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Hidden Valley Meadows Vista is the state of Washington’s 100thFirewise Community! This was such an honor for me to attend this event, with so many individuals that should be congratulated over the past decade for their efforts to achieve this milestone. Washington now has 100 of the 900 national Firewise communities in 40 participating states. Many years ago, Washington fire agencies and residents saw a need for the Firewise Communities/USA Recognition Program in their state and took action. The Hidden Valley Meadows Vista Community was the product of residents, the Kittitas County Conservation District, Washington Department of Natural Resources and the local Fire Department collaborating with passion, motivation, volunteer hours and some cost share assistance.

CleElum 1Last August the Hidden Valley Meadows Vista Community of Cle Elum, Washington endured the catastrophic Taylor Bridge Fire that burned over 36 square miles and destroyed 61 homes. Homeowner Carolyn Bergland looks at the now lush green hills around her home where her property was spared from last summer’s wildfire due to taking action before the fire, creating defensible space so a grass fire could not reach her home in addition to building their home with a fire resistant roof material to prevent ember ignition. 

Carolyn, the local Firewise sparkplug understands that wildfire will always be a part of the landscape and also knows that wildfires have benefits for the ecosystem. Creating fire resilient landscapes, effective wildland fuel mitigation efforts, evacuation preparedness, safe emergency personnel response and fire control as well as creating Fire Adapted Communities will be the answer to those who want to live compatibly with wildfire without becoming a victim. Participating in NFPA’s Firewise Communities/USA Recognition Program, Fire Adapted Communities and the International Association of Fire Chiefs' Ready, Set, Go! Program will greatly improve the odds of a homeowner staying safer from wildfire by taking action before smoke is on the horizon. 

The state of Washington’s fire agencies and conservation districts are nationally recognized for empowering their residents to take the steps necessary to prepare their communities for wildfire through this Firewise accomplishment.

(Photo:  Fire Chief Russ Hobbs and Firewise sparkplug and host, Carolyn Berglund)

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Thousands of campers and residents have been displaced by a wildfire that is happening 10 miles NNW of Santa Barbara.  Click on the active wildfire icon on the above interactive map to learn more about the wildfire as it progresses.


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Currently there are 903 active Firewise Communities/USA sites.  The link to the web map application (view larger map)  will allow you to locate active sites, inactive sites, weather points, active large fires and reports.  To turn off these layers simply click on the layers tab.  Additonal functionality includes basemaps, measurements (distance, lat/long), location finder, sharing and printing. 

Please contact if you have any concerns about the location of a specific Firewise Communities/USA site displayed in this interactive mapper.

Every year firefighters in Missouri get together during the annual Firefighters Association of Missouri (FFAM) conference. This conference is well attended by 400-500 firefighters from all over Missouri. This is a time that everyone can gather and network, attend classes and an expo and have some friendly competition in the Firefighter Games.

This years FFAM conference was held in Carthage, Missouri. earlier this month. Carthage is in Southwest Missouri and brought in 12 new Firewise Communities last year. With the Firewise Communities/ USA program becoming more popular with fire departments in Missouri, we were asked to set up a booth at the expo.  In between classes and the firefighter games, people strolled through the expo to gather information on a variety of services available. During the expo, I was able to talk to a variety of firefighters from across the state about the benefits of beginning the Firewise process. Everyone that I talked to supported the Firewise concepts but were not very familiar with the process to become recognized. This was a prime time to be able to talk to a number of areas that could potentially become newly recognized Firewise Communities/ USA communities in Missouri. I handed out a lot of information throughout the 2 day conference and caught up with some old friends as well as made some new ones.

 Image 1: Firefighters testing there skills at the FFAM conference.

The Firefighters Association of Missouri,, is an organization that is available to the Fire Service in Missouri. There are approximately 8,000 members and they offer a variety of benefits for the membership. Some of the benefits include, a voice in legislation and a representative with the National
Volunteer Fire Council, a Line of Duty benevolence program, assistance with eye glasses repair, college scholarships, low cost fire schools, low cost Accidental Death and Dismemberment insurance, discounts on training materials, a bi-monthly newsletter and a variety of other services.


Our Australian Counterparts

Posted by ryan.quinn Employee May 22, 2013

AustraliaAs we start to look ahead at the upcoming summer months, we can take a note from our friends Down Under. Australia’s summer (our winter) was particularly brutal this year. The spring Firewise How To newsletter looks examines the extraordinary fire conditions brought on by dry, windy, and sometimes over 113-degrees-Fahrenheit months in the southeast.

Shortly after 2013 began, five of Australia’s six states combated fires, and conditions were dangerous enough to warrant “catastrophic” fire warnings for four areas in New South Wales – the most severe fire warning designation possible. Learn about the impact of Australia’s 2013 fire season in the newsletter.

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

  • Recommendations for landscaping, including which mulch is the safest to use in high-risk wildfire areas
  • An updated Firewise Communicators Resource Guide with tips and templates you can use for community meetings and media interviews
  • The 2012 Firewise Communities/USA Annual Report
  • An introduction to the newest Firewise regional advisor, Patti Maguire
  • A recap of the May 17 Day of Service pilot project in Colorado

… 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.

Quiz screenshot
We are happy to announce that we are sponsoring the “Fire Service Safety & Health Quiz” Sweepstakes in conjunction with International Fire/EMS Safety and Health Week (which will be June 16-22, 2013). The theme of the week, and of the contest, will be “Saving Our Own… An Inside Job.”

The International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC) and the National Volunteer Fire Council (NFVC) are co-sponsoring this sweepstakes with NFPA. Career firefighters, volunteer firefighters and other fire department employees and fire service members are invited to take the online, interactive quiz, featuring 15 questions related to firefighter health and safety.

“Raising awareness and education for firefighter health and safety is always a priority,” said Ken Willette, NFPA’s division manager of Public Fire Protection and a former fire chief. “This quiz is a quick and promising way to refresh fire service members’ knowledge and improve the safety of their teams.”

The quiz will be offered between May 20 and June 18 at One sweepstakes entry will be given for a completed quiz through the Snapapp widget, with an additional entry if the quiz taker shares their result on Twitter.

On June 19, the 125 randomly selected winners will be announced. These winners will each receive a specially designed challenge coin commemorating this year’s International Fire/EMS Safety and Health Week. Read more details, and the full contest rules

!|border=0|src=|alt=WUIWeb|title=WUIWeb|class=asset asset-image at-xid-6a00d8351b9f3453ef017eeb45343d970d image-full!Our

friends at the[ California Fire Science Consortium |] hold great, FREE, one-hour

webinars on all kinds of wildfire topics. Next on their list is "Fire
Operations in the Wildland-Urban Interface
", presented by CAL FIRE

Battalion Chief Phill Veneris next Wednesday, May 22 at 12 pm Pacific Time.    


Chief Veneris is a CAL FIRE ICS Type 1

Incident Commander, Operations Section Chief, and Safety Officer. During this

presentation, he’ll discuss Firefighting Operations in the Wildland Urban

Interface from a California perspective, using information and products from

both his department, the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection

(CAL FIRE ) as well as the latest publications from FIrefighting

RESources of California

Organized for* P*otential

Emergencies (FIRESCOPE ). This information is

useful for both the company officer as well as the incident commander when

faced with a fire in the wildland urban interface and evacuating residents in

the fire’s path.  

You can register here:

Be sure to also check out the longlist of previous webinars, recorded for your

listening and viewing pleasure! Topics range from fire behavior to Firewise to

planning and community engagement. 

Upon the invitation of the Oklahoma State Forester - George Giessler, Todd Chlanda and I had the opportunity to attend the Oklahoma Governor’s Wildfire Preparedness Conference in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma this past Monday. The conference was very well supported with over 185 fire and emergency, and town planning professionals from throughout the state in attendance. 

The importance of this initiative cannot be understated.  Last year, while national media was fixating on the Waldo-Canyon Fire in Colorado Springs, Colorado, Oklahoma was dealing with its own quiet crisis.  Last year in the state of Oklahoma wildfires destroyed over 680 homes and business structures, with over 114,000 acres of land being burned.


Image 1: Governor Mary Fallin keynote speaker at the Oklahoma Governor's Wildfire Preparedness Conference 05/13/2013.

Mary Fallin the Oklahoma Governor was the keynote speaker and gave an outstanding speech in support of all the work that the emergency management, forestry services and fire departments do.  The Governor endorsed the Firewise Communities/USA® recognition program and reinfornced how important community action is when it comes wildfire preparedness and mitigation.

Oklahoma was one of the top performing states last year moving from 28 recognized communities to 41 communities.  Jim Reese the Secretary of Agriculture was quick to point out that Oklahoma was 3rd in the nation on a per captita basis when it comes to the number of recognized sites.  Moving forward this state performance metric will be documented on an annual basis in the Firewise Communities/USA Executive Summary.

Governor Fallin experienced first-hand the Oklahoman destruction and loss when she visited communities throughout the State last year during the major fire events.  One of the cute stories that she shared was the day they adopted a Labrador from the local animal shelter that had been displaced because of the wildfires.  When the dog was brought home her three children deliberated on what to call him.  The initial suggestion was to call him “Hotdog”.  In keeping with the family sentiment, the Governor being the good politician she is, was able to persuade the family to choose the more congenial name “Burnie” for the new family member.

On a more serious note, it was interesting to learn from Steven Glasgow (State Resource Conservationist) how the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRSC) is beginning to realize that they too have a big role to play in the National Wildland Fire Management Cohesive Strategy for wildfire in Oklahoma.  Oklahoma has 44 million acres of land that has a fire-based ecology. Steven highlighted the important role that private landowners, especially agricultural and private woodlot landowners could play in mitigating the wildfire risk not only on their landholdings but their adjoining neighbors who often times could be a residential community.  He went on to state that wildland fire mitigation is a very important consideration that is often neglected by landowners with dire economic and ecological consequences.  The NRSC administers many financial incentive program opportunities for private landowners.  One of the notable NRCS financial incentives programs that allow for natural resource planning and fuel mitigation is the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP). This program allows for adjoining private landowners to mitigate their properties and has proven especially helpful when these properties abut residential communities.

Image 2: Source - Steven Glasgow's NRCS presentation at the Oklahoma Governor's Wildfire Preparedness Conference 5/13/2013.

I was invited by Ryan S. Shane, a Resource Management officer with the Nevada Division of Forestry, to assist with a visit to the community of Jarbidgeon May 8.  It’s located in a very remote area of Elko County, Nevada, on the Idaho border.  From Elko, it was a three-and-a-half-hour drive because the pass through the mountains was still closed because of the snow.  The community itself is like a time capsule of the Old West, with buildings that date to the late 1800s.  The last stage coach robbery in the United States occurred in Jarbidge in 1916.  The perpetrator was convicted by one of the first uses of CSI principles: his bloody handprint. 

Along with Ryan and I, state forester Pete Anderson made the drive up from Elko, which meanderedFaith_NV_1
 through sage brush and unusual mountain formations. Antelope scampered in front of our SUV on the road and seemed to be checking the vehicle and occupants. I realized what a treasure this community is. The Jarbidge River is home to bull trout, a threatened species of fish. It was clear that the fire prevention efforts in this community would help to protect the beautiful ecosystem and water supply as well as the community.

The meeting was held in the Red Dog Saloon, the largest meeting place in the community with an interesting history of its own. Jarbidge, once a flourishing gold mining town in the 1920s, is now a small sleepy hamlet surrounded by wilderness areas including the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest. Nevada Forestry and US Forest Service staff joined me in explaining how residents and collaborators could work together to create a Firewise Community.  The Nevada State Division of Forestry and the US Forest Service are working on two small fuels projects around the community. Residents are interested in learning how they could make their community safer in the event of a wildfire. The residents realized the importance of protecting their watershed and homes.  Some recent improvements have been made in the community including a new fire station, waterFaith_NV_6 distribution facility and hydrants.  Homeowners realized there were many things they could do to improve the community and home safety including moving firewood at least thirty feet away from homes during fire season.

As residents of Jarbidge work hard with their agency partners to become fire adapted, they are not only helping to protect their community from fire but also helping preserve and enhance the beautiful natural areas that surround their
 community.  For more information about how your community can become recognized as a Firewise Communities/USA site go to  For information about how all the stakeholders in a community can collaborate together as a Fire Adapted Community go to

Photos by Faith Berry. Top left: A view on the outskirts of Jarbidge; top right: historic hotel in the center of town; center: Nevada State Forester Pete Anderson and Ryan S. Shane look at a site of a Nevada State fuels treatment area in close proximity to homes; bottom: members of the community met with collaborating partners including the Nevada Division of Forestry, the US Forest Service, the US Bureau of Land Management and NFPA's Firewise Communities program staff.


Hot in Texas

Posted by ryan.quinn Employee May 16, 2013

Teaxas A&MThe Texas A&M Forest Service has released a report on the state’s 2011 fire season. The report is easy-to-read, and focuses on the common factors in home destruction and survival. By breaking down the long-term and immediate impacts of development in wildfire-prone areas and documenting home losses and “saves,” it offers a comprehensive look at the benefits of being Firewise.

Among the primary factors leading to home ignition during the 2011 Texas wildfire season:

• Wildfires driven by high winds

• Landscapes with highly combustible vegetation, such as flammable plants

• Combustible attachments to homes that were not pre-treated with fire-resistant paint or chemicals

Go to the Spring Firewise How To newsletter to read more and get the link to the full report.

Event - May 11
Many communities have individuals that stand out as their resident champions when it comes to wildfire preparedness, and in Larimer County, CO one of those people is Wes Rutt.  Rutt wears a whole collection of hats including volunteer firefighter; outreach and education chairperson for the Colorado Tree Farmers; annual auction organizer to raise funds for the Rist Canyon Volunteer Fire Department; and wildfire preparedness advocate.  He’s recently added an additional hat to his collection - and that one has him vigilantly creating post-fire flood awareness.

Almost a year after the lightning caused High Park Wildfire in Larimer County, Colorado destroyed 259 homes and burned more than 87,000 acres in his community; Rutt wants area residents to be prepared before, during and after all types of natural disasters. 

Last Saturday morning, 125 people gathered in a horse arena amidst the background sounds of helicopters dropping straw on surrounding hillsides for erosion control and vegetative rehab. They'd come to participate in the Be Prepared event that Wes had spent hours coordinating.  Those in attendance came to learn more about the actions they need to take to reduce their wildfire and flooding risks from a dozen agencies, stakeholders, and industry professionals; including Regional Firewise Advisor Patti Maguire.

In every part of the nation, people like Wes work tirelessly to help their friends and neighbors get ready for the forces Mother Nature can throw at them.  If the Wes Rutt that lives in your community has moved away, or needs a much needed break, consider borrowing a hat or two from them this year and give it a try to see how it fits!  



The wildfire season is off to a fortuitously slow start; wildfires have burned an estimated 175,000 acres this year in the U.S., the lowest number to date in a decade, according to the National Interagency Fire Center. Experts have attributed this low figure to unusually cool weather patterns in the southeastern U.S., where the season's fires tend to form first.


Other areas of the country might not be as fortunate. A recent article in USA Todaypredicts that the West could get walloped, as "significant fire potential" is expected in nine states. "We've had above average temperatures and below-average precipitation in the West, a combination that doesn't bode well for a good season," Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack told the newspaper. California could be in particular trouble, since the state has already experienced a substantial increase in fire activity when compared to the average acreage burned for this time of year. 


Molly Mowery, NFPA's program manager for [Fire Adapted Communities |] and International Outreach, tells USA Today that taking preventative measures now could safeguard homes from ruin. NFPA's Firewise Communities Program offers an array of principles that can reduce the risk of wildfire damage.

For more information on these principles, visit the [Firewise website. |]

-Fred Durso of Service Project Montage This past Saturday was the pilot Wildfire Preparedness Day of Service in Colorado and my colleagues Michele Steinberg, Patti Maguire and I departed from the Denver Field Office bright and early to visit as many project sites as we could hit in one day. By late afternoon, we’d driven more than 200 miles and had stopped at four of the sixteen organized projects.  We had the privilege of interacting with more than a hundred people busily working on service projects in their communities.  We tried to come up with a favorite site, but found it impossible since each one had endeared us for different reasons. There were some goose bumps (in a good way) after witnessing the social capital communities generate when they work together to improve local issues.  We met volunteers of all ages donating their time and talents and marveled at their positive attitudes, happy dispositions and the sense of pride and accomplishment that permeated the air. 

At Northeast Teller County Fire Department in Woodland Park, we met Fire Chief Tyler Lambert and his crew that were partnering with two local Firewise Community Champions and the Colorado State Forest Service to educate residents about Firewise concepts; at Ute Park Elementary School in Green Mountain Falls we saw dozens of teens from a local high school helping Red Cross fill sand bags for distribution to area residents to help protect their homes from post-Waldo Canyon Fire flooding.  And in Black Forest, we watched as a very diverse group of multiple generations worked to thin a forest to improve the safety of a secondary egress route; and as the clock wound down we made our way to Roxborough Park where residents had spent the day learning from a wide range of wildland fire agencies about the importance of mitigation and evacuation planning. 

Those were just a sampling of the efforts that unfolded throughout the state – and I would be remiss if I didn’t share just a few more with you: in Alamosa a mitigation project was done around a historic pioneer stockade designated as a National Historic Landmark; Hosting employee volunteers built firefighter comfort kits that will be distributed to wildland firefighters on future fires and the Lower Valley Fire District in Fruita partnered with BLM, university students and homeowners to work on a fuels reduction project. It's so impressive to see what can be accomplished when individuals are empowered to come together and work to reduce their wildfire risk and make their communities a safer place to live. It was our privilege to meet some of  the amazing individuals that embraced the day of service and took the time and energy to coordinate both projects and volunteers.  We salute and thank all the participants!     


1,000 Safer Places:  the Firewise Challenge safer placesAs published earlier this year, the National Fire Protection Association through the national Firewise Communities/USA support program is promoting the Firewise throwdown to challenge states and communities to reach for our national goal of 1,000 recognized Firewise Communities/USA® sites by the end of 2013. To learn more about this challenge and to monitor our nation's progress through the rest of the year please ‘talk to the hand’.

A recent story about the fires in southern California documented one fire in Camarillo Springs that "moved through the...area without destroying a single home." While the opening paragraph credits "an army of firefighters" stationed in the area to protect homes, a closer read reveals that planning and preparation are credited with saving the day.

According to the Associated Press story picked up by Colorado's, "The good fortune of the Camarillo Springs area wasn't the result of luck or clairvoyance by firefighters. It came after years of planning and knowing that sooner or later just such a conflagration was going to strike."

The area developed some 30 years ago with fire in mind. The story says that homes were built with fire-resistant materials, roads accommodate emergency vehicles, and residents are required to clear brush and other combustible materials near dwellings.

According to the AP interview with  Neal Blaney, a board member of The Springs Homeowners Association and a 15-year resident, "All of our rooftops are concrete tile and all of the exteriors are stucco. There's no wood, so there's almost no place for a flying ember to land and ignite something." In addition, Blaney told reporters that volunteer emergency officers in the neighborhood gave the first alert to residents. As a result, when the flames got close, residents were ready to get out of the way of firefighters.

There was no mention of national programs like "Ready, Set, Go!" or Firewise principles called out by name. But no matter what you call them, applying these principles and practices can work to save homes and lives from wildfire. 

Photo from Firewise Photo Gallery taken in California is not representative of Camarillo Springs but is a general illustration of some principles (fire-resistant roof and siding) that help homes resist ignition from wildfire.


Gaming wildfire

Posted by ryan.quinn Employee May 7, 2013

Rowan FirewiseExplaining the behavior of wildfire, and the importance of its prevention, can be complicated on the best day. Explaining it to kids is a whole different process. In the Spring Firewise How To newsletter, Jennifer Turner, certified environmental educator in Kentucky’s Division of Forestry, developed a game to help children understand the scope of wildfire and the role of rangers and structural firefighters.

The N.E. Rowan County Firewise Council “held the event during fire prevention week and it was a hoot!” Turner said. “There were structural firefighters from three different volunteer fire departments and about 60 students. It was the county’s first year as a Firewise Council.”

Read about the game and other Firewise projects in the newsletter!


Wildfire Awareness Week is May 5 - 11

Know your role in wildfire safety

OLYMPIA – In recognition of Wildfire Awareness Week, May 5 – 11, the Washington State Department of Natural Resources (DNR) encourages everyone to learn their role in preparing for wildfire safety.

This year, DNR is encouraging homeowners, land managers, first responders, developers, business owners, and civic leaders to focus on “Knowing Your Role” when it comes to preparing communities for wildfire. Visit the Fire Adapted Communities website  to learn more about defensible space, fire-resilient building construction, community wildfire prevention planning, the Firewise Program and Ready, Set, Go!

Also, this is the first year that governors from Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Nevada, and California have joined together to proclaim Wildfire Awareness Week. It’s an important week to learn more about joining forces in local communities to become better prepared for wildfire safety.

If designing or updating a home’s landscape, think of ways to incorporate firebreaks (things that don’t burn) into the landscape design. Defensible space doesn’t have to be an eyesore. Some examples of firebreaks are: concrete, brick or gravel walkways, concrete flower box borders or planters, and water features, such as a pond. Even the backyard swimming pool can serve as a firebreak. Go to  more specific tips on how to protect homes from wildfire.

Wildfire Awareness Week events around the state of Washington

Chipping Day at Lake Cushman

What:       Lake Cushman Firewise Council Chipping Day

                 Chipping your yard debris throughout the community

When:      May 4 — 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Where:     Lake Cushman Maintenance Company, 3740 N Lake Cushman Rd, Hoodsport

Contact:    Jane Potter at 360-802-7030 or email at

Ready, Set, Go! Wildfire Prevention Education

What:       Roll out the new campaign Ready, Set, Go!

                 Education for people to protect their homes

When:      May 7 – 4 p.m.

Where:     Kittitas Valley Fire and Rescue Station 2-1

                 2020 Vantage Highway, Ellensburg

Contact:    Deputy Chief Rich Elliot at 509-933-7231

Burn Barrel Exchange

What:       Exchange your burn barrel for a compost bin

When:      May 9, 10, and 11 — 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Where:     West Waste Landfill, Highway 110, Forks, WA

Contact:    Bryan Suslick at 360-374-2800 or email at

Washington’s 100th Firewise Community

What:       Hidden Valley Meadows/Vista Community receives Washington’s 100th Firewise Award

When:      May 10 — 10 a.m.

Where:     140 Leo Lane, Cle Elum, WA  98922

Contact:    Suzanne Wade at 509-925-8585 or email at

Media Contact: Janet Pearce, Communications Manager, 360-902-1122,  

 May 2013 artwork

The Napa County, CA Firewise Foundation's monthly themes and artwork from their young artists showcase, highlights a piece for May from 9-year-old Haley Hutchins.  Miss Hutchins is a member of the Boys and Girls Club of Napa Valley.

The theme is Planting a Firewise and Waterwise Garden. Her artwork shows flames from a wildfire igniting a home and garden and stresses the importance of selecting the right waterwise and firewise choices for both your home and landscaping.   

Choosing the right plants and mulches are an important decision when building a Firewise landscape and deciding how and where they’re arranged deserves equal consideration. 

Incorporating hardscape elements (sidewalks, paths, patios, and retaining walls) is a good way to help break up contiguous fuels throughout your property.

Careful plant choices can help save water too!  A waterwise garden features many varieties and can be very compatible with Firewise concepts. Most cooperative extension offices can provide information – check with your local or state office to get more details.  

Our congratulations to Haley for being selected as May’s Artist of the Month!

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