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Meigs Twp, Oliver Twp, Peebles

Meigs, Oliver, PeeblesThe Firewise Community of Meigs Township/Oliver Township/Peebles includes the entire primary fire response jurisdiction of the Peebles Volunteer Fire Department (VFD). The Adams County, Ohio community, which is approximately 105 square miles in area, is situated in the rolling hills and valleys of the foothills on the edge of the Appalachian Mountains. The eastern reaches of the community are heavily wooded with dominant oak and hickory throughout, while the western portion contains more agricultural land and grassy fields on wide ridge tops and bottoms, with wooded patches on steeper slopes. Portions of Brush Creek State Forest, Tranquility Wildlife Area, and several state nature preserves are located in or in close proximity to the community.

Wildfires are fairly common in the area, and Peebles VFD officers have recognized a variety of hazards that are frequently encountered when dealing with them. They include lack of good access to structures, steep winding roadways, difficult driveways, and locked gates on many of the driveways. In surveying the Peebles VFD protection area, it was noted that approximately 25% of homes in wooded areas and 60% of homes in agricultural areas had adequate defensible space. Problems contributing to homes with inadequate defensible space included leaf litter accumulation, tall grass, and other combustible material near the structure. The major wildfire safety issue in the Peebles VFD community is the prevalence of debris burning - evidence of open burning was present at nearly every property included in the area survey.

Meigs, Oliver, PeeblesIn September 2007, Peebles VFD decided to make a commitment to address these hazards in order to increase community safety, and developed a plan to take the wildfire education and prevention message to the community. Thanks to a very motivated and proactive group of firefighters, their prevention campaign has been a great success. Since fall of 2007, Peebles VFD has conducted many community wildfire safety presentations. Educational programs have been performed at local schools, libraries, churches, community centers, VFD open houses, and community events---in total reaching literally thousands of area citizens with the message of wildfire safety and community responsibility. Topics of discussion frequently include safe debris burning, defensible space / home safety maintenance, and general outdoors fire safety. Smokey Bear has made quite a few appearances in the Meigs Twp/Oliver Twp/Peebles area over the past year as well. The Ohio Division of Forestry has supported these efforts by providing literature, brochures and handouts. Additionally, Peebles VFD applied for and received two Firewise Ohio hazard mitigation grants. Using the grant funds, Peebles VFD purchased equipment for use in wildfire preparedness, fuels reduction, and safety, including four backpack leaf blowers, four chainsaws with PPE, and an LCD projector and screen. In total, over $10,000 worth of grant funds and in-kind services have been dedicated to wildfire safety efforts in the Meigs Twp/Oliver Twp/Peebles Community since the fall of 2007.

Meigs, Oliver, PeeblesMeigs Twp/Oliver Twp/Peebles is Ohio's third site to be recognized by the Firewise Communities/ USA program, and first in Adams County. Peebles Fire Department officers, township trustees, and village officials are very honored by this award and are grateful to the fire department members who helped to make it possible through planning, dedication, and hard work. The Peebles Volunteer Fire Department has demonstrated, and continues to show, superb leadership in community wildfire safety and prevention. It is obvious that they take pride in their community and in their service. Peebles VFD plans to continue to grow and build upon its Firewise efforts.