The National Association of Counties awarded Gila County a 2008 Acts of Caring Award for its Collaborative Community Fire Program.
The award was presented April 10 in a ceremony on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. The awards recognize county volunteer programs across the country.
The goal of Collaborative Community Fire Program is to protect the Rim Country from catastrophic wildfire by creating enough sources of water that are helicopter-available for first strike.
The program also searches for ways to meet the anticipated challenges that the fire seasons always bring.
Using makeshift equipment from a military surplus store in combination with excess county supplies and local ingenuity, the program created more the 10, 20,000-gallon water tanks of firebreaks to combat wildfires.
The county provided $200,000 in match money for several communities.
The county further matched more than $300,000 of private, corporate and local government money.
The firebreaks will be maintained by volunteer residents from each community and protect more than 85 communities and about 30,000 residents.
The program has more than 1,300 volunteers per year at a value of $500,000 with an annual budget of $50,000 or less.