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2012

In the wake of the much publicized Gulick family video that detailed their harrowing escape from the Lower North Fork wildfire in Colorado, CNN’s Brian Todd reached out to Greg Cade, NFPA’s Director of Government Affairs, and former United States Fire Administrator, to discuss the importance of evacuating early, and preparing your home ahead of a wildfire threat.

The interview, which aired last night on Wolf Blitzer’s Situation Room, highlighted the fact that being aware of the location of the fire and creating an evacuation plan ahead of time are the keys to getting out safely.

Todd went on to state that residents can also prepare their homes ahead of a wildfire, like creating defensible space, and cleaning up dead debris on the ground that turns into fuel for wildfires.

Residents can find more information about how to better safeguard their homes by visiting the “homeowners” section of the Firewise website.

Also check out the Firewise Communities Program which lists interactive modules that provide tips and resources on what to do when a wildfire is approaching your area, and IAFC’s Ready, Set, Go! program, that provides additional information about wildfire preparedness.  

WUI 2012
The annual Wildland Urban Interface (WUI) Conference, powered by the International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC), comes to a close at the end of today.   Presenters and attendees have gathered from around the world to discuss the many challenges associated with wildland fires in the WUI.  Pre-conference workshops, educational sessions, exhibits, and a field trip for Sand-Table Exercise have been taking place throughout the week.    

Industry professionals have provided information on the Home Ignition Zone Hazard Assessment, Fire Adapted Communities, Ready Set Go, Project Wildfire, and the National Cohesive Wildland Fire Management Strategy, to name just a few.  This is the premier event for emergency managers, fire service professionals, communities, and researchers to discuss issues surrounding wildland fire in WUI.  Be sure to keep an eye out for the announcement of the Wildland Urban Interface 2013 Conference in the near future. 

Check out this video to see an example of some of the information covered during the conference.

 

-Ryan Depew

http://www.nfpa.org/categoryList.asp?categoryID=2494&URL=Membership/Member%20Sections/Fire%20Service/Fire%20service%20video%20contest&cookie_test=1FF_Vid_Contest_300x250
The NFPA, IAFC and NVFC launched a new contest this week, asking career firefighters, volunteer firefighters or other fire department employees and fire service members to submit a video that highlights their fire company operationally demonstrating firefighter health and safety.

The Contest will utilize the theme of the National Volunteer Fire Council (NVFC) and International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC) combined International Fire/EMS Safety and Health Week, which will be June 17-23, 2012. This year’s theme will be “Rules You Can Live By.”

Members of the fire service can submit their company-level videos demonstrating the safe practices of any of the IAFC’s Rules of Engagement for Firefighter Survival and Incident Commanders and NVFC’s Rules of Engagement for Firefighter Health. While any of the Rules may be used as the subject of each video, the following are a focus for NFPA due to their ability to help in promoting an increased awareness of safety and health as we work to change the culture in the fire service as well as assist in our curriculum development. These rules are:

Safety:

  • Determine the occupant survival profile
  • Maintain continuous awareness of your air supply, situation, location and fire conditions
  • Ensure accurate accountability of every firefighter’s location and status

Health:

  • Take steps towards meeting NFPA health standards, such as NFPA 1500
  • Set S.M.A.R.T. goals for your health action plan – specific, measureable, attainable, realistic, and timely
  • Rehab after all physical activity – stay hydrated

All videos submitted, regardless of topic chosen, will be given equal weight during the judging process.

Videos (3 minutes or less) are to be submitted between March 26 and May 11. NFPA, IAFC and NVFC will choose four finalists, and the public will be permitted to vote for one video per day from May 18 – June 11. The Contest winner will be announced on June 12 during the Fire Service Section Reception at the 2012 NFPA Conference & Expo. All submissions will become the property of NFPA.

See the official rules.

The fire company that receives the most votes for their video will receive a set of the most up to date NFPA public fire protection standards. The fire company will also receive an Apple iPad and $250 iTunes gift card to be used for training purposes and access to NFPA mobile applications. In addition, representatives from NFPA will visit the winning fire department to present the prize and hold a press event garnering local media attention. 

North Fork Fire

In the last ten days, Colorado has witnessed several damaging wildfires in various areas of the state that, according to news reports, have burned nearly 30,000 acres—a number that continues to grow by the day—and to date have destroyed nearly two dozen homes and other structures. Our hearts go out to the Colorado residents affected by the Lower North Fork Fire near Conifer.

Currently, there are a number of states across the U.S., including Colorado, that are experiencing red flag warnings and high wildfire risk danger. The good news is, there are steps you can take to reduce wildfire risks to lives and property before a wildfire threatens your area.  More than 750 communities in the U.S. – including 35 in Colorado – have dramatically lowered their risk of wildfire damage by participating in the Firewise Communities/USA® Recognition Program. Learn more about how your community can get involved by visiting the Firewise website.

As you prepare your property for wildfire searson, consider the following simple steps you can take now to reduce the risk of your home and property from becoming fuel for a wildfire.

  • Clear      leaves and other debris from gutters, eaves, porches and decks. This      prevents embers from igniting your home.
  • Keep      your lawn hydrated and maintained.  Dry grass and shrubs are fuel for      wildfire.
  • Remove      fuel within 3-5 feet of your home’s foundation and out buildings including      garages and sheds.  If it can catch fire, don’t let it touch your      house, deck or porch.
  • Remove      dead vegetation surrounding your home, within the 30-100 foot area.
  • Wildfire      can spread to tree tops. If you have large trees on your property, prune      so the lowest branches are 6 to 10 feet high.
  • Don’t      let debris and lawn cuttings linger. Dispose of these items quickly to      reduce fuel for fire.
  • When      planting, choose slow-growing, carefully placed shrubs and trees so the      area can be more easily maintained.
  • Landscape      with native and less-flammable plants. Your state forestry agency or      county extension office can provide plant information.

For additional Firewise tips, or information about how to become an official Firewise site, contact your local Firewise state liaison or Firewise regional advisor. They are more than happy to answer any questions you have and provide the resources you need to help you get started. As always, NFPA’s Wildland Fire Operations Division staff wants to hear from you. Please don’t hesitate to contact us at our main headquarters in Quincy, MA or at our regional Denver office.

Do you live in or near Jefferson County, Colorado? Follow along with Jefferson County Sheriff's Office blog for updates on the Lower North Fork Fire

This past Friday (03/23/2012), Faith Berry (Firewise Advisor), Soledad Holguin (Bureau of Indian Affairs, Fire Prevention Specialist),  Jim Nanamkin (Bureau of Indian Affairs, Regional Wildfire Prevention Specialist ), Dell Ostenberg (Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation, Safety Officer) and I visited the LaJolla Band of Luiseńo Indians located 55 miles northwest of San Diego off Highway 76 in the Pauma Valley.  We met Adam Giesler, the Tribal Council Secretary, and discussed the Firewise Communities/USA® recognition program.  Adam went into great detail about all the wonderful work his Band has accomplished since the tragic Poomacha Fire of 2007 where 147 houses and 77 outbuildings were destroyed and took 19 days to contain. 

The biggest challenge this remote community faced was the fact that there were several other conflagration events taking place simultaneously, and federal and state resources were assigned to other areas during the course of the firefight. Adam and Soledad went on to describe the events of the fire and how the tribal elders protected several cultural sites on a nearby ridge.  Adam told us how 3 days after the main flame front had moved through the community, houses that were initially thought to have been saved, burned down due to secondary ember exposure. 

Subsequent to these harrowing events, the Reservation has undertaken a number of projects that included improving emergency response systems, hardening and creating defensible space around homes and installing a fuel break on their southern boundary.  Even though the Reservation has done a lot of fuel mitigation, Adam acknowledged that moving forward, getting recognized as a Firewise/Community USA would be an important tool for them to sustain the effort and remind tribal members of their responsibilities.  Adam said that his community needs to prepare for the next event knowing full well that they probably will be on their own again.  Jim Namankim went on to say that the federally-funded fuel break gave the community a false sense of security and in the event of another conflagration event, embers can still travel more than 1 mile.  Jim went on to say that the application of Firewise principles in and around the home ignition zone was critical to the structure survivability should another event like the Poomacha fire take place again.

Upon leaving the La Jolla Indian Reservation we were able to provide Adam with copies of the Getting Started with Firewise Kits  and some other fire prevention material that was produced specifically by NFPA’s Public Education Division High-Risk Outreach Programs for the aging Native American population and donated materials from Amerind Risk Management Corporation that provided First Peoples Program CD’s focused on K1-2 youth fire prevention.  Adam indicated that he was not only going to promote the idea with his Tribal Council, but he has gained trust and direct contact with 16 other Tribal Leaders within the region.  My hope is that Faith will get invited back to present materials on how to become a recognized Firewise community and will be given the opportunity to facilitate the application process.  All in all, it was a very interesting and productive meeting.  

-Hylton Haynes

Pocono Homeowners Assoc

April 27, 2009 Brush fire north of Coolbaugh Township, Keith R. Stevenson/Pocono Record

The Pocono Mountains of north-eastern Pennsylvania encompass the Delaware State Forest, six designated natural areas, seven state parks and a national park preserve. This area of natural beauty has long been an escape for newlyweds and vacationers. Nestled among the scenic vistas are numerous homeowner associations.

In early March, I met with Levi Gelnett, Wildfire Prevention Specialist of the PA Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, to discuss these communities, which are situated in this natural, fire-prone area. Brush fires ignite annually in this scrub oak/timber fuel type. Every few years larger wildfires, from 1,000 to 2,000 acres, occur. From 2001- 2005, several of these homeowners associations, aware of their wildfire risk, became Pennsylvania Firewise Communities. Levi thought many of these associations might be interested in the national Firewise Communities/USA Recognition Program®, because of the opportunity to renew annually, which helps communities continually work towards reducing their vulnerability to wildfire.

I am pleased to report that after contacting these homeowner associations, nine have requested Firewise Communities/USA information to present to their boards. Two of these associations are ready to begin taking the steps to becoming official Firewise communities.  

If your community would like to get involved in Firewise activities, contact your state Firewise liaison or Firewise advisor for your area to help get your started. Our Firewise website also has plenty of tips and resources to help get you started.

-Heidi Wagner

Georgia
In the winter issue of the Firewise How To newsletter, Georgia Forestry Commission wildfire mitigation specialist Eric Mosley writes about how a Georgia-based Wildfire Prevention and Education Team used successful strategies for reaching out to residents about the pending fire season. Key strategies included

  • Developing target audiences
  • Conducting door-to-door literature distribution and discussions with residents
  • Identifying any special needs of local residents in escaping for or preparing for wildfire on their property
  • Reaching out to schools and churches
  • Working with local officials to hold meetings
  • Coordinating with public landowners' information officers for consistent messages

Earlier this year, the Team was re-activated to help alert residents of a new threat: dead and downed timber from the 2011 tornadoes in south Georgia that now present a huge amount of fuel for any potential wildfire. According to Mosley's reports, additional strategies the team used were to make the most of their time by using existing Firewise literature available at www.firewise.org/catalog and piggybacking the wildfire safety message onto existing events and meetings going on in the target communities.

Check out the Winter How To for more, and read Central Region Firewise Advisor Todd Chlanda's blog post about tornado damage and wildfire risk.

--Michele

Who can think of a better job than visiting four Firewise communities surrounded by snowcapped peaks?  On March 22, Jacob McCarthy, forester with the Granby District of the Colorado State Forest Service, and I traveled to his district meeting with our Firewise champions from the Pole Creek Meadows, Summit Estates, Highlands Estates and Shock Hill Firewise Communities.  We also met their local fire department partners in the East Grand County Fire Protection District #4, and Red, White & Blue Fire Protection District. 

We took a tour of each community to see all the great wildfire mitigation work they’ve done over the years.  The mountain pine beetle epidemic hit these communities hard.  In most cases, they lost 80-90% of their lodgepole pines.  Standing dead trees were everywhere around them.  The fuel loading was extreme.  It was amazing to see how they partnered with their local fire departments and natural resource managers to reduce the wildfire hazard, while promoting a new, and more wildfire resistant forest for the future.  All were proud to report a high level of participation by their neighbors.

When I asked the fire departments if their opinion had changed about the defensibility of the communities, both reported firefighter safety, previously an issue, had been addressed.  And, now they have a chance to save more homes where no firefighter dared go before.

Firefighters can learn more about Firewise principles, safety training, and tips on how to work with your community to become safer from wildfire. Check out the “firefighter” section on the Firewise website.

Other resources are available through the Firewise online catalog including a

“Wildfire: Preventing Home Ignitions” DVD.

Videos related to firefighter safety in the WUI can be found on the “information and resources” section of the website.   

-Keith Worley

Keith Blog 1

East Grand County Fire Protection District representatives (Dennis, Todd and John) with Pete Peterson (second from left), Pole Creek Estates Firewise Community, and Jacob McCarty (center), CSFS

Keith Blog 2

Matt Benedict, Capt., Paul Kuhn, Deputy Chief of Red, White & Blue Fire Protection District with Bill Statz, Summit Estates Firewise Community, and Jacob McCarthy, CSFS

Keith Blog 3

Ted Lawson (left) and Gary Gallagher (second from right), Highlands Estates Firewise Community with Red, White & Blue FPD and CSFS reps.

Keith Blog 4

Matt Benedict, Red, White & Blue FPD, John Quigley, Shock Hills Firewise Community, and Jacob McCarthy, CSFS Granby District

All Photos by Keith Worley.  Taken 3-22-2012.

Bigbendroad

I recently read this account of a brush fire in the Tampa Bay area that spread to homes. My first thought was, "Clean your roofs and gutters, folks!"

With wildfire season well underway in Florida, it's important to be safety conscious and not cause fires to start. But chances are, many residential areas will see fires nearby during this very dry and windy period in the Sunshine State. No matter what the cause, there are simple things that almost any homeowner can do to make sure their home doesn't fall victim to brush fire flames - like cleaning roofs and gutters of debris.

Many times when homes ignite during wildfires, it's because embers land on roofs and gutters filled with pine needles or leaf litter. That couple of hours you take to do simple cleanups could save your home and property from damage or destruction. Check out the Firewise Quiz to test your knowledge. Then check some of the tips and tools in the Homeowner area of the Firewise website. 

--Patrick Mahoney

Photo courtesy MyFox Tampa Bay

JoplinHighSchool

Joplin (Missouri) High School

Spring has arrived early this year and so have the damaging storms that come with Spring. Living in Joplin, Missouri, I am very familiar with the damage tornadoes can do.  Recently, the Midwest has been hit with several bouts of severe storms leaving behind damage to homes and creating tons of new fuel in the way of trees on the forest floor making the area susceptible to out of control wildland fires.

Early in March of 2012, several states in the Central Region were hit with deadly tornadoes. These included Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Ohio and most recently Michigan. These tornadoes tore a path through both rural areas as well as cities. Schools, homes and businesses were destroyed and so were the trees in the surrounding areas. This additional fuel loading on the forest floor can increase the size and severity of wildland fires in the near future. If the people in the damaged areas decide to burn the debris from the storms, and they get out of hand, these fires could cause even more damage and cost area emergency agencies even more money to control these fires.

To address some of these issues, I have been in contact with the Firewise liaisons from Indiana, Kentucky, Ohio and Michigan about the damage in their states. I have also been in contact with Russ Sanders, Central Region Director NFPA and Executive Secretary Metro Fire Chiefs Association, and Ronnie Day, Executive Director Kentucky Fire Commission. I have offered my assistance with educating the residents of these areas on wildland fire safety and how to make their homes more defensible against wildland fires.

For more information on defensible space and how to make your house more defensible against wildfires or how your community can become recognized as a Firewise Community, go to www.firewise.org

-Todd Chlanda

Pala CAPat Durland, Faith Berry and I are currently participating in the 2012 Interagency Wildland Fire Prevention, Education and Mitigation Conference that is happening in Pala, California.  The annual conference has been in existence for the past 20-25 years.  This year the conference was organized by Soledad Holguin of the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) and was attended by more than 100 people.  Jim Nanamkin (BIA Pacific Fire Prevention Officer) and two other Native American representatives opened the conference with a ceremonial blessing, which was a very special cultural experience for me, having been raised in South Africa. 

The purpose of the conference was to inform wildland fire professionals on many interdisciplinary topics related to wildland fire.  Guest speakers from as far afield as Idaho, Oregon and Northern California presented topics that included Fire Department Youth Educational Tours, Camp Smokey, Team teaching, Ready-Set-Go, Cultural Diversity and Cultural Fire Uses. 

There was keen interest in Pat’s one day Home Ignition Zone course. Interestingly, out of the 37 participants in the course, more than 15 were from the insurance industry. During the course of Pats’ presentation I had the opportunity to present information on our National Firewise program and give the audience an update on some of the happenings in NFPA. During lunch time, both Pat and I were interviewed by J. Harry Jones of the San Diego Union Tribune. Jay’s article was published in yesterday's newspaper. Margaret Grayson, Executive Director of the California Fire Safe Council was so excited about the article that she read the newspaper clipping to the conference participants! Additionally, Faith made a presentation on how to develop a Community Wildfire Protection Plan (CWPP).  During the course of Faith’s presentation she was able to communicate the differences between a HIZ assessment, community wildland risk assessment and CWPP.

During the course of this event we have been approached by several Fire Safe Council members, insurance professionals and wildland fire professionals seeking to learn more about Firewise Communities/USA.  Many connections were established and several ideas formulated.  It has been a very productive week here in sunny Pala, California.  

-Hylton Haynes

Firewise_Plants_Calendar_Contest

Congratulations to our 10 Firewise calendar photo contest winners! It was a hard choice; all of the photos showed great creativity! We received over 60 photos so we want to thank everyone who participated in the contest - we wish we could use them all!

Back in early February, NFPA asked photo enthusiasts to submit photographs of Firewise plants from around the country (and their own backyards). Winning entries would be used in the 2013 Firewise Calendar.

The calendar will serve as a resource for homeowners, landscapers, planners and others involved in home building and maintenance by highlighting a different plant, shrub or grass, along with its name, a description, growth pattern and area of origin from various regions across the country that can be used to both beautify a home’s landscape and help resist embers from a wildfire. 

The 2013 Firewise Plant Calendar contest winners are (two photos were selected from a few of the entrants):

  • Michieal      Abe
  • Ronald      Billings
  • Liron      Galliano
  • Jeannine      Giuffre
  • Mike      Kuhns
  • Audrey      Lawson
  • Kirsten      Lints
  • Jeffrey      McFarland
  • Richard      Nelson
  • Patricia      Peters

Congratulations again to all the winners, who will receive Amazon gift cards as a prize! 

Stay tuned for the final product later this year and be sure to order your free copy of the 2013 calendar through our catalog page!

http://ww.firewise.org/http://ww.firewise.org/http://ww.firewise.org/ EckleyCOThe recent fire in the small town of Eckley, in the state’s northeastern plains, highlights the threats to homes and property from wildfire in communities across Colorado. The lack of snowfall, coupled with higher-than-normal temperatures and high winds, lead experts to predict that Colorado’s wildfire season will be active and potentially dangerous.

Many local residents have already taken steps to reduce their wildfire risk in this wildfire season.  35 Colorado communities have participated for several years as Firewise Communities. A list of all Colorado Firewise-recognized sites can be found on the Firewise website.

A great reminder following this Colorado wildfire is that wildfire doesn’t have to burn everything in its path. In fact, cleaning your property of debris and maintaining your landscaping are important first steps. Below are a few additional actions you can take to reduce the risk of your home and property becoming fuel for a wildfire:

  • Clear leaves and other debris from gutters, eaves,      porches and decks. This prevents embers from igniting your home.
  • Create a “fire-free” area within five feet of the home,      using non-flammable landscaping materials such as rocks, pavers and/or      high-moisture content annuals and perennials.
  • Remove dead vegetation from under your deck and within      10 feet of the house.

For more tips on how to keep your family safe and reduce your home’s risk for wildfire damage, please read the full press release.

FireBreak March
The March issue of Fire Break, NFPA’s wildland fire newsletter, is available for viewing. In this issue you’ll find:
  • A link to the spring edition of the “How To” newsletter
  • A link to our new Firewise Quiz
  • Details about a recent Firewise state visit to Arizona  
  • Information about the environmental factors that experts say are partly responsible for the country’s largest wildfires
  • An article that tackles the question: Does regulation work in the WUI?

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.

Lakeside AZ
Arizona has suffered disastrous effects from some of the worst wildfires they’ve seen in the past 10 years. Lakeside, Arizona is taking precautionary measures to help prevent such damage in the future.  Photo from Ahwatukee Foothills News

One of the hardest lessons to learn during a wildfire is that firefighters cannot be everywhere and save every home. To this end, one Arizona community took responsibility for making their own homes as fire-resistant as possible. Working with their local fire department, the neighborhood of Lakeside developed a strategy to combat the imminent threat that this year’s wildfire season presents, and includes the implementation of the International Association of Fire Chief’s (IAFC) Ready, Set, Go! (RSG) Program.

Read the full story about Lakeside and the steps they took to become a recognized Firewise community.

For more information about Firewise and our Firewise Communities/USA Recognition Program visit our website.

Have a success story to share? Send us your information and be the next community we highlight!

Picture 055

 

Picture 054

Earlier this month, I, along with approximately 20 wildfire safety advocates from all corners of the State of Oregon, participated in an all day workshop to assist Oregon State University (OSU) with the development of an innovative program called the “Citizens Fire Academy” (CFA).

During the workshop, participants worked together to 1) address important problems or needs, 2) determine if the program can realistically train and manage a cadre of volunteers, and 3) outline meaningful and measurable outcomes of the program.

The ultimate goal of this program is to create fire adapted communities, and the key objective is to get wildland/ urban interface (WUI) landowners to take responsibility for themselves and their homes, thus preparing their properties for wildfire.  OSU believes this can be accomplished through a combination of technical and financial assistance, outreach and education, and regulation. As we all know, financial resources for fire suppression and fuels reduction are limited and in some cases, decreasing.  OSU believes trained volunteers can provide important contributions to outreach and education.

You may be asking if such a program exists elsewhere. While similar programs do exist throughout the U.S., we were unable to locate the exact same fire prevention model. The closest model we found was the Master Gardner Program Model at OSU, which offers quality informative wildfire safety education to citizens and in exchange, these citizens return to their community or be assigned to another location to assist residents and to promote wildfire safety projects. 

Our workshop group, led by OSU faculty, broke out into four groups to identify the needs, and actions and outcomes of the Citizen Fire Academy.  Group leaders summarized their ideas and thoughts and then posted them in front of the classroom to elicit discussion from the participants.

There are still some challenges to be addressed, the biggest being convincing others that wildfires are and will continue to be a huge threat to many communities, but we’re confident the message will resonate.  

Next steps for future involvement and sustainability of the program are underway, and we’re excited about attending future meetings to further establish this Citizen Fire Academy concept. Stay tuned here for additional updates.

In the meantime, Oregon State University has an extension program that addresses many aspects of wildfire. Check out their website to learn more. 

-Gary Marshall

WGAWorkshop
Are you a Firewise community representative? The Western Governors' Association invites you to participate in a National Cohesive Wildland Fire Management Strategy Workshop at the IAFC Wildland/Urban Interface Conference at the Grand Sierra Hotel in Reno, Nevada, on Tuesday, March 27, 2012 from 10 a.m. -- 1:30 p.m. The Stakeholder Workshop is free and open to the public.

The Stakeholder Workshop will feature a discussion of collaborative landscape forest restoration projects currently operating under the Collaborative Forest Landscape Restoration Program (CFLRP), which serve as examples of holistic programs that meet the goals and objectives of the Cohesive Wildland Fire Management Strategy. These projects are aimed at improving forest health and resilience, while at the same time reducing the threat of wildfire to communities, and reducing the cost of fighting wildfires in the project areas - the three goals of the Cohesive Strategy.

Participants will be updated on Phase III of the Cohesive Strategy and will have an opportunity to network with Cohesive Strategy leaders and partners at a networking reception.

Some topics to be discussed include:

  • Encouraging collaborative approaches to landscape management
  • Conducting effective education and outreach
  • Using active vegetation management tools and techniques
  • Supporting working forests and wildlands, local economies and job creation, and diverse products and markets.

All forest stakeholders are encouraged to attend. If you are interested in participating in this workshop, please contact Eden Koljord, WGA Workshop Coordinator, at 928-266-6237or ekoljord@yahoo.com  for more information and to register for the workshop.

--Michele

For Rimrock West Blog
The residents of Rimrock West in Oregon have known for a while that they were at a high risk for wildfire, yet they lacked the technical expertise that would be required to help fix their situation. So, they turned to their local, state and federal fire agencies for help. As a result, Oregon’s Department of Forestry conducted a fire safety assessment of every single property within Rimrock West.

“Ninety-one percent of Rimrock West properties now meet Firewise standards,” said the president of Rimrock Homeowner’s Association, Stephen Clark. “By any standard, this collaborative effort between the Oregon Department of Forestry, Bend Fire and Rescue BLM and our homeowners has been hugely successful.”

How were they able to do this? Rimrock West residents applied for their Firewise Community status and received a National Fire Plan $5,000 matching grant. The Homeowner’s Association will receive the grant at its annual meeting in March as well as recognition from the national Firewise Communities/USA® Recognition Program.

Want to learn more? Visit our Success Story page on our website to read the full story on Rimrock West, and the steps they took to become a recognized Firewise community.

For more information about Firewise and our Firewise Communities/USA Recognition Program visit our website. Have a success story to share? Send us your information and be the next community we highlight!

Name a simple household task that helps protect your home from wildfire. What serves as a pathway for fire to reach your house? What’s the definition of wildfire “fuel”? Test your wildfire safety knowledge in our latest, “Preparing Your Home for Wildfire Season” quiz and start using Firewise principles today.

The quiz ends May 9, 2012.

At the end of the quiz, share your results with us, and your neighbors. Work together now to help prepare your homes and community against a possible wildfire threat in the future.

Firewise Quiz
WUI Conference 2012
If you’re heading to Reno at the end of this month for the Wildland-Urban Interface 2012 conference, be sure to do two things:
  1. Stop by NFPA’s Firewise booth. Our staff will be there to say hello and answer any of your wildland-fire questions, as well as provide free Firewise materials to get your community ready for the next wildfire season.  The best time to stop by is during Tuesday’s welcome reception, and you’ll have the opportunity to network with a host of other WUI peers.
  2. Attend the “Fire Adapted Community Tools” session on Wednesday (11:00 am, Session 102).  I will be on a panel with Pam Leschak (U.S. Forest Service Fire Adapted Communities program manager) and Joe Stutler (Deschutes County, Oregon Forester).  We’ll tell you about the Fire Adapted Communities initiative, give a sneak peek of the forthcoming Fire Adapted Communities website, and show you firsthand how different communities are successfully taking steps toward becoming fire adapted.

Other conference highlights include a session on the historic 2010-11 Texas wildfire season and a reflection on past and future wildland fire challenges.  Additional session information is available here. More details can also be found on the conference website.

The International Association of Fire Chiefs puts on a well-organized and educational conference every year.  This is a great event for anyone interested in protecting local forests, learning about wildfire mitigation and suppression solutions, or educating landowners and your community about the importance of land management.  Looking forward to seeing you there!

-Molly Mowery

As a part of the National Cohesive Wildland Fire Management Strategy the wildland fire community is currently grappling with the monumental task of collecting and analyzing multi-jurisdictional fire reporting data. In order to better understand the national wildland fire risk management profile, two National Institute for Standards and Technology (NIST) economists, Douglas Thomas and David Butry recently published a research paper in the Journal of Forestry (January/February 2012)

The main goal of this paper was to study the economic impact of wildland fires within municipal jurisdictions.  The authors analyzed the US Fire Administration’s National Fire Incident Reporting System (NFIRS) fire incident data from 2002 to 2006.  Using a ‘national estimates methodology’ that was co-authored by NFPA’s John Hall, the authors calculated the annual average loss from wildland fire occurring within municipal jurisdictions to be $308 million (per year).  On average 116,971 wildland fire incidents per year were reported in this jurisdiction.  Each year these fires are responsible for, on average 15 civilian (non-fire service) fatalities, 88 civilian injuries, and 160 million in direct property losses.  It is important to note that these numbers do not include federal, state or tribal jurisdictions.  This research paper underscores the importance of NFIRS data and how it is a critical component to understanding the U.S. national wildland fire risk management profile.

 

Direct property losses

Graph: Direct property losses per year (Thomas & Butry, 2012)

-Hylton Haynes

APA
This year’s APA’s National Planning Conference on April 14 - 17 at the Los Angeles Convention Center is not to be missed. With four packed days of sessions, mobile and training workshops and special programs, the conference will see over 6,000 planners and planning officials come through the doors.

Join Molly Mowery, NFPA’s Wildland Fire Operations Division project manager on Saturday, April 14 as she presents,  “Wildfire Planning in the SoCal Hills” at 2:30 PM with Donald L. Elliott from Clarion Associates and Joshua S. Huntington, Sr. Planner from the Current Planning Division of Los Angeles County’s Department of Regional Planning. In this session, you’ll learn how planning and regulatory tools can reduce wildfire risk. You’ll also review the best practices from a national study on the effectiveness of wildfire hazard ordinances, and hear tips from a seasoned land use attorney on implementing wildfire regulations in your community.

Throughout the week, don’t forget to stop by the NFPA Firewise booth to talk with Michele Steinberg and Cheryl Blake about the Firewise Communities Program, and learn more about the latest Firewise products.

See a complete listing of programs, speakers and exhibitors on the APA website. We hope you will join us!

WUI Conference 2012
Each year, NFPA participates in the Wildland Urban Interface conference in Reno, Nevada for the opportunity to meet with fire chiefs and company officers, federal and state wildland fire agency personnel, wildland firefighters, fire marshals, land use planners and fire ecology researchers and analysts, all who join together to discuss problems and solutions related to the suppression, mitigation and education of today’s toughest challenges in the wildland-urban interface.

Pre-conference training and certification classes take place March 25 – 27, including NFPA’s “Assessing Wildfire Hazards in the Home Ignition Zone” workshop, taught by Pat Durland of Stone Creek Fire LLC. For details and to register, visit the conference webpage.

Molly Mowery, NFPA’s Project Manager, Pam Leschak, WUI Program Manager for the U.S. Forest Service and Joe Stutler, Chief County Forester for Deschutes County, will present “Fire Adapted Community Tools” on Wednesday, March 28th at 11:00 am. Join them as they discuss the Fire Adapted Communities (FAC) Initiative:  what it is, and how your community can create one.

You can also visit the NFPA Firewise Communities Program booth and visit staff in the exhibit hall starting Tuesday, March 27.

For the full schedule of events and registration information, download the WUI 2012 Conference brochure.  

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How do you determine the most effective way to create a message and inspire action, especially with a complex set of factors? 


 

Join NFPA and the Advertising Council at the rdIAWF’s 3<sup>rd</sup> Human Dimensions of Wildland Fire Conference in Seattle, April 16 – 20 to learn how they, along with the U.S. Forest Service and a coalition of wildfire safety organizations, are answering this question as they create a Fire Adapted Communities (FAC) media campaign and website.&#0160;


The session, held on Thursday the 19th

at 3:30 PM, will highlight the steps involved in creating effective&#0160; media tools and will provide an insider’s look into how collaboration between agencies translates into a public Fire Adapted Communities initiative . Audience members will also learn about resources such as the new FAC website and other media communications.


 

To see a list of the other wildland fire industry speakers, and for a full schedule of events , check out the program page of the IAWF website.


We hope to see you there!

 

As the NFPA Firewise Advisor for the Northwest, I was honored to participate in a recent meeting in Missoula, Montana with a group of Russian delegates who were visiting the U.S. as part of a multi-agency initiative, established by the USDA, and with support of the U.S. State Department, UDFS International Programs, Pacific Environment and the Wildlife Conservation Society, and other grassroots organizations in Russia. The initiative is aimed at improving the estimation of black carbon emission and transport from burning sources, and to facilitate technical cooperation and exchange between the U.S. and Russia to improve management of wildfire and agricultural burning.

As a part of the program, pilot projects are being implemented and aimed at reducing agricultural burning and wildfires in specific areas of Russia including Siberia and the Russian Far East.  These pilots are working to develop and utilize public outreach and education tools, to establish mobile fire brigades, and improve the enforcement of burning regulations. Working on behalf of NFPA and Firewise, I provided them with information about some of the work we do here at NFPA including our wildfire standards, our Firewise Communities Program, the Fire Adapted Communities initiative and IAFC’s Ready, Set, Go program.

Our discussions continued to confirm the fact that wildfire is a problem across the globe. Russia has many of the wildfire challenges we face, and are often based on location, demographics and culture.  The delegation told us that many people in Russia continue to remove vegetation by fire to create farmland; they do this because there is no cost to the farmer.  The U.S. has similar problems in agricultural communities where farmer’s burn fields after harvest and often these fires escape.  Russia also faces similar challenges in regards to the limited resources and shrinking crews available to combat fires. 

As our discussions turned to issues of wildfire safety, forest health, forest management, funding and reforestation, it really brought home for me the importance of continuing an open dialogue between high-risk wildfire countries, in addition to our continuing to find ways to develop new technology and incorporate it into wildfire safety practices.

W-KPAX Ch. 8 in Missoula covered the story. See the video.

NFPA is hard at work collaborating with international organizations to share best practices and lessons learned about wildfire and related safety practices. Read more about NFPA’s global partnerships and our outreach efforts in Molly Mowery’s blog, in her feature article, “World of Opportunity” in NFPA Journal’s  special wildland fire issue , and on our “Firewise Around the World” page on the Firewise website.

-Gary Marshall

Butte County
The Butte County Fire Safe Council is to offering its community members an educational presentation titled, “Why become a recognized Firewise Community.”  Neighborhoods, subdivisions, and small towns in the foothills of Butte County are at risk to wildfire.  The Firewise Communities/USA Recognition Program is a national program which helps communities address wildfire hazards.  Hundreds of communities throughout the United States have achieved Firewise Recognition.  Locally the Yankee Hill Fire Safe Council has maintained Firewise status for the past two years.  The Butte County Fire Safe Council invites people to come learn more about the program during an hour long presentation with Faith Berry (Firewise Regional Advisor) at the upcoming Butte County Fire Safe Council Board meeting.

The meeting will be held at the Town of Paradise Town Hall on Wednesday March 7th from 11:00-12:00pm.

The Butte County Fire Safe Council’s mission is to “provide wildfire safety in Butte County through education and hazard mitigation”.  The Council is a non-profit, public benefit corporation which formed in March of 1998 through community and agency collaboration. 

For more information please call 530-877-0984.

Edmond OK
In 2011, Edmond, OK received the award for “Most Outstanding Community in its Class,” an award they’ve won now five years in a row. In an effort to continue to build on its “most outstanding status” this year, firefighters will go one step further to work with community members through their Firewise outreach program and provide residents with safety information on wildfires.

According to Edmond’s Fire Maj. Kelly Lewis, he and other members of the Edmond fire Department are utilizing the knowledge of the Firewise program in order to help keep their “number one perfect suburb” that much safer from impending wildfire danger.

Visit our Success Story page on our website to read the full story about Edmond, Oklahoma, and the steps they took to become a recognized Firewise community.

More information about Firewise and our Firewise Communities/USA Recognition Program is available through our website.

http://www.iafc.org/http://www.nga.org/cms/home.html

IAFC

As the manager of the Wildland Fire Operations Division, I recently attended a Mass Evacuation Conference in Fairfax, Virginia along with colleagues, David G. Henry of the National Governors Association (NGA) and Ed Plaugher from the International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC). The purpose of the conference was to examine the mass evacuation landscape across the U.S., and included a special keynote address by new U.S. Fire Administrator Ernie Mitchell, Jr. Discussions included how agencies set standards, what current research and approaches are available, as well as how protocol for all disasters, including wildfire, and which varies from state to state, is currently followed.

 

NGA
NFPA's Orlando Hernandez, a Sr. Specialist in Emergency Services, along with IAFC's Shawn Stokes, Director of Wildland Fire Programs, provided a 360-degree view of the current Mass Evacuation situation. This  scenario-based activity provided participants an opportunity to analyze a mass evacuation scenario, and offer their professional insight into how they have responded (or would respond to a similar event in the future).

As you know, NFPA’s Wildland Fire Operations Division currently collaborates with IAFC and “Ready, Set, Go!”, a program which works in complimentary fashion with our Firewise Communities Program and other existing wildland fire public education efforts.  It utilizes firefighters to teach individuals who live in high-risk wildfire areas and the wildland/urban-interface (WUI) how to best prepare themselves and their properties against fire threats, including the steps they can take in an event of an evacuation during a wildfire threat. Together, representatives from IAFC, NGA and NFPA determined there is a need for a Mass Evacuation Project.  The question now is, how best can we develop this national Framework for Mass Evacuation, and implement it across the country.

There will certainly be more information on this topic. Stay tuned for updates!  

-Dave Nuss

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NFPA&#0160;is offering a Two-Day Assessing Wildfire Hazards in the Home Ignition Zone Workshop (HIZ) at several U.S. locations in 2012. The curriculum is aimed at fire service professionals, urban and state foresters, developers, community planners, insurance professionals and others who are committed to understanding and learning about ways to reduce losses from these fires, and increasing wildfire risk awareness among residents and communities.


 

As part of the two-day course, the HIZ workshop incorporates NFPA 1141 , Standard for Fire Protection Infrastructure for Land Development in Wildland, Rural and Suburban Areas and NFPA 1144 , Standard for Reducing Structure Ignition Hazards from Wildland Fire as the basis for assessing these hazards and recommending appropriate mitigation measures to reduce damage and losses of homes, developments, communities and subdivisions.</p>

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As the Firewise Advisor for the Southwest Region (1), I was heartened to hear that the town of Julian (about an hour outside of San Diego, CA) wanted to participate in wildfire safety mitigation activities and when they called for my assistance, I immediately sprang into action. Last Saturday, in collaboration with Julian’s local CAL Fire Station 50, I spent four hours completing initial wildfire safety assessments in the first of many neighborhoods who will get involved: &#0160;Kentwood. It was wonderful to see both the neighborhood residents and local CAL Fire Station firefighters working together.


 

Once they learned about their wildfire risks from the findings of the assessment, homeowners were pleased to discover there were many action items they could do right away to make their community safer, and most importantly, they said, they no longer felt helpless! As we’ve come to learn, becoming a Firewise recognized community has its benefits. We’ve put together a list of the top 7 that we’ve heard from people all across the country. Check out the Firewise website and its “Benefits” page to read more about them. Which ones do you identify with? I think the residents of Julian will agree that “Benefit #4” was a source of pride for them all:


 

<span style="text-decoration: underline;">Community-Building</span>+
</strong>As neighbors get together to do Firewise work, often meeting one another for the first time, they build a stronger bond with each other. Firewise activity can help rally people to a common cause for the good of the neighborhood. This strengthening of community ties can benefit residents in many ways, and is especially helpful during an emergency.+


What are the benefits you’re seeing from working together? I applaud the efforts of the residents of Julian and I hope to hear more about their efforts in the near future!


-[Faith Berry | mailto:firewisefaith@nfpa.org]

 

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