This year has proven to be one of the busiest fire seasons on record nationwide.
Crews from the Sedona Fire District have done their part to help battle the millions of acres that have been scorched, especially in the West. During the Sept. 20 SFD Governing Board meeting, Asst. Chief Jeff Piechura discussed the magnitude of the fires and the need for as many fire personnel as available.
“It’s the season that keeps on giving,” he said. “For a point of reference, I’ve been in the wildfire system since 1979 and there’s only been three occasions in my career when I’ve seen the nation at Level 5 in terms of preparedness, which is the highest. It’s been at that level for the last month. It’s just been a very long and arduous fire season.”
He said in addition to the fires, the Federal Emergency Management Agency has been stretched thin as a result of the recent hurricanes that have hit the southeastern and eastern portions of the country.
“It’s been an interesting season with fires, hurricane and whatever else may come forward,” he said.
Piechura said all of the SFD personnel who have been battling wildfires are back within the district but are ready to leave again if needed.
“We’re as engaged as we can possibly be while still taking care of things at home,” he said.
Chief Kris Kazian added that the district had budgeted $55,000 in net revenue for the current fiscal year in terms of wildfire reimbursement. After just 90 days of the new year that began July 1, the district was due $70,000 in net revenue.
This was a result of SFD crews — no more than eight at a time — helping 18,000 other firefighters who were contracting with the federal government to battle 13,000 square miles of land that have burned already this year.
“We’re doing our part at our level and participating where we can,” Kazian said.
In other matters, Kazian noted the success of the Sept. 11 memorial at Station 6, where nearly 100 people turned out. He noted the efforts of board member David Soto for the work he did to help put the event together.
“We had a pretty good turnout, to say the least,” Soto said. “We had more people than we had anticipated for a non-anniversary type of thing. We were well represented by the speakers and well appreciated by the community who attended. It was a job well done.”