Where does Firewise Communities/USA® fit?

Blog Post created by hyltonhaynes Employee on Jan 9, 2013

After a year of travelling around the country discussing and promoting the Firewise Communities/USA® recognition program, I have often had to answer the following question:  ‘Where does the Firewise Communities/USA program fit in the grand scheme of things?’

After thinking about this question for some time I decided to create a simple diagram (see image 1) that would help provide some context and enhance my response when trying to explain the Firewise Communities/USA®recognition program to the audience that I serve. 

Conceptually the term I use to describe the diagram is the ‘WUI decision-making continuum’.  WUI administration at various scales spans the 'continuum'.  The left representing the community at large including the surrounding landscape (forest, grassland, and watershed) and the right focused solely on the individual building. As one scales up the WUI problem set the more complex the decision making becomes and vice versa; as one scales down the WUI problem set the less complex the decision making becomes resulting in the need for different ‘decision-making’ approaches that are designed to fit a specific WUI administration scale. The more right one goes along this continuum a more mechanistic decision-making approach to the WUI problem is appropriate; and the more left one goes a more holistic decision-making approach is appropriate. 

WUI DM_continuum
Image 1: WUI decison-making continuum: Fire Adapted Communities™; Firewise Communities/USA®; Firewise Principles; Fire Resistive Materials

In essence the Firewise Communities/USA® recognition program is designed to affect the decision-making process at the neighborhood or subdivision scale on through to the individual building scale and results in voluntary community action. 

The Fire Adapted Communities™ outreach initiative is broader in context and includes the whole ‘WUI decision-making continuum’. It is designed to not only encompass the Firewise Communities/USA® recognition strategy, but a whole host of other strategies like: Community Wildfire Protection Plans, Ready, Set, Go!, cooperative fire agreements, codes and ordinances, land management, local capacity building and fire prevention and education.

Although seemingly complicated all these strategies work together with one purpose in mind - to reduce the wildland fire burden across the United States.