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 distinguished 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!