Water Conservation Alone Is Not The Answer

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Editor:

I was astonished to find so little general concern at this time in the Payson news about forest fires, at least as reflected in the Payson Roundup. What is more, there seems to be no official concern being voiced by the Town Fathers about how Payson should position itself to deal with them in the future. All the interest seems to be about the water supply -- but, please, let the Town Fathers tell us about what good water is to a town burnt down to its knees.

This apparently widespread lack of concern about fire is distressing, since obviously the problem is not going to go away anytime soon and may yet get even worse in the next few years. Are all you Paysonites up there actually ostriches in disguise? Have not the experiences of all of those who have been burned out in northeast Arizona had any impact at all upon the natives and the denizens of Payson, even a little? Let me tell all of you, one good firestorm in Payson will decidedly reduce your demand for water.

The town leaders appear to be very anxious to busily draw up some more rules and regulations -- fine, but let those efforts not be dissipated in quarrels over water conservation and supply, but rather let them (carefully) draw up some requirements dealing with a direct and prevailing life-threatening hazard: FIRE. Let them set requirements for minimum allowable fire resistance for buildings constructed within the forest, as well as requirements for clearances of such buildings from the surrounding trees, shrubs and other combustibles.

Incidentally, these requirements should also be made retroactive upon change of ownership in order to move Payson steadily toward the gradual achievement of some reasonable level of safety for all residents of the town. We have not yet built, so it will be relatively easy for us to conform to new fire regulations, but clearly long-term improvements in existing structures must be mandated -- a fire-prone structure represents a hazard not only to its own inhabitants, but also to the inhabitants of neighboring structures.

When I think of the building plans we had several years ago, I thank all the folks in the Payson Building Department for being so difficult to deal with then (forest fire was never mentioned as an issue, except as regards those concerning the storage of propane). Wow, what a house . Huge wooden balconies at the head of a woody upward slope, cedar lap siding, cedar shake roof (fire-retardant), wooden eaves, etc, etc. On top of that, the CC&Rs required that no tree beyond a sapling could be cut, with no references whatever to fire safety. I am now sincerely embarrassed by that design, even though, in the end, a version of it was accepted by the town -- but we never built. We are grateful not to have spent last summer in Payson looking at homes in the path of Chediski-Rodeo burn on TV, with the smoke and flames of the Rat Fire visible in the distance .

Forget the water situation for now -- but tighten up the fire resistance regulations -- quick, now.

Allen N Wollscheidt, Sun Lakes

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