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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

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