Yakama Nation Fire Management is very proactive in fire prevention and has had a Fire Prevention Program for nearly thirty years. The Fire Prevention Program has one full time Fire Prevention Officer.
Throughout the year the prevention program conducts different presentations about fire safety all over the reservation. In the spring the prevention staff visits the elementary schools on the reservation to talk about fire safety to children from the Head Start to the fourth grade. The main focus of these presentations is to teach the younger children not to play with fire and the dangers associated with fire. The older children are taught the many uses of fire and the difference between safe and unsafe fire use.
Burn permits are required for any type of outdoor burning on the reservation. Many residents of the Yakama Reservation request burn permits for different things such as debris burning or traditional uses. Many of these sites have to be inspected by the prevention staff for safety before a burn permit can be issued.
In the later spring months we begin making Smokey Bear appearances at local rodeos and parades. These public Smokey appearances continue throughout the summer including local powwows and festivals.
During the summer the prevention staff carries out its biggest prevention campaign of the year, the 4th of July Holiday. Though the evidence speaks for itself, the message must still be conveyed: Fireworks can start fires and as a result . FIRE BILL. It is important that we try to educate everyone we can on how they can be safe with fireworks and still have fun. Along with firework safety messages, the prevention staff also distributes notices of updated fire restrictions as the fire danger increases with the summer heat. These fire restrictions can vary from banning campfires to completely banning all open flame burning and spark emitting industrial operations on the reservation.
In the fall the prevention staff begins issuing public notices removing fire restrictions as the weather cools down and fire danger decreases. Once again the fire prevention staff begins conducting school presentations, but this time the focus is on fire safety in the home. Although the Yakama Nation Fire Management does not fight structure fires we believe it is important to educate the children of the Yakama Reservation on fire safety in the home. Working in conjunction with the Washington State Department of Natural Resources and the Yakima County Fire District 5 allows us to bring the E.D.I.T.H. trailer to the elementary schools on the reservation. E.D.I.T.H. stands for Exit Drills In The Home and teaches children how to safely exit their homes in the event of a structure fire. The prevention staff begins conducting assessment for fire danger to homes in the Wildland Urban Interface (WUI). A WUI home is one that is located in a rural area typically timbered or rangeland, which has potential of being damaged or destroyed when threatened by a wildfire. The assessment covers what risks are present and what steps can be taken to lessen these risks. Homeowners within the boundary of the reservation can request a home assessment by filling out an application. These assessments continue through the winter and into the spring.