PIGEON FORGE, Tenn. (WVLT) -- Nearly one year after the deadly Sevier County wildfires, the city of Pigeon Forge was nationally recognized for their wildfire preparedness Thursday.
The Pigeon Forge Fire Department has led businesses and community members throughout the past year by taking action to protect people and property from wildfires. The community was recognized for its efforts by the National Fire Protection Association.
Manager Michele Steinberg said Pigeon Forge met many requirements to achieve the recognition.
"It's all too easy after a disaster to say it's never going to happen again, unfortunately in an environment like the Smoky Mountains it will happen, it's part of our landscape, it's on us to be prepared for it," said Steinberg.
To receive the Firewise USA recognition, Pigeon Forge completed the following steps:
• Led multiple community meetings over the course of several months to educate Pigeon Forge residents on the Firewise USA program;
• Hosted two community workdays that assembled neighbors to help improve properties’ wildfire preparedness through vegetation and fuel mitigation;
• Performed over 42 free property assessments in Pigeon Forge under the guidance of the Pigeon Forge Fire Department in the initial six weeks;
• Attended several community events to distribute educational material to raise awareness of the Firewise USA initiative;
• Engaged local media in the activities supporting Pigeon Forge’s risk reduction efforts;
• Communicated via the City of Pigeon Forge Fire Departments’ Facebook account to reach over 10,000 followers with wildfire risk reduction guidelines, tips and additional educational material.
Business owner Danette Rolen, owner of the Norma Dan Motel, said this program is an active way to fight fires before they begin.
"It's memories that you can't get back, I mean there's things that you just can't replace," Rolen said.
FEMA also contributed a $288,000 fire prevention and safety grant to the Pigeon Forge Fire Department.
Pigeon Forge officials said half of the FEMA grant will be used to cover personnel costs and literature to support wildfire prevention.