Recent tornadoes heighten regional community interest in Firewise principles

Blog Post created by laurenbackstrom Employee on Mar 26, 2012


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

-Todd Chlanda