have come together to fund Carbondale Rural and Fire Protection District’s Wildfire Preparedness and Prevention Program, which was cut this year due to decreased funding.
“I’d really like to thank the people that came forward, as well as those that promoted the idea to the people that donated,” said Gene Schilling, fire board president.
Major donors include prominent area landowners Les and Abigail Wexner, Bren Simon and Sue Rodgers.
In 2013, $80,000 was budgeted for the program, which provides preventative patrols in areas where fires are more likely to occur and quick response times can be a challenge. With part of the fire season already past, the cost will likely be less in 2014.
Private donors opened their pocketbooks for the fire department’s efforts to assist with the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in 2005, and have also occasionally helped purchase new equipment and other small-scale endeavors, but this is the first time locals have stepped up to fund an entire program.
Volunteers and full-time, paid staff will benefit from an additional 280 man hours each week, as firefighters man two wildland engines 10 hours a day, seven days a week. In addition to keeping an eye out for fresh burns, crews will work on public outreach and education, do mitigation work, inspect hydrants, and perform other prevention work.
“The daily presence of these patrols has proven to be a highly effective tool in preventing and containing wildfires in the Roaring Fork and Crystal River Valleys,” asserted a Carbondale Rural and Fire Protection District press release.
Homeowners interested in public education can contact Rob Goodwin at 963-2491.