On May 25, the Arkansas Forestry Commission will distribute Wildland Firefighting Equipment Kits to fire departments affected by the 2009 Ice Storm at the AFC Washington County Office in Fayetteville. Fire departments from Benton, Carroll, Madison and Washington Counties have been invited to pick up their equipment.
Equipment for the kits were purchased with funds from the $3.6 million American Recovery & Reinvestment Act Grant of 2009 (ARRA) grant the agency was awarded through the US Forest Service for wildfire hazard reduction on property in Arkansas impacted by the ice storm of January 2009. The counties eligible to apply included: Baxter, Benton, Boone, Carroll, Clay, Cleburne, Conway, Craighead, Crawford, Cross, Franklin, Fulton, Greene, Independence, Izard, Jackson, Johnson, Lawrence, Madison, Marion, Mississippi, Newton, Poinsett, Pope, Randolph, Searcy, Sharp, Stone, Van Buren, and Washington.
The ice storm devastated the northern third of the state, producing large amounts of uprooted and broken trees. Nearly 5 million acres of forest experienced varying degrees of damage. This debris will hinder firefighting crews and cause more intense wildland fires. In an effort to assist fire departments responding to wildland fires in the designated counties, $448,800 has been used to purchase items to supply fire departments with a wildland firefighting kit. The kit includes:
• 2 backpack water pumps
• 2 backpack leaf blowers
• 2 chainsaws with chaps and helmets
• 5 council rakes
• 5 leaf broom rakes
The remaining kits will be distributed at three other locations -Western Grove on May 27, Ash Flat on June 1 and Jonesboro on June 3.
For more information about the ARRA Arkansas Fire & Ice Grant visit www.arkansasforestry.org/arra.html
or call (501) 296-1940. For information about how ARRA funds are being used in Arkansas, visit the Arkansas Office of the Recovery and Reinvestment Act web site at www.recovery.arkansas.gov.