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Mayor Mitchell recently hosted a Community event to inform citizens of Blount County’s preparedness in the event of a wildland fire. A panel presented information at the Heritage Center in Townsend and then again the next night at Walland Elementary School.
The panel consisted of representatives from the Federal, State and local agencies that respond to, prevent and mitigate wild fires. In attendance were Blount County Mayor Ed Mitchell, Blount County Sheriff James Berrong, District Forester Darren Bailey from the Tennessee Department of Forestry, Fire Management Officer Greg Salansky from the National Park Service, Blount County Fire Protection Chief Doug McClanahan, Townsend Area Volunteer Fire Department Chief Don Stallions and Blount County Emergency Management Director Lance Coleman.
The panel discussed how each department responds to wild fires and how each participates in educating homeowners in preparing their homes to survive a wild fire disaster. One of the major themes throughout the night was the interagency cooperation that exists between the various departments and how well these agencies work together as a team to protect Blount County.
All agencies stressed the important role homeowners can take to help ensure their home and neighborhood is prepared. Information can be found at www.burnsafetn.org. Neighborhoods can also explore the process for becoming a certified Firewise Community. TN Department of Forestry also recommended watching a video entitled “Your Home Can Survive a Wildfire”, which video has valuable information about measures homeowners can take around their property.
Mayor Mitchell and BEMA Director Lance Coleman discussed new technology that Blount County is utilizing to notify citizens and visitors of evacuation and emergency notices. The IPAWS system allows emergency personnel to send out alerts to all cell phones in the affected area. There is no need for citizens or visitors to sign up for this service.
Mayor Mitchell says, “I am thankful for the great attendance to our community events by all of the agencies represented and also from our citizens who came. Over 150 Blount County residents attended these two community events. As we see more and more of our population moving into the wildland urban interface areas and having seen the devastation that happened in Sevier County with the wildfires, it is crucial that we are prepared and have every measure in place to ensure that our citizens’ lives are safe.”
Packets of the Firewise Community program can be found in the Mayor's office while supplies last.
A link to the video presentation at Walland Elementary School will be available on our website very soon.