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2011 webThe National Fire Protection Association’s (NFPA) Wildland Fire Operations Division is pleased to announce that Hylton Haynes has joined us as an Associate Project Manager in the Firewise Communities Program. He’ll be working with the Firewise team on an array of activities, including outreach to state and local governments and residents on wildfire safety issues.

As the Firewise program manager, being able to expand our Firewise team is wonderful, and Hylton’s skills and experience will help us greatly in furthering our wildfire safety mission.

Hylton comes to us from the New England Forestry Foundation, and prior to that from the Commonwealth of Virginia, where he served as an area forester, a forest engineer, and a forestry supervisor. He is originally from South Africa and holds degrees from Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University, Stellenbosch University, and Virginia Polytechnic Institute & State University. Hylton also has extensive wildland firefighting experience and has succeeded in earning several national-level firefighting qualifications.

Please join our Division in welcoming Hylton to NFPA!

-Michele Steinberg

I'm very excited to have the opportunity to speak to participants at the upcoming Fire & Life Safety Conference next month in Orlando, Florida. This is just the second time that NFPA has sponsored this broad-ranging set of sessions aimed at fire and life safety professionals who want to know the latest and greatest in applying NFPA codes, standards and guidance.

I hope you'll join me and take advantage of the amazingly affordable hotel rates at the Hilton at Walt Disney World. NFPA's found one of the most attractive venues in the nation for one of its premier educational opportunities. And besides getting to go to Florida in December, I am truly thrilled to be able to talk to conferees about NFPA's standards on wildfire safety as they apply to structures and infrastructure.

If you follow this blog at all, you know that Firewise is NFPA's wildfire safety education program. What you may not know is that a complimentary set of standards exist to support wildfire safety in rural and suburban communities and to create an enforceable method of constructing new homes to resist wildfire damage.  NFPA 1141 deals with the built environment and fire protection infrastructure. Jurisdictions that apply this standard have a great opportunity to build subdivisions and towns that are "safer from the start" with regard to protection from wildfire and other emergencies.

NFPA 1144 allows for the application of the principles of Firewise construction, wildfire hazard evaluation methodology, and property maintenance that will be very familiar to Firewise advocates everywhere. Communities can use this standard to create a baseline for safety in new construction as well as a useful method for assessing existing risks. It is the basis for the information taught in NFPA's "Assessing Wildfire Hazards in the Home Ignition Zone" seminar.

Randy Bradley, chief of the Moraga-Orinda Fire Department in the East Bay area of California and the chair of NFPA's Technical Committee on Forest & Rural Fire Protection, will present along with me. Don't miss this opportunity to learn how NFPA's standards on wildland fire safety can be applied in your jurisdiction. Register today at

--Michele Steinberg 

Steiner Ranch
When tragedy occurs in the wildland-urban interface, it often starts dialog that moves things in the right direction.  This past Labor Day, wildfires destroyed 23 homes in Steiner Ranch, Texas and prompted the community to take action.

Austin’s reported that just days after the fires, residents began clearing brush and debris from wooded areas behind their properties.  However, their mitigation activities came to an abrupt halt when they found the land was federally protected to conserve the habitat of an endangered bird species.

Community members were determined to find a solution and reached out to the Travis County Natural Resources Department, Lake Travis Fire Rescue, Travis County Precinct 2 and the City of Austin to combat Steiner Ranch’s wildfire problem.  Together, they formed the Steiner Ranch Wildfire Planning Group. 

The group met over a period of two months on how to mitigate areas without infringing on the bird’s habitat and eventually continued their clearing work with the approval of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Steiner Ranch held a community work day on Nov. 12 where 40 residents joined Lake Travis Fire Rescue and Travis County Natural Resources workers to pick up brush and branches in the preserve land beyond the homeowner’s backyards.

 Lake Travis Fire Rescue assistant fire chief John Durham noted the goal of the work day was to attain a 30-foot defensible space that reduces the risk of wildfire spreading to the home.  He said the wildfire prevention efforts in Steiner Ranch are in the “first stages” and are gaining momentum.  

 “Eventually what we want to do is some more of this in other areas, neighborhoods and communities adjoined to the preserve area.  We hope this work can ease into more comprehensive work later on down the road.”

Review how your community can work together to safeguard homes and property from wildfire by checking out the Firewise website today.

Firebreak November 2011 issueThe November issue of Fire Break, NFPA's monthly e-newsletter about wildland fires, is now available. Some of our great wildland fire news features include:

  • Highlights and a recap of the Backyards & Beyond Wildland Fire Education Conference in Denver
  • Information for landscape architects, designers and planners on growing a Firewise yard and garden
  • A link to the recent Firewise webinar presentation
  • The sobering news on the damage embers cause to homes during a wildfire
  • A call for members for three wildland fire technical committees

Sign up today! It's free, informative and will keep you up to date on the latest news and information on mitigating your wildfire risk to take back to your communities, organization or fire house.


With more than 50 presentations over 5 subject tracks, participants at NFPA's Backyards & Beyond conference last month in Denver had a lot to choose from. presenters were able to share their slides with us, and you can now find them on the Firewise website.



Sessions covered a wide range of topics, from floods following fires in Arizona, to challenges for rural communities in British Columbia, to a technical overview of ignition resistant building materials.

NFPA has also pulled together all the coverage from the conference on the Firewise website, including session blog posts, photos and video testimonials from participants. Check it out to see what you might have missed!

 --Michele Steinberg

Fire ex demo with smoke
The town of Ryderwood in Washington may be a small retirement community, but its residents are out to prove that older adults can be Firewise, too.

The newly designated Firewise community kicked off their Firewise Week on Oct. 1 as volunteers went home-to-home clearing brush, trimming bushes and hauling debris to designated areas for pick-up.  The work was done in preparation for the town’s Fall Chipper Day on Oct. 6, where a chipper went around picking up excess brush and wood debris.

Ryderwood resident Gayle Ehlman noted that the clean-up day was a success as it increased awareness of wildfire mitigation and helped residents who were not physically able to trim bushes or rake property.  “[Before Firewise,] we didn’t see the problems,” Gayle writes.  “Now we do, and can take action to remove them.”

Find out more about the Firewise Community of Ryderwood and their partnership with Habitat for Humanity which allows for the continued success of both groups

At our recent Backyards & Beyond Conference in Denver, many attendees expressed an interest in participating on one of NFPA’s technical committees. We’re happy to report three of our wildland fire technical committees are currently seeking members to help in the development and revision of NFPA standards. The following committees are accepting applications:

The Committee on Forest and Rural Fire Protection is seeking members in all interest categories except Special Experts. This Committee is responsible for:

  • NFPA 1141, Standard for Fire Protection Infrastructure for Land Development in Wildland, Rural and Suburban Areas
  • NFPA 1142, Standard on Water supplies for Suburban and Rural Fire Fighting
  • NFPA 1143, Standard for Wildland Fire Management
  • NFPA 1144, Standards for Reducing Structure Ignition Hazards from Wildland Fire
  • NFPA 1145, Guide for the Use of Class A Foams in Manual Structural Fire Fighting
  • NFPA 1150, Standard on Foam Chemicals for Fires in Class A Fuels

The Committee on Professional Qualifications—Wildfire Sup¬pression Professional Qualifications is seeking members in all categories except Special Experts. This Committee is responsible for:

  • NFPA 1051, Standard for Wildland Fire Fighter Professional Qualifications

The Committee on Wildland Fire Fighting Protective Clothing and Equipment is seeking members in all interest categories. This Committee is responsible for:

  • NFPA 1977, Standard on Protective Clothing and Equipment for Wildland Fire Fighting

Interested in serving on one of these committees or on any other NFPA technical committee? Check out NFPA’s website for further information and to download a technical committee application. The application deadline is December 30, 2011.

Society of American ForestersCoinciding with what is shaping up to be the worst wildfire season on record, the United Nations declared 2011 as the International Year of Forests to raise awareness and strengthen sustainable forest management, conservation and development. 

In an effort to inform and educate local and state forestry officials about Firewise principles and resources, Associate Project Manager Cheryl Blake hosted a Firewise exhibit at the 2011 Society of American Foresters National Convention in Honolulu, Hawaii.  Hawaii also happens to have one of the over 740 recognized Firewise sites in the U.S.:  Kohala By The Sea, Kamuela, a recognized member since 2004.

Those working in forestry management at the federal, state and local level as well as researchers, educators and students took part in over 250 educational sessions on the topics of forest management, research, training, adaptive techniques and geospatial technologies.  Keynote speakers included Nainoa Thompson, Chairman of the Polynesian Voyaging Society, and Thomas Tidwell, Chief of the US Forest Service.  Thompson spoke about Polynesian voyaging traditions and their connection to conservation in his address, “The Voyage Always Brings Us Home,” and Tidwell spoke about the importance of collaboration in tackling the climate change problem in national forests during his presentation, “International Year of Forests: Linking Local, Regional, and Global Solutions.” 

For more information about how your community can become a recognized site and to see those in your area, check out the Firewise website.     

Fresh from NFPA’s recent Backyards & Beyond Wildland Fire Education Conference in Denver, Michele Steinberg, Firewise program manager, and Faith Berry, Southwest 1 Regional Firewise Advisor, headed to San Diego to man the Firewise booth at the 2011 American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) Conference in San Diego. Participants including landscape architects and students, product manufacturers and many others took turns visiting the Firewise booth to inquire about the kinds of materials, plants and foliage that can be applied to Firewise construction, safety signage and property design.

Landscape architects, designers and planners have long played an important role in helping protect homes against a wildfire threat. Important research continues to inform landscaping decisions so that designers and homeowners can feel confident about creating Firewise gardens and yards. 

Located at booth #2840, Michele and Faith are giving away great Firewise gifts including luggage grabbers, pens, post-it notes and heavy-duty garden gloves. Stop by the booth today from 9 a.m. -5 p.m. Pacific time.  And check out the Firewise website to learn about additional Firewise resources for landscapers, developers and designers, including local plant lists and a Safer From the Start DVD, that influence the way landscapers design properties to improve a home’s ability to withstand wildfire.

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