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2013

The National Association of State Foresters  (NASF) recently published the FY 2012 Communities at Risk (CAR) report.  The purpose of the report is to determine progress in identifying communities at risk and developing Community Wildfire Protection Plans (CWPPs).

CAR_NASF
Image: US regional map showing total communities at risk (CAR); communites covered by a CWPP, recognized Firewise Communities/USA sites and communities at reduced risk for FY2012. source: NASF & NFPA.

In summary there are over 72,000 communities at risk in the United States, with 20% covered by a CWPP or equivalent. A little less than 4,000 or  6 percent of these communities at risk are considered to be in a 'reduced risk' status due to the wildfire mitigation activities they have already implemented and continue to maintain.

Based on the NASF report, one can reason that there is still a lot of wildfire mitigation work needed.  In addition to learning about CWPP's please visit the following websites to learn more on how your community can effectively reduce its wildfire risk: Fire Adapted Communities, Firewise and Ready, Set, Go!

Immediately following the release last Tuesday of the Fire Adapted Communities post-fire field report and video highlighting lessons learned from the Waldo Canyon Fire, Colorado Public Radio (CPR) featured it during their newscast.

CPR interviewed Brenda O'Connor, public affairs senior vice president for the Insurance Institute for Business and Home Safety, a FAC coalition member oganization, about the importance of wildfire safety preparedness and the role it plays in helping to prevent house to house ignition due to flying embers from a fire.

Check out the audio clip below for the full story:

  

The report and video are also available to download and view on the Fire Adapted Communities website at fireadapted.org. Check it out today!

MDC dozer with increased fuel load
Last year, Southwest Missouri was in the midst of another hot, dry summer.  This really isn’t anything new and a lot of people wouldn’t be worried except for the fact that over the last several years the area in and around the city of Joplin have been hit by two once-in-a-lifetime ice storms, an EF4 and an EF5 tornado, an inland hurricane and severe drought. This has resulted in a lot of damage to trees in the forest.

According to theMissouri Department of Conservation, the normal fuel load on the forest floor in the area was around 3 ton per acre. After these natural events, the fuel load is now estimated to be around 36 ton per acre and primed to burn. Many of the fire departments have been forced to adapt their wildland firefighting protocols to deal with this increased fuel load. Fires are burning faster and with increased intensity and are threatening more structures than before.  Area fire departments are taking heed of these warnings and are preparing for another intense wildland fire season.

I’m not sure that I can even use the term “wildland fire season” anymore. In the past, there was a wildland fire season and it usually occurred in the Spring and in the Fall. Now with the climate changes, lack of winter and precipitation, the “fire season” is a year-round occurrence. Fire departments are fighting wildland fires throughout the year now.

The Carthage (Missouri) Fire Department realized that their communities were not immune to this increased wildland fire danger. Last year they introduced Firewise to the homeowners in their district and began the process to become recognized as Firewise. With the support of the community, the fire department began evaluating homes and created theirCommunity Wildfire Protection Plan (CWPP). Carthage Fire Department brought 12 new communities into the Firewise Communities/USA family last year.

This year, they are using their CWPP and addressing their water supply problem in some of their rural areas. They have identified 7 locations to install dry hydrants. (A dry hydrant is a non-pressurized PVC pipe that runs out into a creek, river, lake or pond that a fire engine can hookup to and draft water from to use to fill fire apparatus to fight fires.) They are using their CWPP and Firewise Communities to apply for a grant that will pay for the installation of these hydrants. If the grant is approved, the Carthage Fire Department and the homeowners within their district will have increased their fire protection and seen a return, again, of the work invested into becoming a Firewise Community/USA community.

Fire Chief Chris Thompson said “The community was already doing the requirements for Firewise, why shouldn’t they get something in return for their work? We (the fire department) were in a position to assist these communities and it has turned out to be a win-win situation.” A great example of how partners can work together using a variety of resources in a Fire Adapted Communities approach.

Photo of MDC dozer in heavy downed fuels courtesy of Todd Chlanda.

FAC
Colorado  is still recovering from the most destructive and expensive wildfire in its history, the Waldo Canyon Fire, and according to state forestry and fire officials, this threat will only continue in the coming years.

As you may have read in our previous blog posts, members of the Fire Adapted Communities coalition organized a series of workshops last September for Colorado residents titled "Colorado Rebuilds Fire Adapted Communities" and a firefighter "train the trainer" workshop just last month. Both events were aimed at providing resources and information, and the steps that communities can take to help stem the threat of future wildfire damage in their area.


CO mapFAC member organization, the Insurance Institute for Business and Home Safety (IBHS), features a short, but informative audio clip on their website from Colorado Public Radio that emphasizes Fire Adapted Communities and its role in helping Colorado residents move forward with the rebuilding of their communities.

Listen to the audio clip at the bottom of IBHS' web page.

And if you weren't aware of the great resources that the coalition provided during the workshops, read our previous blogs to learn more about the process and the results.

Fire Adapted Communities connects residents with national programs, resources and organizations that can help them address their community's specific wildfire mitigation needs. Learn more about what Fire Adapted Communities can do to help your community reduce its wildfire risk by visiting their website at www.fireadapted.org

http://nfpa.typepad.com/.a/6a00d8351b9f3453ef017c382ab559970b-piShagbark

You have probably heard about wildfires in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. Last week, 35 buildings were damaged or destroyed in a fast-moving fire.

What you may not know is that just last month, our "Firewise family" in Tennessee -- state and local wildfire specialists, firefighters and community residents of a Firewise Communities/USA recognition site -- experienced another fire very near the same area. In this case, no structures were destroyed, and valuable lessons about wildfire safety came to light. Here's what our Tennessee partners told us:

On Feb 19, 2013, a wildfire struck the Firewise Community of Shagbark, located near Pigeon Forge, Tennessee.   A resident reported the fire at 1:30 a.m.; eventually it would be learned that heavy winds snapped a large pine tree that fell across a powerline and started the fire.  Within a couple hours, 50 acres had burned, six fire departments were on scene, evacuations took place, and seven houses were threatened. Two of the houses narrowly missed being destroyed by the blaze.   

On March 8, Firewise Committee members Laurie and Bob Schad and Gray Tustison surveyed the area with Leon Konz, a Wildfire Prevention andFirewise Coordinator for the Tennessee Division of Forestry.  The objective was to see what lessons could be learned from the wildfire to share with the community.  Here’s what they came up with:

  • Firewise practices work. The house nearest to the starting point almost certainly would have been ignited if the leaves and pines needles had not been removed last fall.
  • Reemphasize the need to keep vegetation away from propane tanks.  A tank near one of the structures was blackened due to vegetation surrounding it.  
  • Reemphasize the need to keep evergreen trees and shrubs a safe distance from the house.   At one location, tall evergreens near, and higher than, the deck were partially consumed indicating that they almost “torched out”.  Torching would have likely ignited the deck.
  • The Community Wildfire Protection Plan was helpful.  The “Action Plan” within it, coupled with a wildfire hazard mitigation grant, put the residents in a better position to protect their community.

The Firewise Committee plans to share with their fellow Shagbark community residents the lessons learned by posting information on their website, through newsletters, and by reports at their annual meeting.   They hope that the lessons learned from this fire will make more homes safer, especially through an increase in requests for home ignition zone assessments.

Photo: Shagbark Firewise Committee members survey fire damage and Firewise practices following the February 19 fire. Photo and story courtesy Leon Konz, Tennessee Firewise coordinator. See more about Tennessee's Firewise activities in the Fall 2012 How To Newsletter starting on page 10.

TreesA big concern that homeowners often express is that being Firewise might mean getting rid of all of the trees on their properties. Fortunately, there are quite a few things to do that make trees and homes safer that do not involve mass deforestation.

In some cases, simply removing overhanging branches or limbing trees up from the ground will make you sufficiently resistant from embers or firebrands. Healthy, well-maintained trees or forestland on your property looks attractive and not necessarily pose a major risk for the spread of wildfire.

Each site is slightly different, and the best bet is to consult an arborist or forester on the species and arrangement of the trees, as well as other factors. You may need to remove or thin out some trees to maintain the health of the rest, and it will leave you with better landscaping and a more secure home out of the bargain.

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The March/April issue of Wildfire Magazine highlights the work NFPA’s Wildland Fire Operations Division is doing to include the nation’s estimated 8.8 million youth, in grades six through twelve living in wildland/urban interface areas, in wildfire awareness and preparedness outreach efforts. 

This young demographic has traditionally been under-utilized in the development of most education programs and strategic messaging; even though they hold tremendous potential and have the power to be valuable conduits for getting mitigation information into their homes. Their ability to initiate family conversations about wildfire preparedness and motivate their family to implement actions is significant and should be a key component in all outreach efforts. 

If you have kids, nieces, nephews, or grandchildren, take a moment to think about the times they’ve been the motivator and reminder for you to incorporate safety actions into your everyday life; and how those things have now become part of your daily routine.  Young people can be very persistent in getting us to change our mindset about what and how we do things. Ask any parent about the power their kids hold in getting them to make changes.  Those conversations cover many topics…seat belts, talking on a cell phone while driving, reminding us to change the batteries in our smoke and CO alarms, wearing helmets while bike riding or skiing; the list is long.  Begrudgingly, we need to give our kids the credit they deserve for being effective at giving us those annoying and not so gentle nudges in tackling the things we tend to avoid, or put on the back burner, even though we know they’re important.

So let’s empower them to nag a little more and get their families to take actions that reduce wildfire risk, and help them prepare for the day that a wildfire may be an uninvited guest knocking at the door. Young people are great motivators, positive influencers and messengers.  They’re our future mitigation champions!

NFPA's report Engaging Youth in Reducing Wildfire Risk — Community Conversation Workshop Findings and Research is available in the Youth and Families section of the Firewise website.

FAC-Ad

The Fire Adapted Communities (FAC) Coalition has released a report, “Lessons from Waldo Canyon” and companion video, “Creating Fire Adapted Communities: A Case Study from Colorado Springs and the Waldo Canyon Fire.” Both the video and report are available on the Fire Adapted Communities website.

In the wake of the June 2012 Waldo Canyon Fire that destroyed 345 homes and resulted in the evacuation of more than 30,000 residents from the City of Colorado Springs, CO; members of the Fire Adapted Communities Coalition visited the area to learn how the city’s decade-long wildfire safety programs had affected the outcome of the fire. The report and video are the result of interviews, field visits and tours of the city’s most affected neighborhoods during a three-day postfire visit in July 2012.

Pam Leschak, WUI/Fire Adapted Communities program manager for the USDA Forest Service Fire and Aviation Management shared that, “To a large extent, the mitigation tools used by the Colorado Springs Fire Marshal’s Wildfire Mitigation Section for the past 10 years, mirror the recommendations of the Fire Adapted Communities program.  The findings of the report conclude that damage as a result of the Waldo Canyon Fire would have been more wide-spread if these practices had not been implemented.”

With support from the U.S. Forest Service, the mitigation assessment team was comprised of representatives from the FAC Coalition including the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), Insurance Institute for Business and Home Safety (IBHS), the International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC), and The Nature Conservancy (TNC), with invaluable assistance from CSFD’s Fire Marshal Brett Lacey and the department’s Wildfire Mitigation Section.    

For more information about Fire Adapted Communities visit http://www.fireadapted.org/.

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Do you know someone between the ages of 12 and 17 that’s made an impact in reducing their community’s wildfire risk? 

If so, now’s the time to nominate, or encourage them to apply on their own behalf, to serve on FEMA’s National Youth Preparedness Council.  This is a unique opportunity for youth to serve on a highly distinguished national council and share their opinions, experiences, ideas and solutions to help strengthen our nation’s resiliency for all types of disasters. Council members are selected from applicants throughout the U.S. and represent the youth perspective on emergency preparedness. 

Nominations must be received by midnight (EDT) on Friday, April 19.  Click here to access the application and find additional information.

I have the personal privilege of knowing the 2012 Council Chair Rebekka McCaleb from Sterling, CO; and with youth like Rebekka working to make a difference, our nation’s future generations will have a better understanding about the importance of mitigation and preparedness.  Read bios on the current council’s amazing fourteen members.

http://nfpa.typepad.com/.a/6a00d8351b9f3453ef017c381782ff970b-pihttp://nfpa.typepad.com/.a/6a00d8351b9f3453ef017c381783a6970b-piPaleoCampfires have been enjoyed since humanity’s earliest history.  It is Spring break for many and soon we will be enjoying those warm summer months when campfires are a favorite pastime.  A highlight of the warmer season is roasting marshmallows and making those old favorites s’mores around the campfire. What wonderful memories can be created with family members and friends.  It is important to keep those memories pleasant by following some safety tips:

  1. Make sure you get a permit.  At certain times of the year such as during fire season campfires may not be allowed.  Be sure to follow your local guidelines.
  2. Select a level, shaded location away from heavy fuels such as logs, tents and other flammable materials like overhanging branches, brush or decaying leaves and needles.
  3. Some campsites may have designated fire pits these should be used.  If allowed in the area, use a shovel to clear an area at least 10 feet in diameter (local regulations may vary).  Scrape away grass, leaves or needles down to the mineral soil.
  4. Scoop a depression in the center of the cleared area in which to build the fire and place a ring of rocks around it.
  5. Cut wood in short lengths, pile within the cleared area and light the fire.  The fire should be built no larger than necessary.  Never use an accelerant such as gasoline to start the fire.
  6. Fire must never be left unattended and the fire must be extinguished completely before everyone leaves camp.

CampfireIn order to properly extinguish your campfire:

  1. Fill a bucket with water and pour it on the campfire while completely stirring and wetting all the ashes.  Turn  wood and coals over and wet all sides.
  2. Move some of the dirt immediately adjacent to the fire into the fire and mix thoroughly.
  3. Feel with your hand all around fire to be sure nothing is still smoldering.

http://nfpa.typepad.com/.a/6a00d8351b9f3453ef017ee9bacb71970d-piAlways follow safety measures so that you leave with a pocket full of good memories.  Leaving a campfire unattended is a violation of Federal Law (36 CFR 261.5) and is punishable by a fine of $225 to $5,000 and as many a six months in jail.  You could also be held liable for fire suppression costs if a campfire that you started got out of control and started a wildfire. Be safe!

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NFPA's first Wildfire Preparedness Day of Service will be held on May 4th, 2013 in the state of Colorado. We recently blogged about all of the details and how to get involved, so if you missed that post, check it out to learn more. 


Now, we have received some exciting news about the pilot launch of this Day of Service. The Colorado Governor, John W. Hickenlooper, has issued an official State of Colorado Proclamation setting May 4th as the state-wide "Colorado Wildfire Preparedness Day of Service." The text of the Proclamation can be seen here:

+WHEREAS, Colorado experienced devastating wildfires during
2012; and+


+WHEREAS, residents in areas with wildfire danger can impact
the risk and severity of wildfires and reduce deaths, injuries and property
losses through their preparedness efforts; and+


+WHEREAS, a dedicated day that engages communities in
focusing on activities that create awareness, education and action have the
potential to make significant differences before, during and after a wildfire;
and+


+WHEREAS, proactive actions from a single individual, or
neighbors working together to help someone who needs assistance with Firewise
mitigation tasks, contributes to a safer community when wildfires happen; and+


+WHEREAS, Coloradans can become local champions by committing
a couple of hours, or an entire day, in providing services that improve
defensibility and resiliency and moves them towards becoming a more fire
adapted community; and+


+WHEREAS, all residents throughout Colorado are encouraged to
participate in this day of service;+


+Therefore, I, John Hickenlooper, Governor of the State of
Colorado, do hereby proclaim May 4, 2013, as+


 

COLORADO WILDFIRE PREPAREDNESS DAY OF SERVICE</p>

 

 

In response to requirements of the Federal Land Assistance, Management, and Enhancement (FLAME) Act of 2009, the Wildland Fire Leadership Council (WFLC) directed the development of the National Cohesive Wildland Fire Management Strategy (Cohesive Stategy).

As a part of this process and after public review, all three regions (west, southeast and northeast) have submitted their action plans to the WFLC for review. The Plans will be reviewed and considered for concurrence at the April 5, 2013, WFEC meeting. It is important to note Fire Adapted Communities is one of the main elements that is emphasized throughout the draft plans.  Wildfire mitigation strategies like Community Wildfire Protection Plans (CWPP), Firewise Communities/USA and Ready, Set, Go! programs feature prominently in support of this overarching approach.

Sweet Spot
Image:  Finding the 'sweet spot'; key elements of the National Cohesive Strategy

Wooden TilesNow, if we’re operating under the assumption that wildfire destroying homes and property should be avoided, there are a few vital steps to better protect your home. Roofs are exceptionally vulnerable to embers that blow in on the wind. So, non-flammable roof coverings as well as clean gutters are crucial.

Surrounding the house, clear out debris from beneath decks and porches, and keep a fuel free space 3-5 feet around the perimeter of your home. Be conscious of the effect that geography has on wildfire: while thinning vegetation within 30 feet of your home might work on level ground, fire moves more quickly uphill, so 50-100 feet would be safer if you live on a slope.

Find many more tips and tools in the Information and Resources section of Firewise.

The March issue of Fire Break, NFPA’s wildland fire newsletter, is now available for viewing. In this issue, you’ll find: FB

  • A New York Times article that links the current drought problem to the nation’s increased wildfire activity
  • A creative list of wildfire mitigation activities for individuals, groups and communities
  • Information about a campaign that targets automobiles in an effort to reduce wildfire ignitions
  • A link to a study that focuses on the importance of fuel reduction treatments in offsetting the growing costs of wildfire suppression activities
  • An update on an NFPA roundtable discussion focused on improving data reporting for wildland fires 

 … And lots more! We want to continue to share all of this great information with you so don’t miss an issue! Subscribe today. It’s free! Just click here to add your email address to our newsletter list.

Last summer, the Waldo Canyon Fire in Colorado prompted the evacuation of more than 30,000 people in the region. A month after the fire was contained, a pair of local organizations that support people with disabilities, The Independence Center and the Rocky Mountain ADA Center, held a public forum and conducted online surveys to collect information on accessibility barriers encountered during the fire.

JournalTheir report, “Summary of Findings: Waldo Canyon Fire Forum for People with Disabilities” highlights issues that arose, and offers suggestions from people with disabilities on how to better plan for emergencies. In the latest issue of NFPA Journal, Molly Mowery explores this challenge, and highlights the report in her latest Wildfire Watch column. 

Read Molly's full column.

Additional fire safety information and education materials for people with disabilities can be found on NFPA's consumer safety page. Check out their latest issue of E-Access, a bi-monthly newsletter designed to help reduce the worldwide burden of fire and other hazards on the quality of life for people with disabilities. There's also an emergency evacuation planning guide, videos, checklists and much more. 

The Fire Adapted Communities (FAC) Coalition has announced the release of a new report, “Lessons from Waldo Canyon” and a companion video, “Creating Fire Adapted Communities:  A Case Study from Colorado Springs and the Waldo Canyon Fire.”  The post-fire field report and video are a first from the FAC coalition.

 

In the wake of last summer’s tragic Waldo Canyon Fire which destroyed 345 homes and resulted in the evacuation of more than 30,000 residents from the City of Colorado Springs, Colorado, members of the Fire Adapted Communities Coalition visited the area to learn how the city’s decade-long wildfire safety programs had affected the outcome of the fire. The final report and video are the result of interviews, field visits and tours of the city’s most affected neighborhoods conducted by the Coalition’s assessment team during the three-day visit to the area in July 2012.

With support from the U.S. Forest Service, the mitigation assessment team, comprised of representatives from the Coalition including the Insurance Institute for Business and Home Safety (IBHS), the International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC), the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA)and The Nature Conservancy (TNC), worked closely with the Colorado Springs Fire Marshal's Wildfire Mitigation Section and the Colorado State Forest Service

According to Pam Leschak, WUI/Fire Adapted Communities program manager for the USDA Forest Service Fire and Aviation Management, “The mitigation tools used by the Colorado Springs Fire Marshal’s Wildfire Mitigation Section for the last 10 years mirrored, to a large extent, the recommendations of the Fire Adapted Communities program. The findings of the report conclude that the damage to the city as a result of the Waldo Canyon Fire would have been far more wide-spread if these practices weren’t put into place.”

Read the full report.

Learn more about Fire Adapted Communities, the Coalition and the programs and resources it offers by visiting the website at www.fireadapted.org.

Additional information about the "Lessons from Waldo Canyon" report is available by contacting IBHS.

 ServiceDay logo WHITE_ RGB
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Calling all Coloradans - grab a friend, your entire family, or join a group of neighbors and participate in the statewide Wildfire Preparedness Day of Service on Saturday, May 4, 2013The date coincides with the International Association of Wildland Fire’s (IAWF) Global Wildfire Awareness WeekColorado is NFPA’s Wildland Fire Operations Division’s pilot state for this coordinated project.  

Make your actions speak loudly – commit a couple of hours or an entire day and see how your personal efforts contribute to reducing the wildfire risk in your community.  Enlist the help of a friend, relative, or group of classmates and get something GREAT accomplished!  Challenge a club, school athletic team or youth organization to develop a project too, and see who can make the largest impact. 

Potential projects span a wide range of possibilities – some require physical energy and others can be as simple as talking with or texting important information to neighbors and friends.  You may choose to invest time at your own home doing a project with family members, or choose to organize a group to participate in a neighbor-to-neighbor activity for someone who needs physical assistance completing their Firewise tasks.  Perhaps, a totally different path is more aligned with how you want to serve your community – and there’s plenty of options for that too: hold a garage sale and donate the proceeds to the local fire department’s wildland fire team or use the money to pay for a neighborhood chipping day.  Another option is to set-up a table at a shopping center and distribute free wildfire education information. The scope can be large or small – you decide the details.  

The Wildfire Preparedness Day of Service is open to participants of all ages, with a special outreach effort being made to teens – middle school age and older.  A broad-range of age appropriate project ideas has been developed and is available at Firewise.org/dayofserviceEach one was created to be easily accomplishable in a single day. The event is being promoted through NFPA’s Firewise.org, Facebookhttps://www.facebook.com/firewiseand Twitter sites; with opportunities for coordinated local group projects to be added to our project locator map.  Additional outreach is being coordinated by the Colorado State Forest Service, READYColorado, the Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management, the Mile High Chapter of the Red Cross, and the Rocky Mountain Insurance Information Association

Share photos and details of what you're planning and who's particiapting on both our Facebook page and yours. Your ideas could motivate others to follow your lead!

As evidenced each year during October’s annual Fire Prevention Week, there’s enormous strength in motivating individuals to implement fire safety actions on a designated day; and a coordinated day of wildfire preparedness is an opportunity to increase awareness while reducing risk.  Service days engage communities into taking action and provide a mechanism for individuals to help with important local issues.

 

This past weekendthe southeastern United States experienced severe red flag weather  conditions.&#0160; A red flag weather warning is typically issued by NOAA when the combination of low humidities and high winds combine to create conditions that are ideal for wildfire ignition and rapid spread.&#0160; During this high wildfire risk period two major conflagration events occured in Pigeon Forge, Tennesseeand Myrtle Beach South Carolina.


 

Although the above stories are tragic, there are a number of things you can do before a red flag warning event to limit your exposure to wildfire risk.&#0160; Becoming a recognized Firewise Communities/USA® site sets your community on a path to increased community resilience and survivability in the event of a wildfire.


 

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Image: More than 30 mountain cabins near the town of Pigeon Forge, Tennessee were destroyed this past weekend (source: CNN)


that conditions are ideal for wildland fire ignition, and rapid propagation.Read more here: http://www.myrtlebeachonline.com/2013/03/17/3386307/investigation-continues-into-myrtle.html#storylink=cpy

&#0160;

 3 2 Saws and Slaws Group

Saws and Slaws is much more than a catchy name for mitigation activities, it’s more like an old fashioned barn raising, or current day block party where friends and neighbors pool their efforts to help a fellow community member and then close their time together with good food (and sometimes home-made beer).  The premise is simple:  you work hard for four hours and at the end of that time the group’s efforts are rewarded with lunch and camaraderie; a truly simple way to create synergy and reap social capital benefits.  Saws and Slaws can be easily duplicated anywhere in the nation – but remember you heard about it first in Boulder!

Communities in Boulder County, CO are learning first-hand about the benefits of working with their neighbors to reduce the wildfire risk across multiple properties.  Last summer the Town of Nederland located west of Boulder, Colorado borrowed the Saws and Slaws recipe from their neighbors in Coal Creek Canyon (who also provided many pairs of hands to help them get started) and found it was something they’ll do again. 

The recipe is easy: Find a neighborhood champion (in this case it was Mr. Cesar Gellido) to lead and organize; and then carefully add some neighborhood sweat equity while utilizing the talents of volunteers of all ages and voila - you’ve created a delightful mixture that others will want to taste.

A special thank you to Jim Webster and Ryan Ludlow with Boulder County for their efforts to educate, support and encourage wildfire mitigation in the communities they serve.  With the snow quickly disappearing, I’m anxiously looking forward to hearing them share many more S & S stories in the near future!

These days, fire departments are working with reduced budgets and limited resources for fighting fire. But some small and volunteer departments who concentrate their efforts in high-risk wildfire areas are taking on this challenge and finding innovative ways to help protect their communities including working together with residents in wildfire risk mitigation activities.

NFPA’s new DVDBefore the Smoke! Preparing Your Community for Wildfirehighlights the work of three local fire departments whose ongoing relationship with their residents allowed them to create a community better prepared for the threat of wildfire. The DVD also provides important information about key programs that communities can engage in during the year including Firewise® and Ready, Set, Go, which are a part of the Fire Adapted Communities® initiative.

Watch a clip of the DVD below:

 


The DVD can found on NFPA's wildfire safety online catalog

You can also find other materials to help guide your mitigation activities with neighbors and friends. And don’t forget to share your plans and projects with us! We love to spread the word ... your hard work continues to inspire and encourage others to get involved!

ryan.quinn

What can’t be insured

Posted by ryan.quinn Employee Mar 13, 2013

PossessionsYet another inadvisable state of mind as far as wildfire prevention: Well, my insurance should cover any damages on the exceptionally unlikely occasion of nature burning down my house.

 In the event that a wildland fire does reach and destroy your home and all of your worldly possessions, it may seem logical just to be grateful that you’re adequately insured. However, most homeowner policies do not cover any landscaping or plants that are destroyed in wildland fires. Also, your worldly possessions likely hold some sort of sentimental value separate from their monetary worth.

So, on top of making every effort to ensure that your home is taken care of through Firewise principles, try to schedule a yearly insurance evaluation to understand what is or is not covered. Taking inventory of your home is also sensible, just in case of an unforeseen disaster; there are free online tools to help you through it. 

Wildfire-Embers signature banner - March 11 2013

Within a relatively short period of time, awareness of the Fire Adapted Communities (FAC) program has grown rapidly; and stakeholders are embracing the fact that the more actions a community undertakes, the more fire adapted it becomes.

Last week I was reminded just how much the FAC movement is gaining momentum when I received an email from Schelly Olson with the Grand Fire Protection District in Granby, CO.  She promoted their use of the Firewise and Ready, Set, Go programs by adding the FAC banner to her email signature, demonstrating how stakeholders at all levels can promote the importance of being a Fire Adapted Community.    

Awareness about the collection of information and resources available on the FAC website continues to build through public service announcements, outreach projects, and the work of a wide-range of proponents.  By simply adding the FAC banner to her emails, Schelly’s promoting the plethora of resources available on the fire adapted communities website.  Show your commitment to being a Fire Adapted Communities advocate by putting the banner on your signature line; and encourage your colleagues to add it too.  Demonstrating and reinforcing that it takes a unified and complimentary collection of resources for a community to become fire adapted benefits everyone.

To add the banner to your signature line - copy the graphic above and add it to your email's signature box. For additional PSAs and campaign tools, visit the FAC Media and Outreach page.

In my role as a wildfire mitigation specialist and Public Information Officer for the Florida Forest Service, I was assigned to the recent "Bermont Road 2" fire in Punta Gorda in southwest Florida's Charlotte County. Fires have been increasingly frequent and intense this season in this area of the Sunshine State. While two mobile homes were destroyed during this particular incident, I was able to document a home that survived fire burning right up to the foundation, with no intervention by fire fighters. This home was a prime example of Firewise principles in action.

The property had very good defensible space with only short grasses near the main home and outbuildings. But since the wind-driven fire was spotting embers into the grass, it was the home's Firewise features - a solid block foundation, screened areas behind latticework, heavy timber construction and a metal roof - that kept it from suffering the fate of the homes that burned. Small flames and sparks meant the demise of the two mobile homes, but didn't have an entry point in the Firewise home.

I'm grateful to Wink News, our local CBS affiliate, for the great coverage of the fire itself and the story of the Firewise home I observed. Click on the image below to go to the story and watch the video.

CharlotteFirewise

hyltonhaynes

Connecting the dots

Posted by hyltonhaynes Employee Mar 8, 2013

As a Society of American Forester member, I came across an interesting article titled 'What is Happening in Our Forest?' written by Steve Wilent in the latest Forestry Source publication.  The interesting part about the article is how a environmentalists are beginning to see the value of active forest management (conservation) versus a 'hands off' preservation approach to the management of our forests.

This idea of 'active management' has great application in the wildland-urban interface (WUI).  Often times when communities in the WUI are approached about wildfire mitigation the immediate response is:

'we like the way the forest and vegetation looks'

'we live here because of our love of the forest and natural surrounding and we don't want it to change'

'I am an environmentalist and you are recommending that I remove the vegetation and forest' 

'wildfire mitigation techniques like Firewise landscaping is contrary to our deeply held preservation ethic'. 

This notion is reinforced in community ordinances, covenants, conditions and restrictions (CC & R's) where homeowners are required to seek permission from authorities to remove trees that are 4 inches and greater in their backyard - sometimes the 'rules' are inforced without thinking about the forest health and wildfire risk potential.

Too connect the dots check out this excellent youtube clip that was produced by the Aspen Center for Environmental Studies:

  

For more information on wildland mitigation strategies visit Fire Adapted Communities.  For further information on Firewise landscaping and construction check out this information pamphlet.  What you will learn is that Firewise is not advocating 'moonscaping', but rather sustainable neighborhoods in a fire driven ecosystem. 

We have changed our forest because we choose to live there.  Let's adapt to nature and Firewise our home and neighborhoods - let's become a recognized Firewise Communites/USA® site and help our community become more Fire Adapted.

6a00d8351b9f3453ef017d41943e0c970c-800wi.jpg

Over the last several years the US Forest Service has developed a wildland fire risk potential map of the lower 48 states. The specific objective of the wildland fire risk potential map is to depict the potential for wildfire that would be difficult for suppression resources to contain, based on past fire occurrence and estimates of wildfire likelihood and intensity from sophisticated fire simulation models. Areas with higher wildland fire risk potential values, therefore, have a higher probability of experiencing high-intensity fire with torching, crowning, and other forms of extreme fire behavior.


Map 1: Wildfire risk potential version 2013, data origin & source: USDA Forest Service [Click on map to get a better view]

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Graph 1: 2013 wildland fire risk potential classes as a percentage of total conterminous land area of the lower 48 states. [Click on graphs to get a better view]

 

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Table 1: Area breakout of the 2013 wildland fire risk potential data  [Click on graphs to get a better view]

 

After discussing this new map with the a US Forest Service Spatial Fire Analyst, Greg Dillon, it became apparent that trying to compare this map with previous versions, namely the 2007 version is not appropriate as the modelling and methodology has evolved considerably since then.  Moving forward, baseline comparisons with future wildland fire risk potential map versions is anticipated because a standard approach has been defined.

 

The Insurance Institute for Business and Home Safety (IBHS) posted a great blog earlier today, in honor of National Severe Weather Preparedness Week this week. We thought we would share it for all of our readers. </p>

 

!http://nfpa.typepad.com/.a/6a00d8351b9f3453ef017c3764aa9a970b-200wi|src=http://nfpa.typepad.com/.a/6a00d8351b9f3453ef017c3764aa9a970b-200wi|alt=IBHS|style=width: 180px; margin: 0px 0px 5px 5px;|title=IBHS|class=asset asset-image at-xid-6a00d8351b9f3453ef017c3764aa9a970b!Prolonged drought conditions are bringing wildfires to communities that while at risk may not have experienced this hazard in recent memory. Be a Force of Nature during National Severe Weather Preparedness Week, March 3-9, 2013, by learning what you, your family and your community can do to become more fire adapted. Taking steps now will significantly reduce the chances of a wildfire damaging your property.


Wildfires can go by many names: brush fires, grass fires, forest fires, etc. All have one thing in common – they can quickly spread and create embers that can land on properties well outside of the actual area exposed to flames. Once embers land on something combustible on your home or business, they can ignite the material and spread fire to the entire structure. 


Firefighters across the country are working with residents to help minimize wildfire risks through the [Ready, Set, Go! | http://www.wildlandfirersg.org/] Program. The program has a three-pronged approach toward getting you ready for wildfire season.

 

 

To find out more about the Ready, Set, Go program, all of the organizations who play a part in reducing wildfire risk, and Fire Adapated Communities, please read the full IBHS blog now.&#0160;

Firewise HomeSkipping out on mitigation, just because firefighters will try their hardest to prevent your home from burning down, is not a viable approach to dealing with wildland fires. There are a few problems with risking the well-being of your property by being entirely dependent upon fire departments.

Brush fires might not draw the attention of a fire department until they are advancing on homes, and they grow in strength as they spread uphill. As about 85% of our nation’s fire departments rely on volunteers, it can be difficult for the volunteer departments to respond as quickly as they would like.

The natural land around your home, while picturesque, can also hinder the efforts of firefighters. If it’s uphill, far from water and/or has narrow winding roads, reaching any given house if many are threatened becomes a daunting task.

 For more information and frequently asked questions, visit the Firewise page.

http://nfpa.typepad.com/.a/6a00d8351b9f3453ef017d41918f07970c-piRiverside_photoIn Riverside County a wildfire (Jurupa Fire), February 28 - March 3 included voluntary evacuations in the areas of Greenbrier Trail and Grassy Trail in the City of Riverside. At one point 1,846 residents of Riverside were without power.  Some of the cooperating agencies that assisted were: CAL FIRE/Riverside, Corona FD, Department of Fish and Wildlife, Morongo Fire Department, Murrieta Fire Protection District, Orange County Fire Authority, Pechanga FD, Riverside City FD, Riverside City PD, Riverside County Fire Department, Orange County Fire, Riverside County Roads, Riverside County
Sheriff’s Office, Southern California Edison.

Residents here in Southern California can take preventive steps to protect probably one of the biggest investment of their lives, their home. 

There are many simple things that can be done now to make your property safer, these include:

  1. Cleaning leaves and other flammable materials from your gutter
  2. Removing vegetation from underneath your decks
  3. Keeping the area 5 feet from your home free of flammable materials is especially helpful.   Use non-combustible mulch like river rock for this area in particular
  4. Make sure that you have vents that meet the current fire code.
  5. Limb trees at least 6 feet up and 10 feet away from your home
  6. Remove dead material such as accumulated leaves and sticks after the winter from at least 30 feet around your home
  7. Make sure that plants around your home are healthy and well cared for
  8. Remove the winter’s accumulation of flammable materials or trash from around your home
  9. Make sure that wood piles are located at least 30 feet from your home

For more information and tips to make your home safer during wildfire events go to the Firewise website at www.firewise.org.  There are free online classes and handout materials that you can order to help you.  Find out how your community can become a nationally recognized Firewise Communities/USA® site.  Too learn more about what you can do to prepare for an evacuation visit Ready, Set, Go!

Oh no, I did not get the paperwork in for 2012 to renew our Firewise Community! DontForget

My phone has been ringing off the hook with this question:  Is it is too late to send in my 2012 Firewise renewal form?  I’ve sometimes had to reply, “Unfortunately, yes”.  “So what do I do now?” asks the forlorn community leader. “Don’t worry,” I say, “There’s always a way back in.”

I’ve observed that in my Northwest region, there were a few Firewise Communities/USA sites whose leaders did not send in their renewal form to maintain their recognition status for 2012, and the reasons vary.  Often Firewise Community leaders are retired folks. What we find in the Northwest is that retirees leave the area in October to migrate to the southern states where the weather is pleasant during the winter.  These so-called “Snowbirds” usually travel by RV or have a second home in the warm southern states.  While the Snowbirds bask in the sun, we who are left behind endure the cold and look for any amount of sunlight to get our weekly supply of vitamin D.  All kidding aside, when these residents head south and haven’t already sent in their Firewise renewal paperwork, it is very difficult for them to retrieve the information and documents needed to complete the renewal form. 

Some Firewise Community homeowners just forget and need a reminder, while others just say there is no more interest in the community to continue the Firewise recognition effort.  They are looking for motivation -- the social science of our jobs in the Firewise program. 

Fires are great motivators.  When a fire damages a home or threatens a community, one of the first things homeowners ask, what they can do to make a difference so this tragedy does not repeat itself!  But if there is no fire, how can I motivate these residents to take action?  Maybe it’s some “S-eleven” - as my distinguishedDollar Firewise Manager would say, yes the mighty dollar sign.  The good news is that it doesn’t take many dollars for most communities to renew their recognition status.  There are often cost-share programs from our local, state and federal governments to help offset the cost of fuel mitigation work in the community.  Plugging in a cleanup day using a cost-share can help you with your annual Firewise Day event, and you can count up volunteer hours worked worth $21.79 per hour to meet your annual Firewise Renewal investment of $2.00 per capita within your neighborhood.  Your community might also be motivated by our 2013 Firewise Challenge, where communities in the most active states have a chance to win prizes!

Even if you forgot or were unable to fulfill the 2012 Firewise renewal commitment, don’t take down your Firewise Community sign yet!  Keep the sign up for 2013 and send in your renewal once you have your Firewise Day and have completed the $2.00 per capita commitment. Don’t forget to follow your community plan and any changes in your contact information.  Start working on this now, don’t procrastinate!  With the effort you make now, your home and community will be safer from wildfire this fire season. The earlier you renew, the earlier your community can be part of the Firewise Challenge. And I won’t hear from you in 2014 asking if it is too late to send in your 2013 Firewise Community Renewal Form!

 Project Ideas - March Fire Break

Projects that reduce wildfire risk and increase preparedness can be accomplished by a broad range of ages; and come in a variety of time commitments, with some doable in just a few hours. You might be asking - what can I do in one day to be safer from wildfire? And the answer is a lot!

To help get you started we’ve developed more than two dozen project ideas using Firewise principles that can be utilized by individuals, families and groups. With the youngest participants in mind, most can be accomplished without power tools or monetary costs.

You can invest time at your own home doing a project with family members, or organize a group to help a neighbor that needs assistance getting work completed. Wildfire safety also means making others aware, and there’s plenty of options for that too: set-up a table at a shopping center to distribute free wildfire education information, or host a garage sale and donate the proceeds to the local fire department’s wildland fire team.

Make your actions speak loudly and see how personal efforts can contribute to reducing a community’s wildfire risk. Enlist the help of friends, relatives or a youth organization and get something GREAT accomplished! Challenge a club, school athletic team or faith based group to develop a project too, and see who can make the largest impact.

When your project is completed post a short video or photos that depict your accomplishment on our
Firewise Facebook page
.

What are you waiting for? Get started today and spread the word to others!

FH world 2
NFPA's Wildland Fire Operations Division sponsored a booth at theFirehouse World Expo in San Diego last month to share its resources with various fire agencies looking for tools to help them succeed in their efforts to reduce wildfire risk in their communities. It was exciting to be located next to some of the brand new fire trucks that the departments were looking at to help them with fire suppression efforts! 

The fire departments attending the expo took home our Firewise product catalog and other materials to learn more about Firewise and how their departments can use the program in their prevention efforts.  Did you know that Firewise has some great free tools available for you to use on their website?  These materials include the Firewise Toolkit, on-line learning classes, DVD’s and brochures. You can also check out our Fire Break blog and learn how your community can participate in our 2013 Firewise Challenge

Check out the Firewise website for more information about these materials and events at www.firewise.org

This past week both Faith Berry (Southwest 1 Firewise Advisor) and I visited the Orange County Fire Authority (California) where we met Sonja Powell (Assistant Fire Marshal) and Nick Pivaroff (Senior Fire Inspector) to discuss the Firewise Communities/USA recognition program.

During the course of the conversation Sonja directed us to their wonderful Ready, Set, Go! website. One of the more interesting sections that is complimentary to Firewise can be found in the Ready section under vegetation management. The video on plant separation is particularly helpful as it provides great explanations on vertical and horizontal plant separation.  The application of these principles can really affect the vertical and horizontal continuity of vegetation in one's yard.  Following these recommendations can significantly reduce home and surrounding landscape ignitability.

http://nfpa.typepad.com/.a/6a00d8351b9f3453ef017c374c929b970b-piOrange CountyRSG

http://nfpa.typepad.com/.a/6a00d8351b9f3453ef017d41833e89970c-piData_ProjectThis past November, NFPA’s Wildland Fire Operations Division with the help of the National Association of State Foresters (NASF) and the US Fire Administration (USFA) convened a group of 18 wildland fire data reporting experts from local, state and federal organizations  to discuss different wildland fire data collection, reporting and research initiatives that are occurring throughout the United States.

The fundamental purpose of the meeting was to answer this complex question: How can wildland fire organizations consolidate existing wildland fire agency and national fire incident reporting system data sets effectively and efficiently to produce an accurate national cohesive wildland fire risk profile?

For more information about this ongoing initiative please visit this NFPA link to download a copy of the meeting report.

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