The Grand Haven Township Fire-Rescue Department has partnered with Michigan State University to write an application for a $35,000 state grant. It would come from the Wildfire Prevention, Suppression and Education in Michigan's Critical Dune Areas grant program.
The grants are expected to be awarded in December.
Township Fire Chief Tom Gerencer said the grant would help fund a fire prevention education program for homeowners, youth, vacationers and renters.
“I believe that education is the answer to many of our concerns regarding the legalized use of fireworks,” Gerencer said. “There are hundreds of renters that spend a week or two here in Grand Haven Township every summer. Many of these vacationers have no idea how dangerous it is to shoot off fireworks into the beach grass.”
According to Gerencer, beach grass burns quickly and can become a fast-spreading wild fire, especially at high elevations.
“The best way to fight a fire ... is to prevent the fire from starting in the first place,” he said. “Nonetheless, when a wildfire or a large structure fire starts in the lake hills, the department would be better prepared if the grant is awarded because of the addition of signage and planning.”
In response to these issues, the Federal Emergency Management Agency grant will develop new programs and resources that are compatible with critical dune area guidelines to help protect homes, people and the dunes; and educate homeowners and tourism associations about wildfire behavior, prevention, mitigation, evacuation and the challenges of fire suppression in designated critical dunes.
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