Hawkins, Texas -- (SBWIRE) -- 03/31/2006 -- In recognition of their efforts to reduce the vulnerability of homes and landscapes to wildfires, the Brooks Lake community, near Hawkins, 30 miles north of Tyler, Texas, has earned the status of Firewise Communities/USA from the National Firewise Communities Program. The community will be given national recognition on April 7, 2006, in a ceremony to be held at Brookhaven Retreat in Hawkins. A representative from Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison’s office is slated to attend.
The community achieved the prestigious Firewise status because of their work conducting wildfire hazard assessments and developing a plan to address safety concerns. Residents in the community then worked together to implement the plans.
To receive Firewise Communities/USA recognition, the Brooks Lake community had to meet a rigorous set of requirements. “Becoming a Firewise community is a major achievement,” explains Brookhaven Retreat Director Billy Boles, who serves on the Firewise Team. “By preparing homes, structures, landscapes, and an emergency alert system now, before a wildfire occurs, our residents have dramatically increased the chances that the people and structures in this area will be protected should we be threatened by a wildfire.”
Among a number of actions that have been taken to mitigate fire danger in the area, trees have been trimmed along the roads to improve emergency vehicle access, 19 pressurized water connections have been put into place to help combat structure fires, individually owned lots are being evaluated and made safer, and an emergency siren to warn residents of fire and tornado events is being erected on the property of Brookhaven Retreat at the highest point in the community. In addition to two distinct sounds for evacuation or tornado, the siren, which can be heard within a five-mile diameter, allows officials to broadcast voice messages about emergencies such as chemical spills on major roads.
To learn more about the national Firewise program, go to www.firewise.org, or to find out more about the efforts of the Firewise community at Brooks Lake, visit the news section of Brookhaven Retreat’s website at http://www.brookhavenretreat.org.