Needville Fire Department public information officer Dwayne “Sparky” Anderson said the only thing more important than fighting fires is preventing them. Which is why the Needville Fire Department, along with the Fairchilds Fire Department, collaborated with the Texas A&M Forest Service to develop a community wildfire protection plan for their respective response areas.
Anderson presented his plan to Fort Bend County Judge KP George Tuesday. The plan identifies high-risk wildland urban interface areas, which are where homes and businesses meet surrounding forests and fields.
According to Anderson, because people cause more than 90 percent of wildfires in Texas, the population growth within the interface has substantially increased the risk.
“A little over three years ago, we embarked on this project and began a discussion about fire prevention,” Anderson told George. “To prevent fires, we have to have information. What you notice is green vegetation. What we notice is fuel (for a fire).
“This training is a huge step forward in being ready when our neighbors (need us).”
The community wildlife protection plan identifies wildfire risks and creates protection and mitigation strategies to decrease risks. Mitigation and prevention strategies include public awareness campaigns for at-risk communities, mechanical fuel reduction to create a defensible space around homes and prescribed burnings on public land.
“I appreciate the leadership you all are taking,” George said. “We could fight the fire or we could prevent the fire. “I’m here to help. Let’s make Fort Bend County much safer.”
Fort Bend County Fire Marshal Mark Flathouse said he was proud of the Needville and Fairchilds fire departments for taking initiative.
“You’re taking the ball and you keep running with it,” he said. “The county is here to support y’all.”