JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The Jacksonville Fire and Rescue Department is using a new form of fire prevention to help keep families and neighborhoods near forests safe by providing them with another line of defense in case of a fire.
The skid steer machine is a part of the Florida Forest Service and JFRD’s new fire mitigation efforts.
Crews spent the day at the Cary State Forest demonstrating how the equipment cuts down and mulches trees.
“Invest a little bit now instead of having to invest a lot of resources later,” Fire Chief Keith Powers said.
Powers said this method will be beneficial to the area.
For people who live near a forest, cutting down the trees adds an extra barrier to keep them safe in the event of a forest fire.
Eliminating the trees helps get rid of the fuel a fire needs to continue to burn.
“It’s a big game changer,” Powers said about the new efforts.
The heavy equipment team will be the ones using the machines, and the team receives year-round training.
Powers also said the machine requires a spotter or someone to help guide the driver, which helps the driver stay safe.
Turning an acre of thick brush into clear land takes about three to four hours.
Powers said creating this barrier adds to an investment the community will appreciate.
“JFRD on the side that most people don’t see does a lot of prevention work, a lot of mitigation work to try and prevent fires in the first place so that people are never in danger to begin with,” Powers said
JFRD is also already in the process of using this new method on another wooded area on the northside of Jacksonville. The fire department also wants people to know there is a year around-burn ban, just to help prevent fires from happening.