There is probably no more critical topic put before the Payson citizens, than the prevention of fire.

While this is a forever issue, certain years such as this one, require extra effort and vigilance. The risk of a catastrophic wildfire is ever present to our community.  We have had major fires in the nearby area in the last couple of years. Luckily, they have not yet entered our community, but we must do all we can to mitigate this risk. I have been actively involved in wildfire mitigation in several ways. We must remember that the entire community is at risk and that we must all take efforts to protect ourselves and others from fire.

Last year, our town council voted to amend our local building codes to add enforcement to clear overgrown vegetation on properties within our town. Through time this effort will decrease the risk of a runaway wildfire engulfing our town. As local properties are cleared and thinned there is a need to safely dispose of removed vegetation. I have actively supported the funding needed to keep our local brush pits open so residents can dispose of this vegetation.

Similarly, the town staff is currently working with local builders and other interested parties to develop revisions to the town building code to reduce wildfire spread due to building structural features. The use of fire-resistant siding and roofing are major portions of this effort. Again, the intent is to do all that is possible to prevent the spread of any fire that enters our town.

Our risk is not limited to areas within our town limits. We obtain our vital water supply from the CC Cragin reservoir located 25 miles north of town. Should a wildfire destroy the pipeline from this reservoir, or destroy the forest surrounding the reservoir, our town would lose its major source of water. Because of this I have been very actively working with several levels of local, state, and federal government to obtain grants and other funding to thin the forests adjacent to the pipeline and reservoir. This funding has been obtained and the first phase of forest thinning is in process.

Finally, I have supported and will continue to support improvements to our local fire department. We are taking action to raise the professionalism of our firefighters. We have supported them by purchasing two new fire engines for our town.

No issue is more important to the safety of our community than wildfire prevention.

A fire-safe community is a safer community.

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