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Oracle

The community of Oracle is located in Pinal County in southeastern Arizona. This location is about 30 miles north of Tucson. Oracle has about 3,500 residents and about 1,500 housing units. The elevation ranges from 4,300 feet to over 5,200 feet. This elevation change creates quite a diverse group of vegetation. Many of Oracle’s boundaries are along the Coronado National Forest.

Oracle, AZThe Oracle Fire Department (OFD) is very active in the community and has many support volunteer groups. After the devastating Aspen Fire which burned 85,000 acres and 340 homes in the Catalina Mountains just south of Oracle, the OFD fire chiefs, Albert Ortiz and Larry Southard, decided it was time to develop a Firewise program. The Oracle Firewise program was dedicated in March of 2005.

The OFD hosted several meetings and workshops and the Firewise program quickly developed. Homeowners were eager to participate in the new Firewise program in an effort to help their homes survive a catastrophic wildfire. These homeowners began creating defensible/survivable spaces around their homes by removing high grass and weeds, brush and low tree limbs.

The Firewise board and the OFD operate a brush collection site for the community that is open 7 days a week. OFD supervises the controlled burn of this brush anywhere from 10 to 12 times a year. This program has been very successful and homes all over the community are following the Firewise guidelines for clearing and landscaping their homes. OFD and the Firewise board has followed up with fire risk assessment of all the properties in the community and placed them in three categories, low risk, medium risk and high risk. This map as well as other community information is available on the Oracle Fire Department website.

The Firewise board in partnership and support of the OFD has developed many other Firewise programs for the community. These programs include National Fire Prevention week in the schools, education and information updates on the website, HOPE week walk and program participation with the elementary schools, funding youth explorers and CERTs activities, purchase of equipment for CERTs program, fundraisers for these programs and purchase and installation of community placed automated external defibrillators. Other programs include working with an automatic phone dialer to notify areas of Oracle about emergencies or the need of evacuation, working with Federal grant programs for brush clearing on properties adjacent to National Forest property and maintaining and working with the fire education safety exhibit trailer.

Along with the Firewise programs, the Firewise Board with the OFD provides other good will community services such as the community Thanksgiving dinner, highway cleanup program and assistance with the Santa visit to the fire station in December. Other programs are being developed every year and the successful Firewise program will continue to grow in the Oracle community.