Arizona Public Service, local agencies promote preparedness for Southwest Wildfire Awareness Week

Published on March 30, 2023 by Chris Galford

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As part of Southwest Wildfire Awareness Week, Arizona Public Service (APS) teamed up with local public safety agencies this year to educate the public on how to prepare for and prevent wildfires and broadcast its own preparedness strategies.

For the individual customer, APS recommended four tips, including:

  1. Remove overgrown vegetation, trash, or debris around the home, poles, or other electrical equipment on the property
  2. Make a plan and emergency contacts while readying a go-kit with items, including non-perishable food, water, flashlights, batteries, and a portable cell phone charger
  3. Update contact information with APS to get current updates
  4. Utilize either the APS app or APS Outage Center with an online account to receive text or email alerts and safety tips in case of outages

“Each year, we see fire risk grow from the mountains deeper into urban areas. Wildfire seasons are becoming more and more unpredictable, and it’s important we all do our part to keep communities safe,” Wade Ward, APS Fire Mitigation Supervisor, said. “At APS, we work hand-in-hand with firefighters, develop plans to reduce fire risk, make upgrades to keep our grid resilient, and partner with homeowners and businesses to be prepared.”

The majority of work will happen at the corporate level, though. For APS, this takes the form of partnerships with firefighters and year-round maintenance work to reduce wildfire risk to communities in its service area. Attention is often on forested areas in northern Arizona, the company noted, but the locales where wildland meets urban sprawl face their fire risks as well.

Internally, APS’s fire preparedness efforts include:

  • Inspecting more than 18,000 miles of power lines and clearing overgrown vegetation
  • Clearing at least 10 feet of defensible space around infrastructure, poles, and substations in wildland-urban connecting areas
  • Creating emergency preparedness plans alongside emergency response agencies
  • Installing advanced power grid technology to better manage wildfire risks
  • Modernizing outage restoration protocols

During fires themselves, the company warned that it might also temporarily take power lines out of service to protect both firefighters and APS crews inspecting the lines and working to remove vegetation or potential hazards.