MISSOULA - Axmen has seen it all on the spectrum of fire preparedness in its 49 years in business, but this year, the need for preparation is higher considering population growth, climate change, and the supply chain.
According to Axmen manager Steve Sontag, “you better get after it or it's going to be too late.”
From his perch in the back of the Missoula superstore, Sontag often hears the same misconception when talking to new Montana residents.
“One of the biggest is what they expect for response time when they get in trouble," Sontag explained."
Wildfires are just that — wild, unpredictable, and too large for standard firetrucks to address. “You know, humanly you can't really do a lot to it,” said Sontag.
Officials may tell you to leave your property, but it’s up to you to prepare your property for the worst.
Sontag told MTN News that one of the biggest requirements in living in Montana is being self-sufficient, and fire season is the time to put that skill to the test.
“To me, perimeter defense and the ability to protect your home is huge, but it's not really one size fits all.”
In terms of supplies, Axmen has it all — from sprinkler systems to pumps that slide right into your pickup to backpack sprayers.
“We sell product here, we sell a lot of products, but the problem is we are not really salesmen, we are teachers,” said Sontag. “That's what we want to be because if you don't understand what we're selling you, then we failed, and with fire you cannot fail.”
That’s why Axmen will sit down with you one on one before you ever buy a product. “It usually takes two, maybe three meetings,” said Sontag.
To be proactive, Sontag recommends taking photos of your home and noting the size of your property before calling to schedule a time to talk with Axmen.
Every home is different which means every fire response should be too.
“Come here, we'll put our heads together and we'll see if we can do something that will save your house or your land or you," Sontag said.
Axmen — which is located at 7655 U.S. Highway 10 West in Missoula is open weekdays from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m.