CONVERSE – In Converse, a team of fire experts put in hard work Saturday morning to tackle potentially dangerous brush behind the subdivision Parc at Escondido. The project is a preventative measure ahead of fire bans and spike in temperatures.
The president for the Converse Professional Firefighters Association Local 4377, Daniel Cano, said his team has looked for ways to be proactive and prevent property damage due to flames.
“This all started from some kids lighting some bonfires and some wildfire concerns in the area,” Cano said.
Converse Local 4377 worked with the City of Converse Fire Department, community leaders, Tiger Sanitation, and the Texas A&M Forest Service to clear the area. Behind the subdivision trees, fallen branches, brush, trash and construction material all pose a risk if a fire were to start. The goal for this project is to clear 1,000 linear square feet of brush.
The firebreak is a clean pathway that allows firefighters to access the area if needed but more importantly, it serves as a gap of land to slow or stop the progress of fire.
“All it takes is a little bit of (spark) and a lot of this brush, and by the time we know it, the fire department is behind the eight ball and really isn’t able to catch up,” Cano said. “So, this measure, creating this firebreak (of) cutting about a 15-foot swath behind these homes allows us to get ahead.”
On Saturday morning, firefighters found a large pile of charcoal ash tossed over a fence. Findings like those, Cano said, are extremely common to see behind neighborhoods.
“These homeowners homes and all of the things they worked so hard for, can go up in flames before the fire department has time to put a stop to it,” Cano said. “There’s always the worry of an errant cigarette or a match thrown out of a car that can set this place off.”
It’s a reminder that fire safety education is still needed, which is why they’re also taking the time to go door to door to speak to homeowners.
Alex Bregenzer, with the Texas A&M Forest Service, also joined the Saturday morning efforts as part of his neighborhood fire risk assessment.
“(I’m) taking a look at the community and what the risk looks like for that community,” Bregenzer said. “From that, I’m going to come up with a couple of risk reduction solutions. There’s a number of different zones that we call the home ignition zone (where) zero to five feet is really going to be important. You need to clean out your flowerbeds, remove debris and vegetated material from in and around your home.”
Fire experts said the best thing to do is be prepared and have a plan in the event of a wildfire.
Although major progress was made for the firebreak, Cano said more work and volunteers are needed to complete the task that runs behind a total of 20 homes.
To sign up to volunteer, send the Converse Professional Firefighters Association Local 4377 a message on Facebook.