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2013

In a recent New York Times article, Thin Snowpack in West Signals Summer of Drought, author Jack Healy paints a painful picture of what’s likely to come this spring and summer. According to the latest government assessments, more than half of the United States remains deep in drought, which makes climatologists and wildfire experts worried about another summer of damaging wildfire activity.

Minimal snowpack, higher temperatures and even less rain has made the situation so dire that Colorado Senators, Mark Udall and Michael Bennet and other members of Colorado’s Congressional delegation are seeking $20 million in emergency funds to help restore watersheds in the state crippled by the over 1,400 wildfires last year. The word is still out about whether help is on the way.

Blog
So while Colorado, like many other western states, are planning for the worst and fine-tuning its plans for combating wildfires this summer, what can we as residents do? Take action and do our part in helping to reduce the risk of damage these wildfires can cause.

Don’t know where to start?

Start small. NFPA’s Firewise Communities Program is a great way for homeowners and neighbors to work on projects around their homes and yards. The website provides easy-to-follow checklists and project ideas you can download and start using today. Got questions? Our Firewise regional advisors are a great resource for information about the program and who to contact in your local area.

Then think big. There are a number of ways an entire community can address wildfire safety. Our Fire Adapted Communities initiative focuses on bringing together not just homeowners but all members of a community to tackle this problem, including civic leaders, fire and emergency responders, and forest and land managers.

How can you do it? Begin by checking out the FAC websitethat provides contact information, program and project ideas from a coalition of wildfire experts dedicated to keeping residents safer from fire. Your community can start having these discussions now.

With fire season nearly upon us, it’s time to act. Everyone can and should get involved. Find out more about what you can do, and start making a difference today!

Not only does “wildland fire” fail to exclude urban homes from danger, but an overwhelming number of wildfires (brush, grass and forest fires) are caused by people to begin with. Fortunately, most of these are accidental; around 20% of human-caused wildfires are intentionally set.

EmbersTaking care when getting rid of hot embers, ash or cigarettes – and not just flinging them toward the nearest clump of dry, flammable grass – will help ensure that your home is not one of the 350,000 or so wildland fires that fire departments respond to annually.

Visit the Firewise Toolkitfor more information on the causes of and approaches to wildfires.

 

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There are various means available for detecting wildland fires, and a recent presenter at the Suppression, Detection and Signaling Research and Applications Conference outlined an array of these technologies. Albert Simeoni of Worcester Polytechnic Institute discussed the important aspects of wildfire detection, from preventing fire spread to evaluating the intensity of fires, and what tools are available for local and global analysis.


Some of the technologies highlighted were image processing using satelliates and aircraft, infrared or ultraviolet sensors, and "acoustic" devices that allow users to track a fire through the noise it makes. Many of these tools, however, have its limitations, says Simeoni, who noted that an area's complex topography and smoke might impede the technology's performance.


A potential solution for better protection, adds Simeoni, are wireless sensor networks that are spatially distributed and can monitor a wildfire's temperature, heat flux, and smoke.


 

NFPA has conducted its own research on wildland fires--more specifically, the Fire Protection Research Foundation has completed a study that reviewed and assessed tools designed to address community wildfire risk, from land use regulation to adopting building codes and standards. Watch the following clip of Casey Grant, the Foundation's research director, giving an overview of this study:


To all of our 878 active Firewise communities across the country, we say:

Congratulations on a job well done!

Record breaking drought and high temperatures last year along with increased fuel loads (due in part to a number of damaging weather-related events) on our forest floors provided the perfect breeding ground for the more than 67,000 wildfires that burned over nine million acres of land. But while the fires painted a bleak picture for many communities, still many more didn’t wait till the threat was at their doorstep to get involved; they took action ahead of time to reduce their risk of damage.

How did they do it? Through hard work and perseverance, a few laughs and a whole lot of heart.

Check out our community success stories for the many projects and activities neighborhoods small and large have participated in. Want to know how you and your neighbors can get involved? It’s easy! Visit ourFirewise Communities/USA Recognition Program page for details. There you’ll find a number of resources that’ll help you get started including links to a homeowner’s checklist, facts about the Firewise program and contact information.

Want the chance to win valuable prizes to help with your mitigation efforts? Then join the Firewise Challenge this year and take your state to a whole new level of safety! The map below outlines the number of active Firewise communities in each state; we encourage you to take that number and raise it! Learn all about the Challenge on our website today.

Map of fw communities

Congratulations to all our Firewise sites for helping to create a safer world from wildfire! And don’t forget to tell us how you’ll make a difference this year. Your community could be highlighted on our success stories page!

Looking for more? Learn how your community can get involved in wildfire safety practices beyond your home and neighborhood. Check NFPA’s Fire Adapted Communities (FAC) website where you’ll learn about the many great programs and resources available through FAC’s coalition of wildfire safety experts.

WindyTX
I'm wondering when the state wildfire officials will begin to put two and two together: invite Steinberg to a meeting in our district and watch the red flags fly!

This is the 2nd time in a month that I've traveled south for Firewise and been met with high fire danger conditions on arrival. This pretty map from ESRI shows big red arrows signifying wind speeds over 40 miles per hour. And trust me, I can hear and feel the wind from my temporary perch in Georgetown, Texas. I nearly got pushed out of the parking lot of my hotel trying to get from my vehicle to the building. Good thing I overpack: my nice heavy luggage saved me!

I'm here for a Texas Firewise Workshop tomorrow and a tour of the Sun City Firewise community on Wednesday. Interest should be high given current conditions! Wish me luck!

Lego
The NFPA kicked off its partnership with LEGOLAND California Resort this past Friday at the Carlsbad theme park. Last year, it became the official fire-safety partner of LEGOLAND Florida.

In celebration of Firefighter Appreciation Day, local firefighters and their families joined NFPA and LEGOLAND staff for a presentation of “The Big Test,” a show in which an acrobatic troupe engages in comedic attempts to become firefighters, while incorporating essential fire safety messages. The kid-friendly production reminded the audience to check their smoke alarms and practice a home fire escape drill.

Mural
During the week, visitors to the park helped put together A LEGO City Mural. The final mural bricks were added by a crew of firefighters from the Carlsbad Fire Department, revealing an image of LEGO first responders. The completed mural, which included over 80,000 LEGO bricks, will be featured in the resort’s Imagination Zone.

See the rest of the photos from the event in our Facebook album.

ryan.quinn

Within range of “wild”

Posted by ryan.quinn Employee Feb 22, 2013

When someone says “wildfire” or “wildland fire,” it can conjure up some fairly specific images, most of which don’t involve your house. Not living in an area that feels “wild,” overgrown or shrub-covered may lead homeowners to believe that their properties are not at risk. So, should you even bother being Firewise?

Well, yes.

HIZ

If brush, grass or woods are nearby, all it takes are the right conditions and an ignition source. Suddenly, a fire outside your home could be advancing on it. Explore the Firewise Toolkit to find out what hazards could be around your property and what you can do to make your home fire-safe.

For frequently asked questions, visit the Firewise page.

This winter, depending upon where you live, Mother Nature has blessed us with quite a bit of the white stuff. In fact, here in New England we’ve seen storms almost every weekend for the last month, which have dumped up to a foot or more of snow each time in some areas. And as the snow continues to fall, we continue to shovel. The result: fire hydrants can easily get buried.

With winter’s grip upon us for the next month or two (maybe less, if we’re lucky) remember to take some time to shovel out the fire hydrant nearest your property, especially after a snowstorm. You’ll be doing your local firefighters a great service; access to critical water supplies during a fire means your fire department can fight flames more quickly and efficiently when they don’t have to dig out a hydrant.

And while the holiday season may be over, the video below featuring our Northwest Firewise advisor, Gary Marshall, still provides important information about the best way to shovel around the hydrant. Take a look and do your part to help keep your neighborhood safe.

 

Heidi WagnerOne thing that is not usually at the forefront of people’s minds about New York City is wildland fire. Heidi Wagner, the Firewise Advisor for the northeastern states, knows otherwise. As she explains in the Winter 2012 How-To newsletter, Staten Island actually has a Wildland Urban Interface (WUI) and has experienced 103 brush fires over the past 15 years.

Wagner is an experienced wildland firefighter, as well as manager of Sam’s Point Preserve and employee of the Nature Conservancy. The hamlet of Cragsmoor became New York’s first Firewise community under Wagner’s guidance, and she is working to bring Firewise to Staten Island.

 In her experience, the WUI looks and acts differently from place to place, but with some common risks. To read Wagner’s interview and learn more, visit our newsletter.

FAC Coalition members Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety (IBHS) and Ready Set Go! are joining forces in Colorado to conduct a firefighter train-the-trainer workshop on February 22, 2013.  Firefighters are increasingly being called upon to assess homes in wildfire-prone areas which makes this is a great opportunity for first responders to learn about protecting the structural elements of a house and its surroundings against wildfire. IBHS FAC training Feb 2013

To find out more and RSVP, visit the link below:

Colorado Continues to Rebuild Fire Adapted Communities

 The neighboring town could have a Firewise Community, and you may not even know it. Through the new Firewise Mapper, though, communities can be viewed and tracked, along with any encroaching wildfires. NFPA recently partnered with ESRI to develop the Mapper through its Wildland Fire Operations Division.  It shows the location and attributes of neighborhoods participating in the Firewise Communities/USA Recognition Program.  The Geographic Information System (GIS) has been integrated with Microsoft Office in a way that allows anyone to easily explore the tool.

 

Mapping
Firewise® Mapper (Beta version)

 

The Mapper includes point locations for roughly 850 active and 200 inactive Firewise Communities/USA recognition sites, with pop-up individual community profiles. Depending on the available data, one can follow the path of a fire in real-time in a given area. It has already proved an enormous help to NFPA staff in locating and reaching out to several Firewise communities that had major wildfires approaching. 

To learn more about the mapping project, visit the 2012 Winter How-To newsletter.

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Generations’ working together is a great way to foster relationships and develop social capital; and for the past five years students in one eastern Texas community have become intergenerational teachers, leading their community into achieving Firewise Communities/USA status.


Students at the Etoile School in Etoile, TX have embraced teaching adults and their peers about wildfire risks and they’ve taken active roles in a wide-range of related activities.  As the only school in an 80-square mile school district, located in the Angelina National Forest on the end of Lake Sam Rayburn, the nearly 150 students in Pre-K to 8th grade have been committed to performing education and mitigation tasks typically done by adults.


They’ve raised community awareness, changed attitudes, conducted on-the-ground projects, clean-up days, and participated as advisory board members.  From clearing leaves and debris at the home of elderly residents, to working with their families to create defensible space, the kids have proven they are capable and worthy of leading efforts that have significant impact on their community’s ability to survive a wildfire.


 

An in-depth report on the Etoile, TX Firewise program and the work that’s been done by an amazing group of young students can be accessed through the USDA Forest Service at http://nrs.fs.fed.us/pubs/42536 .


 


 


 

 

NOVA

Earth-orbit satellite images help scientists with everything from weather forecasting and disaster management to archeology. In PBS’s NOVAseries last night, NASA scientists explained how these images reveal important connections that sustain life on Earth, including the role wildfires play in our ecosystem.

The images were fantastic and eye-opening! Check out your local PBS station for the date and time of NOVA’s "Earth from Space" series. You definitely don’t want to miss this!

MarkThibedeau
When I attended the recent Wildfire Prevention Regional Conference hosted by the California Fire Safe Council, I met Mark Thibideau, a Forest Service Fire Prevention Technician working for the Shasta-Trinity National Forest at a booth promoting “One Less Spark, One Less Wildfire.”

This is a unique fire prevention campaign that focuses on mitigating wildfires caused by vehicles.  The campaign is based in part on local research of historical data about wildfire occurrences along the highways.  Before the spring and summer holidays these precautions are important to be aware of so that we can be “Firewise” away from home as well. According to a July 23, 2012 press release, Ron Hodgson, USDA Forest Service Fire Prevention Coordinator said:  “With the exception of equipment fires, vehicles cause more wildfires in California than any other cause, and yet they are among the easiest for people to prevent”. 

The campaign is focused on the I-5 corridor in a region where visitor use of the rest areas exceeds 4.5 million vehicles a year.  They hang posters at informational kiosks, install fire danger signs and billboards along freeways, and increase patrols at rest areas to discuss dragging chains and other hazards.  These measures can be copied in areas throughout the country that are at high risk from vehicle caused wildfires along busy highways.

“We have identified a handful of easy steps motorists can take to make sure they are not responsible for startingSparkPoster a fire,” Thibideau said. “This public information campaign should allow us to quickly inform a lot of people how they can help keep the public and firefighters safe and themselves free from the legal and financial hardships often associated with starting a wildfire. These are straightforward steps that don’t take a lot of time or money to accomplish. With the simple measures of keeping tow chains or exhaust systems from dragging, driving with correctly inflated tires, and not parking near dry vegetation, drivers can join us in the “One Less Spark-One Less Wildfire” fire prevention effort.

Check out the poster (you can click on the image to get to the printable PDF version) for three simple steps motorists can take, including safe towing, nothing dragging, and being "wheel safe".

Photo credit: Faith Berry. Photo shows Mark Thibideau at the US Forest Service booth at the California Wildfire Prevention Regional Conference promoting “One Less Spark, One Less Wildfire”.  He is holding a used piece of fire hose that could be used to cover tow chains.

 

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At the California Fire Safe Council’s recent *Wildfire Prevention
Regional Conference
*, I met many Fire Safe Council members that also were

recognized[ Firewise Communities/USA | http://www.firewise.org/usa] sites. These included Yankee Hill, Napa, Trinity County

communities and Humboldt County communities. 

Participating in both programs has helped these communities become even

more successful Fire Adapted Communities . 

Many communities have incorporated +Ready, Set, Go!+programming through their

local fire jurisdiction as well.


One of the presentations shared at the conference was
“Firesafe, Firewise and Fire Adapted!," by Katie Ziemann of the California Fire
Safe Council

and Phyllis Banducci with CAL FIRE . 

The presentation explained how Fire Safe Councils in California can also

become nationally recognized Firewise Communities.  Kate Ziemann shared about the Firewise Throw
Down
and the challenge to create 1,000 Firewise Communities by the end of 2013.
Many communities were excited about this challenge and the opportunity to win a
$5,000 award for contract work in the community. 


 

For more information about how your community

can take the steps to become a nationally recognized Firewise Community and

participate in the challenge go to the Firewise website at www.firewise.org


+Photo Credit: Faith Berry. This photo shows Linda from the Lake County Firesafe Council and a member of the YankeeHill Firewise Community/Firesafe Council proudly holding their FirewiseCommunities/USA sign.+


 

 

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Located in Northern California just 5 miles east of Paradise and 15 miles from Oroville in Butte County, Concow/Yankee Hill community is home to over 3,000 residents. Yankee Hill Fire Safe Council serves the communities of Yankee Hill, Concow, Pulga, Jarbo, Gap and Cherokee. Concow/Yankee Hill became a Firewise community in 2009, and has since been committed to keeping its residents Firewise-safe by providing timely information and hands-on opportunities in an effort to reduce the risk of a wildfire threat in their area.



 

Even before their inception into the Firewise Communities Program , the Council had championed its “Dooryard Educational Visits,” in which qualified Council members visit communities in teams and provide residents with a home and property evaluation to help them create defensible zones, review home construction and bring awareness to wildfire preparedness practices.


 

Read the complete story to find out about their amazing work and find out how your community can become Firewise as well!</p>

Keowee Key South Carolina
South Carolina Forestry and the Keowee Fire Department have worked together since 2005 to deliver wildland fire safety messages to residents, while helping them to increase their preparedness. Keowee Key was the second community to gain Firewise Communities/USA® recognition status in South Carolina, and since then, an additional four communities within the Keowee Fire District have received national Firewise recognition! The Keowee Lake region, on the far-western edge of the state, has a high proportion of natural land and can be relatively dry and windy, putting it at risk for bush fires.

Read the complete story of Keowee Key's success, and find out how your community can become Firewise as well! 

PorchThat beautiful redwood deck that you relax on during the summer can be a hazard when wildfire strikes. In the Home Ignition Zone, decks pose a threat to the safety of your home, but Steve Quarles, a senior scientist at the Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety (IBHS) Research Center offers tips for making sure your deck is Firewise and non-combustible. In our winter 2012 How-To newsletter, Quarles discusses the appropriate materials to keep in mind when constructing, retrofitting, or maintaining decks. 

Visit the newsletter and read his full Q&A to read his helpful guidelines for making the best choices to protect your home from wildfire.

http://nfpa.typepad.com/.a/6a00d8351b9f3453ef017ee83f21ed970d-pihttp://nfpa.typepad.com/.a/6a00d8351b9f3453ef017ee83f227b970d-piDechutes NFA new research article was published in the Society of American Foresters Journal of Forestry, January 2013.  Under the auspices of the Collaborative Forest Landscape Restoration Program,  US Forest Service researchers – Matthew Thompson, Nicole Valliant, Jessica Haas, Krista Gebert, and Keith Stockman modeled the impacts and effects of hazardous fuel reduction treatments on the Deschutes National Forest located in central Oregon.   The computer-aided simulation approach involved analyzing wildfire computer outputs with wildfire suppression costs.  The analysis reinforced the idea that fuel-treatments is a very useful strategy when trying to reduce the burden of wildfire on the landscape.  This type of research is very powerful as it helps the federal land-management agencies get a better understanding on what type and scale of wildfire mitigation strategies they should invest when trying to contain our Nation’s ever increasing wildfire suppression costs.

TXFirewiseWorkshop
I'm excited to present at this Texas Firewise Workshop in a few weeks. The Texas A&M Forest Service has teamed up with the Sun City Texas Community Association and its Firewise Group to put on a full day of educational sessions followed by a half-day tour of the Sun City community to observe wildfire mitigation in action.

While I'm going to be presenting what the conference organizers are calling "Firewise Communities/USA 101," my review of the agenda and other presenters has me thinking that participants will be learning much more than basic information. Fire service experts, mitigation specialists, and experienced community "sparkplugs" will all make presentations on related topics.

What sounds most appealing to me is the opportunity to hear first hand from community residents about how they tackled wildfire safety issues in their neighborhoods. This is where it gets real, and Firewise goes from an adjective to a verb! The tour of Sun City sounds like the perfect venue to get up close and personal with wildfire preparedness.

I hope if you are in the Austin area, you'll join me February 26-27 for this exciting event. Find all the details here.

http://nfpa.typepad.com/.a/6a00d8351b9f3453ef017c35cf58b6970b-piImage1

This is the first of a series of five blogs that takes a look at NFPA's Wildland Fire Operations Division's recently released report: Engaging Youth in Reducing Wildfire Risk.  The blogs examine why middle and high school students can and should have a role in reducing wildfire risk in the communities where they live.  The report looks at existing programs throughout the country, youth preparedness research, findings from a series of six interactive workshops with students living in areas impacted by wildfire and a questionnaire distributed to teachers in four communities that recently experienced a wildland fire event.

Currently, there is no nationwide wildland fire education program that focuses exclusively on impacting youth behaviors and attitudes as they relate to prevention, preparedness, and mitigation.  There's a multitude of excellent programs that target environmental education topics with brief information on wildfire mitigation, and a few that do a good job of tying in multiple components; but most don't address the science of the home ignition zone and the work that can positively impact a home's chances of survivability.

Estimates indicate that more than 8.8 million students in grades six through twelve would benefit from learning how to reduce the wildfire risk at their home and in the communities where they reside; and as they mature into the next generation's wildland/urban interface home and land owners.

Researchers consider our nation's youth to be the best envoy for carrying preparedness messages home to their families and that they can convince their parents to prepare.  Additional research by disaster safety experts demonstrates outreach to middle and high school aged students that emphasizes safety, prevention, mitigation and recovery is sorely needed in wildfire-prone areas.  The gaps between what students want and and need to know - and what is currently available is extremely large.

Youth can be passionate about issues that concern them and can be empowered to make preparedness a priority through actions and by proactively spreading important mitigation messages.

Check out the other four blogs in the Engaging Youth in Reducing Wildfire Risk series at the following links:

Blog 2: Wildfire education programs for youth: research findings

Blog 3:  Outreach to youth yields innovative ideas for future wildfire education programs 

Blog 4:  What youth want and need to learn about wildfire

Blog 5: Teachers respond to questions about wildfire education programs for youth

Blowdown in Pine County, MN July 2011 (9)
Skies turned dark and the wind started blowing. The trees all shook in the wind. The wind became more violent and then it happened… Sounds like a horror movie? Well, for the residents of Itasca County, Minnesota, it was… for just a little while.

In July 2012, Itasca County suffered a devastating wind storm that uprooted thousands of trees. Did the residents in the county panic? No. Itasca County has had a chipping program in place for the last 3 years with the help of the Minnesota Firewise program.

This state grant program has teamed up the University of Minnesota Itasca County Extension office, Itasca County Land Development, Minnesota Power and the communities within the county. The program is a perfect match for the Firewise Communities/USA Recognition program.  Although Minnesota had only one recognized Firewise Communities/USA site at the time of the storm, Itasca County residents have been working to remove woody debris from around their homes for years. In effect, they had modified their home ignitions zones and increased their wildfire safety.

According to Bill Brink, Itasca County Firewise Coordinator, in 2012 the number of residents participating inBill Brink and myself in front of collection site the program more than tripled from 80-100 homeowners to 313. The state grant required that for every dollar given, an in-kind match from volunteer work had to be received. Following the July storms, these homeowners invested over 24,000 volunteer hours resulting in an in-kind match of $526,730 and removing almost 3,000 tons of woody debris.

So what did they do with all of the debris? Remember I mentioned the partnership with Minnesota Power? The Chipper Days program recovers the woody debris from participating homeowners and takes it to collection sites around the county. Prior to the storms, there were only 3 of these collection sites. Since the county Firewise Board was working with communities to obtain their Firewise Communities/USA recognition, new partnerships had been
IMG_1160_tc_itascaformed. After the July storms, they were able to obtain 3 additional collection sites for debris. The program provides for an industrial sized chipper to be brought in and chip the woody debris. After the debris is chipped, it is then transported to Minnesota Power to be used as a renewable biofuel. The woody chips are burned with coal to produce electricity: a perfect solution to a bad situation. The removal of almost 3,000 tons of debris not only cleaned up the remains of the storm but made the community safer against wildland fires and provided a valuable, free resource to produce electricity.

So all of this work and Minnesota had only one recognized Firewise community? Not anymore! In 2012, Minnesota brought in 13 new Firewise Communities/USA sites! For years, the work was being done in Minnesota without being recognized. Several communities thought that the process was a long, difficult one to gain recognition. Once these communities were guided through the paperwork and application and were shown the benefits of being recognized, they took off on their own.

Itasca County is a prime example of the benefits of becoming Firewise. When the wind storm hit and wreaked havoc in the community, they were able to handle it in a safe and expedient manner. Look for big things to come out of Minnesota Firewise! I think they have just begun.

Photos: Top: Blowdown area from 2011 in Pine County; Center: Bill Brink and Todd Chlanda in front of collection site; Bottom: chipped material to be used for biofuel.

WUI
Recent research has led to a greater understanding of how wildland fires ignite homes. By applying this new knowledge and using the latest approaches to address structure ignition concerns, we believe future WUI fire disasters can significantly be reduced.

HIZJoin NFPA at the International Association of Fire Chiefs’ (IAFC) Wildland Urban Interface Conference 2013 for a two-day workshop,Assessing Wildfire Hazards in the Home Ignition Zone (HIZ), which will help you identify hazards and reduce risks in the home ignition zone before a wildfire starts. 

Here’s what you’ll learn in the workshop:

Register now! Join Pat Durland, Principle of Stone Creek Fire, LLC who will lead this informative and interactive discussion.

The pre-conference workshop will be held March 18 – 19.

For more information about IAFC’s WUI 2013 conference, check out their website. Additional details about NFPA’s HIZ workshops can be found at firewise.org.



 February 2013 artwork

The second artist featured in the year-long monthly spotlight of winners from the Napa County, CA Firewise program’s “Wildfire Hurts Everyone” art contest, is 8-year-old Antonio Napoles.  Antonio attends the Salvador School in Napa and is a member of the Boys and Girls Club of Napa Valley.

His colorful image of a home threatened by wildfire sends a strong message about the importance of being prepared.

Since February is the month of love, it’s a good time to show your family how much you care about them – spend time developing and practicing your wildfire safety plan with everyone in your household. During research for NFPA’s Wildland Fire Operations Division’s Engaging Youth in Reducing Wildfire Risk report, many middle and high school age youth shared they knew their parents had a plan, but it wasn't something they'd shared with the entire family; that huge disconnect impacts everyone.  Make sure your kids know the plan!

Congratulations Antonio for being the February Showcase Artist!

Read more about Colorado Governor Hickenlooper&#39;s&#0160;wildland fire fire advisory committee.

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