DNRC offering 'free' home
owner fire prevention evaluations

September 6, 2001
Seeley Swan Pathfinder
Seeley Lake, Montana

Missoula, Mont The Montana Department of Natural Resources & Conservation (DNRC) announced Tuesday that it is currently offering free fire prevention on-site evaluations for homeowners living in the Wildland Urban Interface (WUI) in Montana.

The DNRC is providing this prevention evaluation program, titled the Defensible Space Audit Program, to assist Montanan's in reducing fuel hazards that endanger their property. The program is funded through the National Fire Plan (NFP) Community Assistance Program.

"This really is a wonderful program for folks living in the wildland urban interface. Not only is it an economic benefit for the localfire departments but it is also an opportunity to build relationships between homeowners and the emergency professional whowould likely be the onesto respond during a wildland fire emergency," explained DNRC Fire Prevention Supervisor, Ed Mathews.

According to Mathews, the program is simple and easy to use. "Homeowners need only to contact a DNRC Area or Unit office nearest them to arrange a visitation.

A DNRC employee, rural or volunteer fire department official, or a contracted consultant will then contact the homeowner for the visit.

Upon completion of the one-hour visit, the homeowner will then receive a written, comprehensive audit, similar to a home energy audit, for their records. In addition, the fire professional will provide suggestions to the homeowner for making their home and property less susceptible to a wildland fire," Mathews explained.

The DNRC will partner with Rural and Volunteer Fire Departments, and private forestry consultants to meet the expected demand.

Due to therecent increase in Congressional appropriations to the National Fire Plan, DNRC will be able to perform more audits than in previous years. "In the next two years, approximately 1800 homes in Montana will have been audited through this program. It's a substantial increase over past years.

Ultimately, this program will be an advantage to both the homeowners and the agencies involved with battling wildfires in the Wildland Urban Interface," stated DNRC NFP Coordinator, Paula Rosenthal.

For more information about the program, contact your local DNRC Area or Unit office. Information can also be obtained by contacting Paula Rosenthal at 406-542-4235.