The Frontier Elementary campus is a bit safer thanks to joint efforts of the Diamond Star Fire Department and members of the school's student council.
Pupils and two DSFD wildland firefighters hooked up last week to clear a large lot adjacent to the school of undergrowth, brush and dry limbs.
"It was the kind of place with enough fuel where a dangerous wildfire could get started," said Bob Eavenson a DSFD firefighter, emergency medical technician and Urban Interface Fuels Reduction Specialist. "Some people think fires couldn't start someplace like this but after last (fire season) we know better."
Eavenson was referring to the 2004 Willow Fire that burned through a high desert terrain made up of vegetation very similar to what was in the lot next to the school.
In clearing the area near Frontier, Eavenson and fellow firefighter Brian Stultz used a small loader and chain saw to cut, uproot and stack the unwanted vegetation.
The students then raked, shoveled and groomed the area.
"The firefighters did the ‘big people' work before our kids could come in and begin," FES principal Gail Gorry said.
The two firefighters volunteered their services after Gorry and her staff sent out letters to parents asking for project help.
"Anything for the schools," said Stultz, whose son attends Frontier.
In clearing the lot, the firefighters were careful to leave much of the natural environment including most all plants native to Arizona.
"Our fourth-graders use the area for geography and biology studies," Gorry said.
Next on the agenda for the area is for the pupils in student council sponsor Carmelita Locke's class to spend a day landscaping with decorative rock.
"The student council has OK'd $1,500 to be used to purchase the rock," Locke said. "It should be a wonderful area, something to be proud of when we are through."
Plans are to spread the material April 22 which will coincide nationwide with Earth Day.
The cleanup expands to all schools April 30 when the annual "School Beautification Day" will be held from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
During those hours, volunteers from around the town will landscape, paint, and clean up at the six public schools.
At Frontier, the playground will be upgraded and drainage problems will be corrected. A wall near the basketball courts at Julia Randall is to be painted and granite spread.
Payson Elementary School students have pinpointed two areas near the school they would like to see landscaped.
At Rim Country Middle School, plans are to pull weeds, spread granite and to make several walkways more eye appealing.
Constructing a more attractive entrance area near the parking lot is the goal for Payson High School students, teachers and parents.
The Payson Center for Success agenda is to clean the grounds and add perennials to the landscape design.
To participate in the projects or for more information, call Cari Day at Macky's Grill at (928) 970-0241.