How is NFPA helping to make a difference when it comes to wildland fire issues? During his opening address at the Backyards & Beyond conference in Denver today, NFPA President Jim Shannon outlined a host of new efforts and programs.
Last year, NFPA’s Wildland Fire Operations Division was formally established to develop targeted programs to reach everyone who designs, plans and develops our communities. And NFPA recently opened an office in Colorado that provides an important point of contact for the western half of the United States.
“Most of you recognize NFPA’s Firewise Communities Program as a major resource for safeguarding people and property against the threat of home losses due to brush, grass, and forest fires,” said Mr. Shannon. “This year, I am proud to announce that our Firewise Communities/USA Recognition Program celebrates its 10th anniversary. What started as a 12 community pilot program has now grown to almost 750 communities in 40 states.”
To support the Firewise program, NFPA has hired six regional advisors who will work to encourage the work of current recognized communities, and help new communities become official recognized Firewise sites.
Mr. Shannon talked about the development of a new “Fire Adapted Communities” program, the result of a Congressional act that called for a cohesive strategy for mitigating, as opposed to merely suppressing, wildland fires. Through a partnership with the U.S. Forest Service, NFPA is overseeing the creation of the program and related website, due to launch next spring. Providing guidance and content is a coalition of eight organizations, including the U.S. Fire Administration, International Association of Fire Chiefs, and the National Association of State Foresters.
NFPA also continues to broaden its research capabilities and knowledge base about wildland fires, recently publishing a data report that examined brush, grass, and forest fires that occur across the United States. In addition, the Fire Protection Research Foundation, an NFPA affiliate, is overseeing a research project on the use of regulations and planning tools designed to reduce wildland fire risk.
“As we move forward, NFPA, the Wildland Fire Operations Division and Firewise program staff will focus our efforts on developing new and innovative programs that provide our audiences with resources and the latest information,” said Mr. Shannon. “We will continue to work with our partners to help facilitate an open dialogue on nationally-accepted standards for evacuation procedures in wildfire risk areas. And we will strive to improve statistical information on wildland fires and home losses and develop new solutions by learning from the past.”
“There is still much work to be done,” he said. “All of us here today play a huge role in protecting our communities from the threat of wildfires. By working together, we can take giant leaps forward in tackling our world’s wildfire problem.”