HONOLULU -- Oahu-based fire departments officials hosted a press conference at its headquarters, June 13, to ask for public cooperation and support in the prevention of wildfires.

Representatives from the Oahu Wildfire Information and Education, or OWIE, Group include working group members from the Honolulu Fire Department, the Federal Fire Department, Army Wildfire Management, the Department of Land and Natural Resources and the Honolulu Police Department.

The group convenes each year to formulate ways to promote public awareness and education about the prevention of wildfires.

"Be vigilant at all times and report any suspected activity," said fire chief Kenneth Silva, fire chief, HFD, in seeking the public's help during the current dry and active wildfire season.

Glenn DeLaura, fire chief, Fed. Fire, advised the public to "ensure your property is cleared of unnecessary shrubbery and debris, and call 911 immediately."

Each agency exhibited its wildland firefighting apparatus in front of a fence that displayed a key message, "Prevent Wildfires," a sign assembled by Fed. Fire's fire prevention division fire inspectors. The working group offered some planning and safety tips for wildfire prevention:
•Report unauthorized dumping of rubbish and vegetation.
•Report overgrown, dry and tall vegetation.
•Protect your home by cleaning the roof and gutters regularly.
•Ensure fire apparatus can get to your home.
•Install smoke detectors on each level of your home and in every sleeping area.
•Create a safety zone around your home.
•When wildfires are threatening your area, if you are advised to evacuate, do so immediately.

OWIE's mission is to create a seamless, cooperative interagency working group; to establish a joint information center to disseminate coordinated information during incidents; to prevent wildfires; to promote public safety and confidence through unified public education efforts; and to develop a common set of reporting requirements.

Wildfire prevention

Learn more about wildfire prevention and safety tips by calling Sanders at 808-471-3303, ext. 617.

(Editor's Note: Sanders is a fire inspector at Federal Fire Department Hawaii.)