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Current wildfires around Coimbra, Portugal, have claimed over 30 lives in a country still coming to terms with the loss of 64 people in wildfires this summer. It is a hard and painful truth that the impacts of wildfire are shared globally, as we here in the United States see official reports of 41 deaths in California from wildfires that continue to burn. Both tolls deserve our collective reflection on how we manage our landscapes and engage with our built environment.


António Patrão, Forest Engineer and Fire Prevention Specialist in Portugal, shared his thoughts on the current loss of life and the future of preparedness outreach in Portugal for this blog. His words help us to understand the scope of challenge, the impact of fire on the people of Portugal, and what can be done going forward by everyone.

 

“Portugal faced the most devastating wildfire season ever. Massive, very fast and severe wildfires destroyed lives, goods, landscapes, natural heritage and cultural values. It has been a firework on hell, under extreme dry [conditions], gigantic fuel accumulation, and unprepared communities. The perfect storm.

 

Since January until October [2017], mostly in a few days of June and October, 106 people died. Hundreds were injured. Thousands of pets and livestock died. Thousands homes and industrial facilities and others were affected and destroyed. 500,000 ha [1,235,526 acres] were burned. This represent 50% of the total burned area in Europe. It should be noted that 90% of those 500,000 ha were caused only by 1% of the total ignitions.

 

We are now living a moment of uncertainty when wildfires easily become urban and industrial ones.

 

National wildfire management and civil protection systems collapsed. People, most of them old, were abandon to their luck, trapped in smoke and flames, alone and unprepared. All society is morally affected, in pain and tears. People are feeling hopeless, angry with fire, with the state and with the government, and questioning themselves. It will be hard to recover. 

 

Wildfires in Portugal are now clearly being assumed as a social problem. They have human causes, they provoke human losses, and solutions are in human hands.

 

Solutions? Answers? Let’s go back to the basics on forest management and work close with people. Portugal needs to develop and implement community educational programs on fire. Community collaborative work on fire prevention and response represents one anchor to prepare people and to build resilient wildfire communities. This demands long term policies and outreach by multidisciplinary teams, home by home, street by street, village by village, and community by community. The road is hard but we should take the first step on Firewise.”

 

Photo Credit: BBC, Dozens Die in Portugal and Spain Wildfires, 16 October 2017, pulled 18 Oct. 2017. 

Photo of page from Quickseries Publishing

 

In honor of Fire Prevention Week and thanks to the good work of the Mid-Atlantic Forest Fire Protection Compact and the Northeastern Forest Fire Protection Commission along with QuickSeries Publishing, a free mobile app in both English and Spanish is now available to help people prepare for and recover from wildfire damages.

 

NFPA has partnered with the Compact and the Commission to ensure the app is available for free unlimited downloads for one year. This timely information, provided from the convenience of a smartphone or tablet device, can help people not only prepare their homes and families before a wildfire, but also provide critical knowledge and resources to help them recover more quickly after a fire has occurred.

 

While the app contains regionally specific information for the northeastern United States and eastern Canada, it is rich with information on wildfire preparedness and post-fire recovery that can help residents throughout North America. The settings feature within the app allows users to set the language to English or Spanish.

 Photo of App shared by Quickseries Publishing

According to NFPA Wildfire Division Manager Michele Steinberg, “The app is easy to navigate. It’s well organized with attractive graphics, quick tips, and links to all of the most important information people need to know to get prepared and be safer. It’s very well-aligned to the messages and information that NFPA provides on wildfire safety, and helps people in the U.S. find out how to engage in the Firewise USA™ Recognition Program, and those in Canada how to access FireSmart resources. As Californians cope with a major wildfire disaster unfolding during this Fire Prevention Week, it’s my hope that the recovery information, in particular, may be helpful to them.”

 

Fred Turck, Prevention Program Manager for the Virginia Department of Forestry, shared, "Education is one tool we have to help protect people, homes, and places from the threat and damages of wildfires. This new app is one of the best tools we have had in our educational toolbox for many years and I appreciate the collaboration between all those involved in making this available."

 

 

Click here to download the app from iTunes® or Google Play®.                                                                                        (LINK: http://readydl.com/landing/wildfire/index.html)

 

 

Photo of page from Quickseries Publishing

We need to understand how local demographics influence risk preparedness and evacuation. A field tour I recently participated in to see how communities rebuilt following massive bushfires in the Blue Mountains, west of Sydney, Australia, in October 2013, provides great examples for us all on lessons in action.

 

In early September, I had the opportunity to attend the Australian AFAC 2017 conference and present on the community recognition value of NFPA’s Firewise USA™ Program. As part of the conference, the New South Wales Rural Fire Service (NSWRFS) led attendees on a field tour to learn from the Blue Mountains bushfires, with presentations from their leadership, volunteer firefighters, and community engagement staff.

 


The tour introduced us to the volunteer firefighters who were on the initial attack for a bushfire ignited by tree limbs touching a power line. Strong winds would quickly spread the fire beyond control and become 627 separate ignition events over a 13 day period. In the end, over 405,000 acres would burn and consume 214 homes before the fires were contained.


We learned about the 2013 event and how stronger understanding about populations at risk is helping to frame their preparedness and outreach for the next fire. Bushfires and a robust fire ecology is not new to the Blue Mountains, but its population is. The terrain and development reminded me of the Front Range in Colorado and mountain towns in Eastern Tennessee.

Its day-time population primarily commutes to Sydney now and by 2025, 60% of its population will be over 65 in age. This is changing resident perception of fire department response and their own ability to mitigate the risk on their own properties. 90% of the homes in the Blue Mountains are within 300 meters of wildland edge and the NSWRFS Community engagement staff shared that they see a 7-year cycle of new residents for renewed education about that risk.

 

The Blue Mountains are also a popular tourist destination and this poses a challenge if fires occur because, aside from the influx of population, many visitors are not proficient in English.

 

The 2013 fire illuminated lessons on public communications that influence how the NSWRFS connects with residents now. Their research showed that residents learned of the fires from family members messaging each other and turned to social media after for official updates. In the moment, they wanted to hear what is expected to happen from the fire services and not what already occurred. The NSWRFS explained that their communications to the public share as much as they know, clearly and honestly in plain language, recognizing that they are a apart of the information stream, not the sole deliverer anymore.

By focusing on these variables, fire services and residents alike are better understanding who is at risk during the next fire.  Out of the ashes of the 2013 fire also came a yearly 2-day workshop held in the Blue Mountains. It educates the public on rebuilding and fosters the collaboration between residents, builders, and planners around enacted development legislation that is an impressive accomplishment to see from an American wildfire perspective.

 

Photo Credit: Lucian Deaton, NFPA

 

In just over 24 hours, more than 14 wildfires in eight northern California counties have spread to homes and businesses, destroying some 1,500 structures, according to a Los Angeles Times report. Nevada, Sonoma, Napa, Yuba and Butte counties are some of the areas where the wind-driven fires are triggering mandatory evacuation orders for residents, the evacuation of the Kaiser Permanente and Sutter Hospitals in Santa Rosa, along with school closings in some areas. The Times article has information for local residents, including a text message service to find out more details in real time about the fires and what areas are being affected. The city of Santa Rosa has a city-wide incident information page updating residents on evacuation status and more.

 

See NFPA's tip sheet on what to do on a high fire danger day here. To track the fire, check NFPA's map (pictured above) which pulls data updated every 24 hours from GeoMAC, an interagency mapping and tracking system. For more localized data, CAL FIRE has a simple map of active fires along with a detailed incident tracking system that includes links for each incident covering evacuation orders and more.

Scout Troop #364 in front of home with residents after completing work around property.

 

One of the things I enjoy most working with a program like Firewise USA™ is the opportunity to visit communities and see firsthand the actions they are taking to prepare and protect their homes from wildfire. In late September, the community of Nassau Oaks near Callahan, FL, kindly welcomed me as I attended their annual Wildfire Community Preparedness Day event.

 

An active Firewise USA™ participant since 2008, this year has proved challenging for them to meet the annual recognition program requirements. Their Preparedness Day event was delayed once due to spring wildfires and narrowly escaped being cancelled by Hurricane Irma. In spite of all that, residents, volunteer fire fighters, Florida Forest Service staff, and a local tree service gathered on a Saturday morning with positive attitudes to see what they could accomplish. They spent hours cutting up downed trees, feeding the chipper, hacking down vegetation, and removing debris left by the hurricane.

 

My favorite part of the day was when Scout Troop #364 from nearby Baldwin, FL, arrived to assist one homeowner’s property. The resident has been a strong supporter of Firewise in Nassau Oaks but due to recent health concerns was unable to safely take action on his own property. Under his direction, the scouts gathered limbs, raked leaves and relocated debris to the side of the road where it would be picked up later by the county. These young men were polite and hardworking, exemplifying service to others.

 

I owe a big thank you to the masterminds of the event, Annaleasa Winter with the Florida Forest Service and Craig Herr, the resident leader for Nassau Oaks and volunteer fire chief, for allowing me to be a part of the day. I applaud them, the community, and Florida Forest Service for their commitment to reducing wildfire risks and their dedicated support of Firewise.

 

Home owner, Florida Forest Service, and volunteer fire fighters feed chipper in front of house    Nassau Oaks Firewise recognition sign at community entrance.     Nassau Oaks preparedness day participants in front of Florida Forest Service equipment.

 

Photo credit: NFPA

Photo shared by LA City Fire

According to their website; the InterAgency Board for Equipment Standardization (IAB) are a loosely organized voluntary collaborative panel or board comprised mainly of first responders sanctioned by the US Attorney General and founded by the Department of Justice’s Federal Bureau of Investigation Weapons of Mass Destruction Countermeasures in 1998 to strengthen the nation’s ability to safely respond to large disasters.   They have recently released a new paper, “Training Trigger: Wildland Fire Fighting/Urban Interface”.  This is the first paper they have released for first responders regarding wildfire response in areas known as the wildland-urban interface.

 

Photo shared by LA City Fire from the La Tuna Fire

With the growing wildfire threat, (this year’s wildfire suppression costs have already exceeded every previous year’s costs) and large wildfires occurring in areas that have not traditionally seen large wildfires like Gatlinburg, TN, it becomes increasingly important for fire departments that have traditionally focused on structure fires to be trained and equipped to respond for calls of assistance for wildland fires.

 

This paper refers to NFPA Standards 1051 Wildland Firefighting Personnel, 1142 Wildland Fire Management, 1906 Wildland Fire Apparatus, and 1977 Wildland Firefighting PPE as well as the NFPA report, “Wildland/Urban Interface: Fire Department Wildfire and Readiness Capabilities.”   It points to activities that are suggested for fire departments to engage in, to safely operate in wildland fire situations:

 

  •      Take advantage of the most current wildland fire training
  •      Preplan for where your agency can get resources to assist with wildfire response
  •      Ensure that all responding fire service personnel have met physical fitness standards established by the “pack test”
  •      Practice operating nontraditional apparatus and equipment such as type 3 engines used in wildfire response
  •      Have an adequate communications plan (ICS 205)
  •      Update emergency Operations Procedures (EOP) for wildfire response
  •      Clearly, define specific missions and operations periods for urban/suburban departments before a wildfire
  •      Quantify your resources and establish minimum resource depletion levels for wildland firefighting incidents
  •      Develop before a wildfire, state or region-wide plans for deployment during a wildfire including how resources will be requested, dispatched, compensated, and managed.

 

When new information becomes available on this topic, it will be shared on the IAB website.  You can also share comments, feedback and any questions about this paper to info@interagencyboard.us .

Picture submitted by Bob Kim of Dalton, Georgia for Wildfire Community Preparedness Day

The National Preparedness Month theme for the week is, Get involved! Be a part of something larger.  This theme made me think about successful Firewise sites that I had visited across the United States.  The most successful ones were those, where each person played an integral part in helping to make their neighborhoods safer from wildfire, using their unique talents and interest. 

 

It seemed that communities that achieved success tried to get to know each other and valued one another.  They realized that in order to create a safer environment for their family and home they needed to help others be safer too.  It was difficult to do alone.  I attended meetings where residents young and old offered their skills and abilities towards building safer places together.

 

Many of these vibrant neighborhoods did not just host meetings but also worked together to host fun events, where people felt more comfortable being genuine and had time to really get to know each other.   These neighborhood barbeques, picnics, progressive dinners and carnivals really were the heart of building a good foundation from which people could share what needed to be done and learned how to step up to help make a difference.  Every community can learn from these successes and be successful themselves in working together to grow wildfire safety.  Learn more about how easy it is for you to get started creating your own unique Firewise community today.

Picture submitted by Deborah Rice of North Fork, California for Wildfire Community Preparedness Day

Photo shared by Jeremy Oberstein Government Affairs Director, LAFD 

NFPA’s Fire Protection Research Foundation an independent 501 (c) (3) organization dedicated to research needs both domestic and international that address industry challenges in multiple areas, (including detection and signaling, hazardous materials, electrical safety, fire suppression, among other issues) is hosting a free webinar September 27 from 12:30-2:00 pm ET; Wildfire Urban Evacuation Modeling.  The webinar will share information explored in phase 1 of a research project about how to improve outcomes during evacuation processes as the result of wildfire

This study was first proposed after the Witch and Guejito Fires in San Diego County and subsequently submitted again to The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) after the Fort McMurray Fire when it was approved for funding. Subsequent mega-fires resulting in a large loss of life during civilian evacuations in Gatlinburg, Tennessee, and Portugal further emphasized the need for research to see if a tool could be developed to help people make better evacuation decisions. 

Photo shared by Jeremy Oberstein Government Affairs Director, LAFD 

The desire is to develop a tool that would help three models involved in evacuating during large wildfires better talk together.  The three models identified are 1. wildfire and smoke behavior, 2. psychological modeling (looking at human behavior), and 3. vehicle traffic flow modeling.  The research is exploring the opportunity to see if a tool can be developed to help make a system where the three models talk together to better forecast the progress of the incident and the effectiveness of pedestrian and vehicle evacuation response. Panelists involved in this study come from a variety of fields, backgrounds, and levels of expertise. Dan Gorham a project manager with the Research Foundation shared, “We are looking at the strength of the whole system and not just the individual models”.   Emergency responders, educators, community planners and incident commanders are encouraged to register and participate in this interactive webinar.

Photo shared by Jeremy Oberstein Government Affairs Director, LAFD 

Nine senators reintroduced a bipartisan bill on US Senate floor; “The Wildfire Disaster Funding Act of 2017.”  The nine bipartisan sponsors of the bill include Senators Ron Wyden, D-Oregon, Mike Crapo, R-Idaho, Maria Cantwell, D-Washington, Orin Hatch R-Utah, Dianne Feinstein, D-California, Jim Risch, R-Idaho, Jeff Merkley, D-Oregon, Cory Gardner, R-Colorado, and Michael Bennet, D-Colorado.

 

This bill will address; providing disaster funding for extremely large fires, helping to reduce the need to borrow from the prevention and conservation funds, and is looking at preventing the erosion of agency budgets resulting from increased suppression costs.

 

Record-setting suppression costs have again seen budgets strained, especially out by wildfires out west.  According to news reports in the last couple of weeks, the US Forest Service had to transfer $300 million dollars from other budgets just to meet current fire suppression needs.  This bill is similar to the Wildfire Disaster Funding Act of 2015 which was not voted on in 2015.

 

Welcome to Week 3 of National Preparedness Month! Our friends at Ready.gov suggest that this week, it’s time to build out and practice your emergency plan. For the grown-ups,  the theme relates well to both financial preparedness (making sure you have enough insurance, knowing where all your important documents are, doing a home inventory) and practicing your home escape plan or even an evacuation plan in case of a community-wide emergency like a hurricane or a wildfire.

 

What grown-ups often forget is to include their kids in their emergency planning. Now, I don’t mean you’re so forgetful that you would drive off without them (although that would be bad!). What I mean is that children can learn what to do to be prepared as part of the family emergency plan – but many families don’t include the children in this conversation.

 

A few years ago, NFPA discovered that parents in wildfire-prone areas thought that their children knew a lot about wildfire and what to do. When we talked to the kids, they often said they had not talked to parents or they were not aware of the family’s plan in case they had to leave or had to meet up if an evacuation order was called. These are the same kids who are learning fire drills in school – it’s important that they learn at home, too.

 

A recent mock-emergency drill was recorded as part of a human-interest news story in Colorado. Watch this clip to see a family with children of different ages work to gather their belongings and get out of the house in just 15 minutes. They do pretty well, but notice at 1:55 that the reporter asks the two younger children waiting in the car with their pet, “Did mom and dad tell you to wait in the car?” Communication with children of any age about their role and the steps of a safe evacuation is key.

 

NFPA has lots of free resources to help talk to your kids about emergencies and evacuation planning without fear. Check out our TakeAction page for teens (hint: it is great for grown-ups, too!). We have non-scary videos about wildfire facts, preparing your pets for emergencies, and more. You can download a free tip sheet about what to take with you if you have to evacuate. Visit our friend Sparky the Fire Dog for free tips and a home escape plan in case of fire.

 

Photo credit: FEMA/Jana Baldwin

Members of cascadel woods fire brigade in front of chipper

 Members of Cascadel Woods Fire Brigade at April 15 work day - Carol Eggink

 

When reading through annual Firewise USA renewals, you never know what you might find.  Typically we hear about community chipper days, educational booths, outreach efforts and larger scale vegetation removal projects.  This year, Cascadel Woods shared the day their community had to evacuate due to the fast moving Mission Fire.  Joining the Firewise USA recognition program in 2010, Cascadel Woods’s residents have worked hard to reduce their risk from wildfire, and on September 3, 2017, those actions paid off:

 

"On this day we were evacuated from the subdivision due to a fast fire moving up the mountain. It was the Mission Fire. The fire crossed our only road out and about 50 residents were trapped inside the subdivision. We have and maintain a shelter in place for just this type of event. There are four Fire Boxes with equipment in the subdivision and the equipment was laid out and made ready, just in case. As it turned out, the fire stopped at the entrance of our subdivision and the fire crews were able to maintain a clean line around our subdivision due to the fire preparedness we had accomplished over the year. Three homes just outside the subdivision were totally destroyed. We had a few spots were the fire crept onto a few properties which were butted up to the National Forest, but no major structures were lost. A small out building was lost next to the forest land. Not bad for our small community." – Carol Eggink

 

View of the smoke column from the Mission Fire off a deck of a home in Cascadel Woods.

View of Mission Fire smoke column from Cascadel Woods home prior to evacuation - Carol Eggink

 

For more information about the risk reduction efforts of Cascadel Woods residents and the firefighter response, check out this article by Sierra News Online.

 

Efforts from sites like Cascadel Woods make my heart soar.  Not only are they taking action to protect themselves, but their efforts assist responding firefighters.  As a former wildland firefighter, I can’t tell you the number of times my crew and I looked at our assignment on a fire and wondered “what will we find when we get there?” When an individual homeowner or group of neighbors take the time to reduce the vegetation around their homes and properties it truly does make a difference.  Often, fire behavior is altered in a way that provides an opportunity for firefighters to engage the fire directly, in a safe manner. Cleared areas such as the meadow in the Cascadel Woods also provide a secure area for fire fighters to retreat to if needed. 

 

Cascadel Woods is one of over 1400 recognized Firewise sites across the county working hard to reduce their risk from wildfire. Are you ready to take action? Check out the Firewise USA toolkit for tips on how to prepare.

 

Have you submitted your Firewise USA 2017 renewal? Visit the new Firewise portal and let us know what you’ve been up to.

 

Here's the perfect opportunity to highlight and recognize an outstanding individual, group or organization that continuously demonstrates exceptional wildfire risk reduction achievements - the 2018 Wildfire Mitigation Awards.

 

The national awards are the highest honor for outstanding work and significant impacts in wildfire preparedness and mitigation. Established in 2014, the awards were developed in response to an overwhelming number of exceptional wildfire risk reduction efforts occurring throughout the U.S.

Nominating a deserving individual or organization is simple and easy-to-do. Read the guidelines and supporting criteria and get started by completing the online form.

Three award categories cover a broad spectrum of achievements:

  • National Wildfire Mitigation Award
  • National Mitigation Hero Award
  • Wildfire Mitigation Legacy Award

Jointly sponsored by the National Association of State Foresters (NASF), the International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC), the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), and the USDA Forest Service (USFS), the deadline to submit a nomination is Tuesday, October 31.

 

Awards will be presented at the Wildland Urban Interface Conference, February 28, 2018, in Reno, Nevada.

Photo shared by William Boetner Austin, Texas 2017 Wildfire Community Preparedness Day

 

Just recently, I have been made aware of three opportunities for communities and community members who are involved in wildfire preparedness activities that I would like to share.  These opportunities may be helpful to residents in wildfire-prone areas.

 

 1. The application period for an award opportunity for “Youth Who Stand Strong Against Disasters” is open until Wednesday, September 20, 2017.

 

As the nation responds to Hurricanes Harvey and Irma as well as the wildfires in the Western U.S.,YSA’s Youth Stand Strong Against Disasters awards program will recognize and support youth who are responding to recent disasters.

 

They are looking for creative and innovative ideas from youth who are providing immediate relief to those affected by recent disasters, supporting long-term recovery and rebuilding efforts, and helping prepare their own communities for disasters. Awards of $250, $500, and $1,000 will be awarded in each of three categories:

  • Disaster Relief
  • Disaster Recovery & Rebuilding
  • Disaster Preparedness

Please share with your networks. All youth, ages 5-25, in the United States are eligible to apply. Nonprofits, K-12 schools, colleges/universities, faith-based organizations, and local government organizations are also eligible to apply on behalf of a youth-led project, it will recognize young people who are standing strong against disasters.  

 

Applications will be accepted until Wednesday, September 20 at 5 PM Eastern time. Apply at www.YSA.org/standstrong 

 

2. The application for a training opportunity for women interested in a career in wildland firefighting open until Monday, September 18, 2017.

 

 Los Padres National Forest in California is hosting the 2017 Women Wildfire Basic Training Camp.  The deadline to apply is Monday, September 18, 2017.  To learn more about this great opportunity, please go to the Los Padres National Forest website page

 

 If you have questions, please contact the Los Padres National Forest: (805) 605-4995 Office (805) 680-4559.  According to their notice, “Last year the Los Padres National Forest hosted its third annual Women in Wildfire Training Camp.   Twenty-three participants were selected and successfully completed the training camp. At least fourteen of the twenty-three graduates have been selected and offered firefighting positions throughout the west coast.” View this exciting video from last year’s training camp to learn more! 

 

3. The 2017-2018 Community Planning for Wildfire Assistance (CPAW) application open until September 29, 2017.

 

The 2017-2018 COMMUNITY PLANNING ASSISTANCE for WILDFIRE (CPAW) application process is open until September 29, 2017, 5 pm MT. Applications and program information is available on the CPAW website: planningforwildfire.org.

 

According to the notice, CPAW is a national program funded by the US Forest Service and private foundations that is managed by Headwaters Economics and Wildfire Planning International.  CPAW provides free consulting services to selected communities to deliver voluntary land use planning recommendations which address the wildland-urban interface.  Communities will be selected for funding to receive the service on a competitive basis.  Only applications demonstrating support from both the community’s planning and fire departments will be considered. Any town, city, or county having jurisdiction over local land use and zoning requirements can apply.

 

For the past two years, the NFPA Conference & Expo has boasted excellent sessions on a wide variety of wildfire-related topics. That's because wildfire managers and researchers, community activists and safety educators, and fire service leaders and insurance industry professionals have provided their proposals and committed their time and expertise to present timely, relevant and innovative information. 

 

NFPA's deadline for proposing session topics is coming fast - Monday, September 25 is getting closer! Click here to propose your innovative session and list your dynamic speakers for an opportunity to present at the June 2018 conference slated for Las Vegas, Nevada.

 

To get a taste of the content and scope of this past year's conference offerings, visit the Education Session page on the Conference website and choose the Wildfire track for easy viewing. 

 

We hope you'll make us a great proposal and that we'll see you up on the podium in Vegas!

Photo credit NFPA


There have been so many fires burning across the country.  Many of these fires have been contained and residents are returning to their homes.  Our hearts and thoughts are with them.  Hazards abound in areas that have recently been impacted by wildfire.  After the wildfire has been contained and emergency services personnel have lifted the evacuation order, allowing residents to return to their home, it is important to enter with caution. Follow some simple tips can keep you and your family safe, protect your property, and help begin the daunting task of rebuilding if necessary after a wildfire has passed. 

Photo credit NFPA

 1.  Listen to news updates for information about the fire. Return home only when authorities say it is safe.

  • 2. Proceed with caution to your home site.  Look for downed trees, power lines and other hazards on the road.

    3. Once you are home look for hot spots in and outside of the home.  Sometimes these can flare up after a fire has passed.

    4. Keep a close eye on children and pets if they return with you.  Hot ashes and smoldering embers can burn feet and paws. Make sure everyone on site is wearing gloves, hard soled shoes, and long sleeves and pants.

    5. Be aware of any health hazards that may be on site.  Residues from items burnt during a fire may pose a health hazard risk.

    6. Secure your property.  Remove valuables if not staying at the home. Turn off utilities if there is damage to the home. Follow NFPA’s guidelines in 70B, Recommended Practice for Electrical Equipment Maintenance.  Use wood and other waterproof materials to protect damaged areas from the elements

    7. Contact your insurance agent immediately to report a loss.  Work with them to understand what is covered in your policy.  Get estimates from licensed and bonded contractors for the work.  Make sure that their license is for the type of work that they are doing.  Beware there are many scam artists that prey upon disaster victims.

Photo credit NFPA

 

Also be aware that after a fire torrential rains can pose an increased flash flood risk.  Learn about the topography from local emergency managers and subsequent risk to yourself and your property.  Protect your property with sandbags and other measures. FEMA has a good tip sheet regarding flood hazards after a fire.  Sadly if you have to rebuild, NFPA’s Firewise USA ™ program has free resources to make your new home more fire resistive. 

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