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09/05/2018

Wolf Administration Highlights Importance of Fire Towers to Wildfire Detection

Tannersville, PA – Wolf Administration officials today visited the newly constructed fire tower at Big Pocono State Park in Monroe County to highlight readiness for wildfire prevention and suppression in Pennsylvania.

“DCNR is responsible for prevention and suppression of wildfires on Pennsylvanian’s 17 million acres of state and private woodlands and brush lands, and mountaintop fire lookout towers continue to provide an excellent vantage point for spotting wildfire smoke along the horizon and conveying fire locations to firefighting crews,” Department of Conservation and Natural Resources Secretary Cindy Adams Dunn said.

The 40-foot high Big Pocono Fire Tower was constructed last year. Because of its historical significance, the original tower was moved to the grounds of Gifford Pinchot’s summer residence at the U.S.D.A. Forest Service’s Grey Towers National Historic Site in Milford where it will be used as an exhibit.
This year more than 1,800 acres have been impacted by wildfire in Pennsylvania in a total of 686 fires.

In September 2017, DCNR began a $4 million project to replace 16 forest fire lookout towers on state forestland. Many of the original towers were constructed in the 1920s through 1940 and needed to be replaced. E2 Project Management out of Rockaway, N.J., designed the project; the contractor is Lycoming Supply in Williamsport.

DCNR’s Bureau of Forestry maintains a fire-detection system, and works with fire wardens and volunteer fire departments to ensure they are trained in the latest advances in fire prevention and suppression.

The department owns 50 fire towers that are still standing. About 20 still are actively staffed in periods of high fire danger, and that number is growing as replacements come online. Pennsylvania also uses fire surveillance from planes and people on the ground, but fire lookout towers continue to be the safest and most cost effective means to pinpoint wildfire locations and notify crews without delay.

MEDIA CONTACT: Christina Novak, 717-772-9101; cnovak@pa.gov

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