The Texas campus of Northwood University has received recognition by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) through the Firewise Communities/USA® Recognition Program as a Firewise community for 2013. The National Fire Protection Association’s (NFPA) Firewise Communities Program encourages local solutions for wildfire safety by involving local constituents in the effort to reduce wildfire risks. This recognition for the Texas campus was made possible in large part by the completion of the Cedar Hill Community Wildfire Protection Plan Project (CWPP), a portion of which occurred on the Texas campus in January of 2013.The city of Cedar Hill and the campus of Northwood University are nestled in the midst of the wildland urban interface, an area where populated development begins to encroach on rural, undeveloped land. Aware of the challenges posed by their location, the Cedar Hill Fire Department put an emphasis on developing a protection plan. Working in conjunction with Texas A&M Forest Service, the Cedar Hill Fire Department began developing its strategic plan to address the potential of wildfires in 2008. Dean of students Mike Anguiano, along with Dr. Lynda Folts of the sustainability program, represented Northwood University on the project.
Firefighters from the Texas Forest Service used a Gyro-Track mulching machine, as well as chainsaws, a chipper and other hand tools to create shaded fuel breaks on three sites in the city of Cedar Hill to include over 17 acres at the Texas campus.
“This project will enhance the access and egress to the campus for emergency responders,” said Nick Harrison, a wildland urban interface forester with Texas A&M Forest Service. “And if a fire did occur, the fuel break could help keep it out of the adjacent populated areas and reduce the impact on University property.”
Northwood University President Dr. Kevin Fegan said he was pleased to know the area would be safer thanks to the work being done. “This project not only ensures we are taking steps to protect our campus, but also our community,” Fegan said. “Part of our approach as an institution has been to be a good neighbor and a valued partner in our community. We are proud to be a part of this collaborative effort.”
Dean of Students Mike Anguiano said, “We are proud to join more than 1,000 communities in the U.S., including 60 in Texas, that have dramatically lowered their risk of wildfire damage by participating in the Firewise Communities/USA® Recognition Program.