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Phoenix firefighters advise residents on protecting homes from wildfires

PHOENIX — With wildfire season well underway in the Valley, Phoenix firefighters are offering residents advice on how they can take steps to safeguard their homes.

To demonstrate the dangers of brush fires, members of the Phoenix Fire Department started a controlled brush fire located on the Phoenix Fire Training Academy’s property on Tuesday.

Within seconds, the dead brush was engulfed in flames. Dressed in protective gear and holding hoses from firetrucks nearby, the firefighters worked hard to quickly extinguish the flames.

“We put on this demonstration to show how quickly these fires can spread, even with two hose lines and two pumper trucks – it got away quick,” Phoenix Fire Captain Rob McDade told KTAR News 92.3 FM on Tuesday.

The department’s goal was to demonstrate the importance of creating a defensible space around your property.

Creating and maintaining a 30-foot defensible space around a house is essential for increasing a home’s chance of surviving a brush fire, according to McDade.

That space allows firefighters room to work safely in between both the threatened home and the fire.

“If we don’t have an opportunity to safely engage to protect a house, we might not be able to save it,” Battalion Chief Wil Gartin added.

“That little bit of work on the front-end clearing brush and debris out from your home gives us a safe opportunity to engage the fire — and it could possibly be the difference in saving your house.”

Gartin is one of the brush fire experts within the Phoenix Fire Department. In leading the brush fire demonstration, Gartin also introduced the agency’s new apparatus dedicated to brush fires.

It’s called CR919 — a name chosen for a special purpose.

“It was named 19 to honor the 19 Granite Mountain Hot Shots that perished in 2013 during the Yarnell Hill Fire,” Gartin said.

The CR919 program was created by the Peoria Fire Department but has since expanded to four other local fire departments.

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