May 21st, 2007 06:21 EST
Hazard Mitigation Grant Helps Fight Fires
CHICAGO, Ill. -- Seven wildfire-focused Hazard Mitigation Grant Program (HMGP) projects funded by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) in 1999 have proven effective in the fight against the raging fires and protection of homes and businesses in Minnesota's Cook and Lake Counties.
FEMA awarded $816,524 in federal grant dollars eight years ago to these counties to fund wildfire mitigation projects. These projects included the installation of golf course-like sprinkler systems for 82 homes and businesses, the creation of defensible space for 109 homeowners and businesses, and both defensible space and sprinkler systems for 52 homeowners and businesses.
This was the first time the sprinkler systems has been tested since the installation, and were successful in saving many homes and businesses in the area, while neighboring structures without fire protection systems were destroyed. In this area, the installation and operation of sprinklers has shown to be the most effective and cost beneficial mitigation measure used on physical structures.
"The success of the sprinklers and defensible space showcases the importance mitigation efforts have in saving property during a disaster," said Edward G. Buikema, regional administrator, FEMA Region V. "The community's proactive mitigation measures helped lessen the impact and damage to their area, and serve as a model for other communities to consider when preparing for wildfire emergencies."
In addition, the 1999 mitigation project also helped fund the construction of seven local helipads outfitted with sprinkler systems for both community evacuation and assistance in firefighting efforts.
FEMA's HMGP provides grants to state/local and tribal governments to implement long-term hazard mitigation measures. The purpose of the program is to reduce the loss of life and property, lessen the impact to local communities due to natural disasters, and enable recovery after a disaster. Through HMGP, FEMA paid 75 percent of this mitigation project's total costs and the local community contributed the remaining 25 percent.
FEMA coordinates the federal government's role in preparing for, preventing, mitigating the effects of, responding to, and recovering from all domestic disasters, whether natural or man-made, including acts of terrorism.