'FireWise on the Kenai' workshop planned

Posted: Friday, September 19, 2008

This year's wet weather has kept down the number of wildland fires on the peninsula, but that doesn't mean the risk is still not there for the future. So, to educate people on hazards such as beetle-killed spruce, to better prepare them for fire should one occur, and to better inform them of the chain of command in a fire scenario, there will be a "FireWise on the Kenai" workshop Saturday.

"It will be an interagency overview of the big fire picture for the peninsula, the roles different agencies play, and what individual people and communities can do to reduce their risk of fire," said Glenda Landua, a project coordinator for the Kenai Peninsula Borough's Office of Emergency Management (OEM).

Landua said the workshop is open to everyone -- residents, landowners, land managers, local associations and business owners, and so far more than 22 people have already pre-registered for the 40-person event.

"I think a lot of people have an interest, and those that don't should," she said.

The workshop will cover a variety of topics, presented by local fire agencies and authorities. Ed Berg, an ecologist with the Kenai National Wildlife refuge, will be presenting on the fire history of the peninsula, while Dianne MacLane, assistant fire management officer for the refuge, will discuss prescribed burns and how they relate to wildlife.

Scott Walden and Glenda Landua, from the OEM, will be speaking on their agency's role in fire management, as well as providing information about the Community Emergency Response Training (CERT) program. Wade Wahrenbrock, from the Spruce Bark Beetle Mitigation Program, will discuss the ways different fuel types and local conditions can affect fire behavior.

Tom Marok, fire management officer with the Division of Forestry, will speak on the classification of peninsula land relative to fire suppression activities. He will also explain how resources are shared and how mutual-aid agreements work.

"We'll also have a FireWise overview," Landau said.

There will be before and after pictures to demonstrate FireWise principles, and workshop participants will visit a home -- within five miles of the workshop -- that has been treated for Fire Wise. Sharon Roesch, from the Division of Forestry, will further explain the FireWise concept of defensible space, will review fire rating signs, and discuss typical fire causes, such as escaped burns.

Chris Mokracek and Gary Hale, from Central Emergency Services, will discuss their agency's fire education program through the school system, including the "Stop, Drop and Roll" campaign.

Roberta Wilfong, of the Spruce Bark Beetle Mitigation Program, will elaborate on the ways to teach concepts related to fire prevention and management, while her coworkers, Bobbi Lay and Wahrenbrock, will discuss the Strategic Placement of Fire Treatment (SPOTS) program.

"There will also be an open question and answer period at the end," Landau said.

The workshop is Saturday from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at the Kenai Peninsula Borough Emergency Response Center in Soldotna on Wilson Lane, the street behind the Soldotna Police Station. Preregistration is required. Lunch will be provided, and there will be numerous drawing for door prizes throughout the day.

For more information, e-mail Landua at glandua@borough.kenai.ak.us or call her at 907-262-2098.

Joseph Robertia can be reached at joseph.robertia@peninsulaclarion.com.

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