Firefighters and insurers announced today they are launching Ready, Set, Go! Oklahoma, an initiative to provide Oklahomans living in wildland-urban interface (WUI) areas with information about how to best prepare themselves, their families and property against the threat of wildfire.
Gov. Mary Fallin has declared this week Wildfire Preparedness Week in Oklahoma, which is why the groups chose today to make the announcement at the Capitol.
“As drought conditions persist in Oklahoma, we are getting daily calls about wildfire-related emergencies,” said JoAnne Sellars, Assistant State Fire Marshal.
“Thousands of acres and hundreds of homes have been damaged and destroyed statewide this summer, and at least five deaths are linked to the wildland fires that have broken out across the state, stretching firefighting resources thin and forcing residents to leave their homes,” said Chief Mark Goeller, Fire Management Chief, Oklahoma Forestry Services.
Federal forecasters have issued warnings that the drought in Oklahoma will extend for several more months. Drought Monitor puts 66.84 percent of the state in the “exceptional” drought category. During this summer, many areas in the state experienced 60 days of temperatures exceeding 100 degrees and it was the hottest July on record.
“All of this means that the majority of the state is extremely dry, which substantially increases the risk of wildfire,” said Chief James Fullingim, Fire Chief of Norman, Oklahoma, and 1st Vice President of the Southwestern Division, International Assoc. of Fire Chiefs. “Individuals need to take a personal role in preparing their homes and making plans for their personal safety,” he emphasized.
“Millions of dollars in insured losses have been reported already, and we can expect more as the drought conditions continue to plague our state and spark wildfires,” according to Oklahoma Insurance Commissioner John Doak.
“It is very important for home and business owners to be certain the amount of insurance they have is sufficient to cover a major loss. Homeowners should make sure they have enough insurance coverage to rebuild their homes in the current construction market,” Doak explained.
“We are very pleased to have brought together firefighters and insurers to launch Ready, Set, Go! Oklahoma. Together we can ensure that Oklahomans living in high risk wildfire areas are both physically and financially prepared to face what is one of the scariest natural hazards,” said Julie Rochman, president and CEO, Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety.
The Ready, Set, Go! program is based on three actions:
- READY – Prepare your home and family for the fire threat – follow instructions from local firefighters on how to prepare your home, and have a disaster plan in place for your family and business.
- SET – Situational Awareness – Pay attention to local reports of wildfires in your area and be prepared to leave.
- GO – Leave early! This gives you and your family the best chance of surviving and helps firefighters by keeping roads clear.
“Fire departments take every precaution to help protect our citizens and their property from wildfire. However, the reality is that during a major wildfire, there are simply not enough fire engines or firefighters to defend every home,” said Fullingim.
“We believe that many homes threatened by wildfire can be saved if owners follow a few simple fire-safe practices. Ready, Set, Go! Oklahoma will utilize local fire departments to tell people specifically what they need to do to make their homes more resistant to wildfire,” continued Fullingim.
“Successfully preparing for a wildfire requires individuals to take personal responsibility for protecting their homes and businesses. Through advance planning and preparation, we can all be ready for wildfire,” said Chief Goeller.
Ready, Set, Go! Oklahoma is an initiative of the American Insurance Association, Farmers Insurance, the Trusted Choice Independent Insurance Agents of Oklahoma, the Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety (IBHS), Property Casualty Insurers Association of America and the Southwestern Insurance Information Service. The program is based on a nationwide initiative supported by the International Association of Fire Chiefs, The Firewise Communities Program, The Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety (IBHS), United States Department of the Interior (DOI), United States Fire Administration (USFA) and the United States Forest Service (USFS). To learn more, visit www.wildlandfireRSG.org.
For more information, visit www.wildlandfireRSG.org and click on Find a Ready, Set, Go! Program by State – Oklahoma for more information.