Andeen: Fire safety, the need for defensible space


The Town of Paradise Valley has not been immune to fire.

Ellen Andeen

Growing up here I remember all too well the large fires we had on Mummy Mountain in the ‘70s and ‘80s. With the abundance of rain this winter and spring, the desert is overgrown with shrubs and weeds that are a fire danger in the summer.

Some have referenced the dead and dried weeds, brush and overgrowth as gasoline in our desert. Fire can start so quickly from something as simple as a spark from a shovel to a lightning strike.

It is important to consider creating a defensible space around your home or property.

This is an area where vegetation or flammable material has either been cleared, treated or removed creating a barrier around your home to slow the spread of fire.

Speaking with a professional or local fire official, going to FEMA’s website ( or the National Fire Protection Association ( are helpful resources in designing and implementing your defensible space plan.

As it was explained to me, any vegetation that you do not have on water within 5-feet of your home should be considered as a concern.

One question that has been asked from time to time is if the Town of Paradise Valley has adopted the Wildland Urban Interface Code. The Town has not done so yet.

Having lived through several fires on Mummy Mountain and having witnessed the damaging effects of fire, protecting our beautiful landscape where we are so blessed to live is important. I am proud that my mom, Anne Andeen, worked many years ago to get fire hydrants added to the mountain areas of our town.

Additionally, as a reminder please be aware of your surroundings and if you see something, say something. The non-emergency line to Paradise Valley Police Department is 480-948-7410.

Also, Code Red is an important resource for our police to communicate with the community in emergency situations. Visit here to sign up for alerts.

Remember, if you are traveling this summer you can request a vacation watch from our police. On the Town website, go to Police Services and click on the link for vacation watch.

You can also simply stop by the police station and fill out a form as well. Make sure you introduce yourself to one of our officer’s –-- they would love to meet you!

Wishing you all a wonderful and safe summer!

Editor’s Note: Ellen Andeen is a Town of Paradise Valley Councilmember and Chair of the Town’s Advisory Committee on Public Safety.