A popular program that can help keep homes safe during a wildfire will come to an end on Sept. 1 if it receives no more federal funding.

The Anchorage Firewise program has been around for 17 years, but without the grant, the Fire Department doesn’t have the money to keep it going.

Forester, John See, who oversees the program, said a big part of his job is doing home assessments. Over the years he’s done thousands of them, pointing out hazards to homeowners that could spark a fire or cause one to spread. He’s certain the program has saved homes and even lives.

The program also offered an incentive to homeowners to make the improvements, paying up to $500 to share in the costs of removing spruce trees that were deemed too close to homes. See said that part of the program is definitely going away. It’s a frustration for him because he thinks the program is working.

“Look at the payback,” said See. “How many half million dollar homes do you have to save before it pays the program back? Not many. We think this is worth the money. It’s being spent to educate homeowners, and if you prevent even a few home fires it makes a big difference.”

Although See’s position will be lost, the Anchorage Fire Department plans to continue offering home assessments using Fire Department Captains when they have the time, but there will be no reimbursements for homeowners. People who would like to schedule an assessment this summer when some money is still available are encouraged to sign up for one as soon as possible.


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