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2011

WildfireMany year-end reports for 2011 have been issued detailing the losses from 2011 disasters – including wildfire, flood, hurricane, earthquake, tornado and other natural hazard events.  What stands out with 2011 is the tremendous cost that homeowners, government agencies, and insurance companies had to bear.  Predictably, however, I pay most attention to the wildfire summaries.  And I found that one recent report, “Natural Hazard Risk Summary and Analysis,” was particularly good at summing up the wildfire activity and damage in the U.S. The report was produced by CoreLogic’s Spatial Solutions division, and included this information as part of their research:

  • While the 2011 wildfire season continued the trend of having fewer but larger wildfires, there was a significant geographic shift in home losses over the past year from California, which had a cooler and wetter-than-average fire season, to the drought-affected states of Texas, New Mexico and Oklahoma.
  • In May, the largest fire in Arizona history, the Wallow fire, forced thousands of resident evacuations and burned more than 469,000 acres.
  • Texas and Oklahoma experienced a record number of wildfires. The Bastrop fire in Texas alone resulted in more than 1,600 homes and structures destroyed and 34,000 acres burned.
  • Wildfire trends indicate that wildfire activity often follows a cyclical pattern of increase and decrease due to changing seasonal weather patterns. Based on this, parts of California are expected to see a dramatic increase in wildfire acreage next year.
  • Persistent and intensifying drought conditions forecast for a large section of the U.S. for the coming year is expected to intensify and spread wildfire activity in early 2012.

You’ll notice that the last two bullets make predictions for 2012.  I can’t imagine anyone is excited to read these predictions, but it does effectively underscore our industry’s mantra: “It’s not if, but when.”  This gives us all the more reason to keep our families and property safe in the New Year by following Firewise principles and learning more about becoming a Fire Adapted Community.  We look forward to providing you with wildfire safety information and tips in 2012 and wish you a Happy New Year!

 -Molly

Day 12: George Crowder of the Federal Fire Deparment in Hawaii says to inspect your yard for dead leaves, branches and debris.

 

Download our “12 Days of Firewise” wildfire safety tip sheet and view the videos (look for a new one each day) on the website or right here on the blog, which provide easy steps you can follow as you string up the lights and deck the halls this holiday season and throughout the year.

Day 11: Battalion Chief Neil Fujioka recommends checking the Firewise plant list to keep plants happy all year round.

 

Download our “12 Days of Firewise” wildfire safety tip sheet and view the videos (look for a new one each day) on the website or right here on the blog, which provide easy steps you can follow as you string up the lights and deck the halls this holiday season and throughout the year.

Day 10Firewise Northeast Advisor Heidi Wagner reminds homeowners to move firewood away from the house when fire danger is high.

 

Download our “12 Days of Firewise” wildfire safety tip sheet and view the videos (look for a new one each day) on the website or right here on the blog, which provide easy steps you can follow as you string up the lights and deck the halls this holiday season and throughout the year.

Day 9Firewise Central Regional Advisor Todd Chlanda gives some Firewise tips for open burning.

 

Download our “12 Days of Firewise” wildfire safety tip sheet and view the videos (look for a new one each day) on the website or right here on the blog, which provide easy steps you can follow as you string up the lights and deck the halls this holiday season and throughout the year.

FireBreak1211The December issue of Fire Break, NFPA's monthly e-newsletter about wildland fires, is now available. Some of our news features include:

  • the winter 2011 edition of the Firewise “How To” newsletter for homeowners
  • information about our newest member of the team, Hylton Haynes
  • an update on the Fire Adapted Communities initiative
  • the “12 Days of Firewise” holiday tip sheet and videos
  • a recap of our meetings with international wildfire organizations

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.

Day 8: Firewise Southwest Advisor Keith Worley says some communities need to be aware of "red flag warnings." 

 

Download our “12 Days of Firewise” wildfire safety tip sheet and view the videos (look for a new one each day) on the website or right here on the blog, which provide easy steps you can follow as you string up the lights and deck the halls this holiday season and throughout the year.

Day 7Firewise Northwest Regional Advisor Gary Marshall advises to clear snow from around fire hydrants.

 

Download our “12 Days of Firewise” wildfire safety tip sheet and view the videos (look for a new one each day) on the website or right here on the blog, which provide easy steps you can follow as you string up the lights and deck the halls this holiday season and throughout the year.

Day 6: Firewise Central Regional Advisor Todd Chlanda says it's important to make sure your chimney is cleaned every year.

 

Download our “12 Days of Firewise” wildfire safety tip sheet and view the videos (look for a new one each day) on the website or right here on the blog, which provide easy steps you can follow as you string up the lights and deck the halls this holiday season and throughout the year.

Day 5: Firewise Northwest Regional Advisor Gary Marshall tells homeowners how to properly dispose of ashes from the fireplace.

 

Download our “12 Days of Firewise” wildfire safety tip sheet and view the videos (look for a new one each day) on the website or right here on the blog, which provide easy steps you can follow as you string up the lights and deck the halls this holiday season and throughout the year.

Day 4: Looking for gifts for a special someone? Firewise Northeast Advisor Heidi Wagner and Southwest Advisor Keith Worley suggest garden tools.

 

Download our “12 Days of Firewise” wildfire safety tip sheet and view the videos (look for a new one each day) on the website or right here on the blog, which provide easy steps you can follow as you string up the lights and deck the halls this holiday season and throughout the year.

At NFPA's Fire & Life Safety Conference in Orlando in December, NFPA's Michele Steinberg, Project Manager for the Firewise Communities program, talked about lessons learned from the devastating wildland fire seaso, including new research on how homes are burning down, and better ways to communicate safety messages to homeowners who live in the wildland urban interface.

RELATED

NFPA JournalA special issue of NFPA Journal® is devoted to the wildland fire problem. Read about NFPA’s role in teaching homeowners, builders, firefighters, and community leaders how to prepare homes to resist ignition from wildland fire, new international initiatives, the environmental impact of wildland fires, and a look at the NFPA codes and standards that deal with the wildland urban interface.

NFPA’s Firewise Communities program encourages local solutions for wildfire safety by involving homeowners, community leaders, planners, developers, firefighters, and others in the effort to protect people and property from wildfire risks.

NFPA along with the U.S. Forest Service and a coalition of wildland fire safety agencies, are collaborating to develop a new Fire Adapted Communities program. The effort members will help communities understand and accept their wildfire risk and take pro-active steps to improve the safety and resilience of their homes, landscapes, infrastructure and community assets.

 

In September, NFPA Fire Service Specialist Ryan Depew traveled to central Texas, where he participated in structure fire investigations related to the Bastrop County Complex Fire, which had destroyed more than 1,500 homes.

Day 3: Hylton Haynes, project manager, Firewise Communities Program, gives a couple of simple tips for hanging stockings or other decorations on the fireplace mantel.

 

Download our “12 Days of Firewise” wildfire safety tip sheet and view the videos (look for a new one each day) on the website or right here on the blog, which provide easy steps you can follow as you string up the lights and deck the halls this holiday season and throughout the year.

This time of year our thoughts turn to decorations, lights and Christmas trees, and not so much about brush, grass and forest fires. But this year’s extensive fire season and the latest predictions for 2012 remind us that wildfire can happen almost anytime, almost anywhere.

Download our “12 Days of Firewise” wildfire safety tip sheet and view the videos (look for a new one each day) on the website or right here on the blog, which provide easy steps you can follow as you string up the lights and deck the halls this holiday season and throughout the year.

Day 2:  Firewise Central Regional Advisor Todd Chlanda says a good time to check your gutters is while you're putting up holiday lights.

 

This time of year our thoughts turn to decorations, lights and Christmas trees, and not so much about brush, grass and forest fires. But this year’s extensive fire season and the latest predictions for 2012 remind us that wildfire can happen almost anytime, almost anywhere.

Download our “12 Days of Firewise” wildfire safety tip sheet and view the videos (look for a new one each day) on the website or right here on the blog, which provide easy steps you can follow as you string up the lights and deck the halls this holiday season and throughout the year.

Day 1: Firewise Northwest Regional Advisor Gary Marshall reminds homeowners to make sure your house number is still visible after you decorate outside.

 

<span style="font-weight: normal; font-size: small;">The Bastrop County Sheriff’s Department has released hours of dramatic raw footage captured on patrol car cameras. They show deputies and police frantically going door to door trying to evacuate people in the path of a devastating wildfire. View the full article and watch the video on FireRescue1.&#0160;</span>

 

 

!http://nfpa.typepad.com/.a/6a00d8351b9f3453ef015393e7c6dc970b-450wi|src=http://nfpa.typepad.com/.a/6a00d8351b9f3453ef015393e7c6dc970b-450wi|alt=Bastrop Video|style=width: 450px;|title=Bastrop Video|class=asset asset-image at-xid-6a00d8351b9f3453ef015393e7c6dc970b!


 

The September wildfire destroyed more than 1,500 homes, consumed more than 34,000 acres and killed two people. For more details on the tragic event, recall our recent blog post, &quot;NFPA's Ryan Depew participates in Bastrop Wildfire post-fire review.&quot;</span></p>

McMurdo9_18_04
McMurdo Station in Antarctica doesn’t have a wildfire problem, but that doesn’t mean we should all move there, says blogger Molly Mowery.

Too often we refer to wildfire-prone communities as being the problem.  If they were only located somewhere else that didn’t burn then we wouldn’t have such disasters, right?  But when you stop and think about it, there are so many places around the planet that can or will burn, where would we go?  Perhaps Antarctica could become prime real estate...

In all seriousness, I think it’s important to acknowledge that we will continue to see people living in areas that are prone to grass, brush, and forest fires.  Period.  However, we know the tools to help communities become fire-adapted and it is more productive to focus on improving safety and protecting lives and property in these communities.  Recent conversations with international organizations have encouraged me that this community-minded approach is also gaining momentum around the globe.

Last month, for instance, NFPA coordinated a meeting with folks from Firewise Africa, the South African organization CapeNature, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, the UK Chief Fire Officers Association, and the Canadian Partners in Protection Association.  The agenda focused on common mitigation goals and potential ways to promote community based fire management across continents.  This conversation was just the beginning of what promises to be a productive working group that will engage and support future collaboration on wildfire mitigation and outreach.

I also had the opportunity to attend two separate conferences in Canada in November – the Canadian Institute of Forestry’s Rocky Mountain technical workshop in Edmonton, Alberta and Partners in Protection Annual General Meeting in Winnipeg, Manitoba.  My fellow presenters highlighted examples from communities around Canada, including the mitigation steps that the Peavine Metis Settlement (Alberta) has taken to find local solutions to address wildfire risk within this aboriginal community. Partners in Protection is also steadfastly developing a FireSmart community recognition program that promotes voluntary homeowner and neighborhood action.  This program will be very similar to the Firewise Communities/USA® Recognition Program, and NFPA is supporting Partners in Protection in this process. 

These recent conversations, presentations, and meetings remind me to re-frame the discussion.  Instead of looking from the outside on how I, as a technical practitioner, can fix the problem for other people, the real question remains focused on how can we support communities to collaborate and create solutions from within?  For more inspiration, check out our Firewise success stories, as well as Firewise community stories developed in South Africa.   

-Molly Mowery

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