A worthwhile effort!

MONTICELLO, Miss. (AP) - Lawrence County firefighters are
reorganizing a program they had hoped to initiate this year to help
homeowners protect their houses from wildfires.
The plan has been delayed, but it is an important message and
alternative means of informing the public are being considered,
officials said.
"We want to do some programs to educate the public on what
we're talking about before we try to implement it," said
Topeka-Tilton Volunteer Fire Department Chief Royce Renfroe. "I'd
like to really start in the schools at the higher grades. If we can
get the kids talking about it, it might get the parents interested
also."
Unfortunately, he said, it's too late in the school year to
attempt anything now.
"I'd like to do it by the next fire season, but I'm not sure we
can get everything ready by then," Renfroe said.
The Firewise Home Protection Program was initiated by county
firefighters after an instructional meeting on wildfires sponsored
by the Mississippi Forestry Commission last year.
Under the plan, firefighters would visit each home in their
district, make recommendations to the homeowners on ways to make
their homes safer against fire, and label the home as firefighter
"friendly" or "unfriendly."
The friendly or unfriendly tag would have no consequences other
than inform for firefighters. They would know whether the home had
characteristics that could pose a danger to them, such as being a
house surrounded by timber with only one driveway.
"It would make homeowners aware of potential fire dangers and
give us more information on the situation we could expect to find
when we arrive at a fire at that location," Renfroe said.
Lawrence County Fire Coordinator Robert Patterson said it is
important to know the dangers and "what you're up against" to
prepare for a fire.
"Anything that takes the surprise out of a situation is
beneficial," he said. "You never know what you're going to find
when you get there. All you know is you have a fire. This would
give us time to plan and prepare on the way there."
The primary reason for the delay in its implementation is the
sheer volume of time necessary to canvas a district, Renfroe said.
"I'd be scared to guess on how long it would take," he said.
Patterson agreed time is a critical factor.
"They haven't got the time as volunteers to do it," he said.
Patterson said it would take close to a month for a volunteer
working eight hours a day every day to cover a single district. The
time does not include time talking to homeowners and advising them
of prevention steps they could take to make their homes more
resistant to fire, he said.

(Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)