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The recent Black Forest Fire destroyed homes near Colorado Springs, Colorado.

The exorbitant cost of fighting catastrophic wildfires is having a negative impact on prevention efforts in the United States.


+The New York Times+ reports that federal dollars allotted to reduce fire risksthinning trees and clearing acres of deadfall, for examplecontinue to dwindle as the cost of fighting wildfires increases, prompting the government to dip into funds initially reserved for prevention efforts.

"There is a growing consensus in the West that dollar for dollar, these kinds of prevention efforts are paying off," Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon told the+ Times.+ "And when the big fire breaks out, the bureaucracy steals money from the prevention fund and the problem gets worse. The Forest Service has become the fire service."


Exemplifying the problem, the Times reports that the Forest Service 20 years ago spent 13 percent of its budget on firefighting. Today, that figure has swelled to 40 percent.


While studies have underscored the effectiveness of thinning forests and other governmental efforts, homeowners also play a crucial role in keeping fires in check. More than 900 communities nationwide have taken part in the Firewise Communities/USA® Recognition Program, another effective approach in mitigating wildfire risks. Check out NFPA&#39;s Firewise site for success stories, a Firewise communities map, and an array of no-cost resources.</p>

As wildfires burn across the western United States, the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) and Ad Council launch new public service ads (PSAs) targeting homeowners and community members in fire-prone areas. The new PSAs represent the continuation of the Fire Adapted Communities initiative which raises awareness about the threat of wildfire and helps individuals and communities mitigate wildfire damage. 

A single ember that escapes from a wildfire can travel over a mile. New PSAs created pro bono by Draftfcb highlight the risk these embers pose to homes, structures and communities and remind audiences that you can’t control where an ember will land, but you can control what happens when it does. Community members are encouraged to take simple, proactive steps to protect their families and neighbors by preparing in advance and addressing the wildfire hazards around their homes and in their communities

Watch the PSAs below and read the full press release.








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

An update on the Colorado wildfires and the resources NFPA provides to help communities create a safer place to live

  • Information about a handful of U.S. states that will most likely see significant wildfire activity this year
  • A link to a Journal article that highlights the work NFPA is doing with land use planners and developers regarding wildfire mitigation and safety
  • An update on our Backyards & Beyond conference including speakers, special presentations and information about Salt Lake City
  • A link to our newest FAC infographic that provides residents with a visual roadmap for creating safer, more fire adapted communities

… 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.

Authored by: Hank Blackwell, Fire Adapted Community Ambassador

The City of Austin and Travis County, Texas have jointly funded the creation of a  Austin CWPP
(CWPP). The quote from the project description clearly supports the importance of the concepts of the Fire Adapted Communities program:   “Travis County and the City of Austin are partnering to produce a county-wide Community Wildfire Protection Plan.  This Plan will provide the framework for the County and City’s efforts to become a Fire-Adapted Community.”

One of the primary goals for the CWPP is to establish a framework for both the incorporated and non-incorporated areas to facilitate connections between existing Firewise Communities as well as those in development; provide a template with the greater CWPP that can be utilized by smaller municipalities and subdivisions as a foundation for more specific, tailored plans; offer motivation and understanding of the meaning and understanding of the value of the Fire Adapted Communities Program.

This CWPP is hoped to become a model for the State of Texas as well as other states in terms of its’ importance as a planning and preparedness tool, a prevention and mitigation program and a public education and information platform.

The Austin/Travis County Joint Wildfire Task Force, a multi-agency, multi-disciplinary group will serve as the program overseer and guide. The depth and breadth of their influence and knowledge, coupled with their unique vision and creativity will ensure the development of a meaningful tool, as well as a program that will establish a foundation for a larger area Fire Adapted Community and concurrent mind-set among constituents.

Congratulations, Austin City/Travis County for your vision!

Lightning safetyThis year, from June 23rd to 29th, the National Weather Service is commemorating Lightning Safety Week. This is an important educational week for them, and us, because summer is the peak season for one of the nation's deadliest weather phenomena--lightning. Though lightning strikes peak in summer, people are struck year round. In the United States, according to the latest NFPA report, local fire departments respond to an estimated average of 22,600 fires per year that were started by lightning. These fires cause an average of nine civilian deaths, 53 civilian injuries, and $451 million in direct property damage per year. 

Lightning is also one of the major causes of wildfires due to its ability to ignite trees, brush and grass. According to the report, the average number of acres burned per fire is much higher in lightning fires than in fires caused by humans. The National Interagency Fire Center statistics show that in 2008-2012, an average of 9,000 (12%) of reported wildland fires were started by lightning per year; the average lightning-caused wildfire burned 402 acres, nine times the average of 45 acres per human-caused fire. 

The National Weather Service has provided many educational resources on their website, including information on;

  • Safety: Learn what you need to do to stay safe when thunderstorms threaten.
  • Victims: Learn what happens to people who are struck by lightning and look at fatality statistics for the U.S.
  • Science: Learn how thunderstorms develop and what happens during a lightning discharge.
  • Myths and Facts: Get answers to many of the questions you have always wondered about
  • Teachers: find curriculum guides, presentations games, activities, and more.
  • Kids: Download games, videos, coloring pages and other fun stuff.
  • More Resources: Download toolkits, posters, pamphlets, and other information to help communities, organizations, and families stay safe from the dangers of lightning

In addition, NFPA offers lightning safety tips in an easy to read tip sheet. Check them out above or download these NFPA safety tips on lightning. 

FCSince the start of the Firewise Challenge in January, we've been thrilled with the responses we've received from so many communities across the country regarding the mitigation work they've been doing to reduce wildfire risk. To date, 909 communities are actively involved in helping to make a difference ... what about your neighborhood? Will yours be one of the 1,000 communities that become part of the official Firewise family?

We'd love to hear from all of the communities whose residents are working together on projects and activities, and hosting events, all in the name of wildfire safety. Send us your photos and your stories or give us a shout out through our Facebook page and Twitter handle.

Want to kow where your state stands? Get a sneak peak at the leading states by checking out our leaderboard. We will be updating the board each month so come back often! 

Why wait to get involved? The 2013 wildfire season is upon us ... now is the time to get started on mitigation activities that will help keep you and your family, your homes and neighborhoods safer. Learn more about what you can do and how to get started by visiting the Firewise website, Ready to join the Challenge? Review our guidelines and description of the campaign and and as always, let us know if we can answer any questions.

NFPA staff are keeping their eyes on the Doce Fire on the Prescott National Forest in Arizona, about 8 miles northwest of the city of Prescott. While it is growing in size (about 7,500 acres as of June 20 at 3 pm Eastern), it appears for now that its pattern is moving away from more heavily inhabited areas.

We know that Prescott, Yavapai County and surrounding lands are prime territory for Firewise Communities/USA sites and that wildfire mitigation and safety have been going on there since 1990. Many residents know that this is the time to keep aware and prepare their homes to resist ignition. Simple precautions such as moving patio furniture, mats, and other flammable items from decks and porches can help, as can sweeping away pine needles and leaf litter from the home's foundation and surfaces. See more tips from Firewise here.  And stay posted on the fire from local authorities and the InciWeb fire site. Preparation now could save your home and your life.

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Click on the map to navigate. Green diamonds represent NFPA Firewise Communities/USA recognized sites. Fire location and perimeter data from federal agency sources.

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Observing mitigation behind the Howell home in TimberRidge, AZ


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Jerry Borgelt points out mitigation work to Hylton Haynes

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Display of Firewise community pride in Hidden Valley Ranch, AZ

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Bruce Carr discusses Yavapai Hills wildfire safety planning

The recent Doce Fire, just west of
Prescott in the Prescott National Forest, highlights the continued threat to
homes and property in Arizona and across much of the west including New Mexico,
California and Colorado.

In March of last year, Hylton Haynes, Faith Berry and Michele Steinberg visited with state forestry officials, fire department staff
and a number of community residents in Arizona to see all of the great
mitigation work going on there. Below is the blog post Michele wrote about
their trip and what they learned. We thought it was worth bringing this
information to the forefront once again. As Hylton aptly said during his time
there, “Prescott sets a “gold standard” for how a high-risk community can
organize and act to increase wildfire safety for all.” 


Last week, Hylton Haynes , Faith Berry and I visited with state forestry officials, fire department staff and a number of community residents in Arizona.&#0160; We were delighted to learn from State Forester Scott Hunt of his agency’s commitment to Firewise, with a push this year to gain at least 30 new recognized communities. We were invited to the Prescott Area WUI Commission (PAWUIC) meeting to observe an organized core committee in action. And, thanks to PAWUIC chairman and local resident Bruce Carr, we were given a whirlwind tour of individual communities in the Prescott area so that we could see the great work going on there.


Our tour began at the home of Shirley and Walt Howell in TimberRidge, the very first recognized Firewise Communities/USA site in the nation. We learned how residents are treating vegetation around their homes, reducing and removing potential fuel for wildfires. The Prescott area has a unique mix of trees and plants that defy typical “fuel modeling” analyses used to predict wildfire intensities. TimberRidge and many other subdivisions also feature homes nestled into this vegetation and built very close to one another. This means neighbors have overlapping “home ignition zones” and must work together to reduce common risks.


Prescott’s Fire Department is rare in its longtime establishment of a Wildland Fire Division . &#0160;Division Chief Darrell Willis, who has led Firewise and related efforts for more than a decade, explains the rationale for this emphasis. The City of Prescott has 18,100 structures in areas of high wildfire risk, with about 25,000 people inhabiting these structures, with an assessed value of more than $3 billion. Willis relies on code enforcement officer Ted Ralston and forester Todd Rhines to provide mitigation advice and services to residents. Willis, Ralston and Rhines participated in most of our visits to communities and were praised by property owners for their success in educating and assisting residents.


Outside the city limits, the Highland Pines property owners’ association has been long engaged in PAWUIC and has taken much of the mitigation on themselves. The community’s location in an unincorporated area of Yavapai County means that rules are less stringent and much work has to be done by persuasion and voluntary effort. Firewise committee chair Jerry Borgelt showed us around and told us about the monthly chipper days conducted from March to September.&#0160; State forestry has also contributed mitigation work in public lands bordering this area, and we were able to see a fuel mitigation project in action on the Prescott National Forest supported by the community.


Residents of Hidden Valley Ranch, a recognized Firewise Community since 2006, welcomed us to a meeting in their community center and provided details on the community’s history, development, and wildfire mitigation activities. Residents team with the Prescott Fire Department crew to provide “drive by” inspections of properties, resulting in an excellent compliance rate with community safety rules.&#0160; The community has successfully administered grants totaling more than $200,000 in the past two years from the state, the PAWUIC group, and the County . These funds have been used on a variety of projects, most notably a goat-grazing project in some of the more steep and hilly commonly-owned areas.&#0160; These projects have created jobs for qualified local contractors who have enjoyed additional work in the “off season” in Hidden Valley Ranch.

Yavapai Hills, where Bruce Carr has engaged residents to become Firewise over the past two years, is a large development that came about in phases. While there is a single homeowners association, there are dozen covenant documents guiding development in the different segments of the community. Firewise guidelines have been developed into the community’s lengthy and thorough architectural rules document. The HOA has also committed $20,000 of its own funds to support Firewise activities in the community.


Early on March 1, we attended the PAWUIC monthly meeting. It regularly brings together more than 40 stakeholders, including representatives of local Firewise communities, for a well-organized, tightly run agenda that serves to inform, coordinate and educate all parties. Our group was impressed with this organization, which came about in the 1990s to address the already well-known wildfire risks in the region. We shared some new products from the Firewise catalog and were able to meet and greet many participants.


Our group also had the opportunity to present to state and local officials at the Prescott City Council Chambers , where we discussed “what’s new” with Firewise, Prescott’s use of the IAFC “Ready, Set, Go!” program and our observations on the success of Prescott’s collaborative efforts to reduce wildfire risk.&#0160; As Hylton Haynes pointed out to the group, Prescott sets a “gold standard” for how a high-risk community can organize and act to increase wildfire safety for all.

--[Michele |]’s 5th Backyards & Beyond Wildland Fire Education Conference will be held in Salt Lake City, November 14 – 16, 2013. With more than 60 breakout sessions, five educational tracks and four special presentations, the conference offers leading wildland fire experts, community planners, civic leaders, homeowners and residents, insurance professionals, landscape architects, and physical and social researchers and scientists the opportunity to build relationships and explore answers to important wildland fire safety questions that can be taken back to communities and the workplace.

Our new brochure highlights all of the great sessions, presentations and topics that will be addressed including community evacuation strategies, wildfire planning and suppression tactics, and current social and ecological research concerning residents in high risk areas.

Download the brochure from our website and register today!

According to news reports the 14,280 acre Black Forest Fire is 95% contained and 2,609 people remain evacuated.  At this time 509 homes have been destroyed, 28 damaged with the remaining 3,653 being unaffected.  Fire investigators believe the fire was human-caused. Estimated total cost of suppression activities on this fire amount to $8.5 million.

To gain some interesting insights on the mitigation strategies that were employed prior to the fire please visit this Colorado Public Radio interview with Keith Worley, President of Pikes Peak Wildfire Prevention Partners.  A non-profit organization that works with communities to prepare and carry out mitigation plans, including cutting trees and creating defensible space around homes.

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NFPA is soliciting session proposals for the 2014 NFPA Conference & Expo, to be held June 9-12, in Las Vegas. The NFPA Conference & Expo is widely regarded as the most comprehensive event in the industry. With approximately 5,000 attendees, it is the year's largest and most important event for the fire protection, life safety, and electrical industries.


!|src=|alt=Edsession|style=margin: 0px 0px 5px 5px;|title=Edsession|class=asset asset-image at-xid-6a00d8351b9f3453ef019103972ce1970c!If you'd like to share your knowledge and best practices, we invite you to send us your session proposals in any of the following topic areas:

    • Electrical

    • Fire Protection Engineering

    • Fire and Emergency Services

    • Emergency Preparedness/Business Continuity

    • Building and Life Safety

    • Loss Control/Prevention

    • Detection and Notification

    • Fire Suppression

    • Green Initiatives

    • Public Education

    • Research


Deadline: Monday, September 16<br />All proposals must be submitted online .

This is a great opportunity to share your knowledge and expertise, increase your exposure and visibility in your industry, add to your resume and your list of achievements, and meet valuable contacts and resources for your professional network. In addition, all speakers will receive a complimentary registration to the NFPA Conference & Expo.

For assistance or questions regarding:

In light of recent and devastating wildfires throughout the country, more and more people are talking about becoming fire adapted.  Listen to Molly Mowery, of the National Fire Protection Association, Sheryl Page, of the US Forest Service, and Vince Urbina, of the Colorado State Forest Service on KMTS radio while they discuss wildfire topics, best practices, and what it takes to make your community fire adapted.


Thanks to KMTS radio for the audio.

In light of the heightened wildfire activity in Colorado and in other states around the country recently, NFPA has been responding to a number of media inquiries regarding home safety and preparedness, community action plans, WUI regulations, evacuation planning and other questions regarding wildfire safety and mitigation. Of course it's great to be contacted by some of the leading names in the news, but it's even more heartening and more important for us to know our safety and preparedness message can be/is heard by thousands of residents living in high-risk wildfire areas.

NFPA's Wildland Fire Operations Division staff work tirelessly to reach out to residents every day to provide the latest information, tips and resources people can start using today to build safer communities for tomorrow, and we appreciate how the media is helping us to spread the word.

So as reporters continue to ask the big questions regarding wildland fire, we'll continue to help answer them, and connect folks with program information, organizations and resources that can help, including our national Firewise Communities Program, the Fire Adapted Communities initiative and other important wildfire safety and mitigation news, tips and highlights from our key partners and friends.

Here are two of our latest interviews and mentions that you may find of interest:

* Quick Fire Response Pays Off, Wall Street Journal, Sunday, June 16, 2013. Read about the emergency response and the evacuation planning process put in place during the Black Forest Fire.

* Wildfire Season:  7 Ways You Can Help Save Lives and Property, Christian Science Monitor, June 2013. Our Fire Adapted Communities initiative was highlighted in a great article that breaks down the FAC concept into simple steps we can all use. 

*Below is an infographic that recently appeared in the print edition of USA Today:


For the latest wildfire information, stay tuned here to our Fire Break blog, and check out our Facebook and Twitter platforms. Not only will we share our news and the news of our partners and friends with you, but we want you to share your information with us. We look forward to hearing from you. 

(Image of Firewise infographic courtesy of USA Today)


The state of Colorado has been under siege in recent years with notable events like the Waldo Canyon fireand the Black Forest fire(which is yet to be contained). With this heightened sense of wildfire awareness and the perils associated with trying to contain these disasters, Ryan Werner of Colorado Public Radio interviewed Ken Willette a Division Manager with the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) to learn more about firefighter fatalities report  that was recently published.&#0160; The good news is firefighter fatalities&#0160;have been&#0160;trending&#0160;down for the second consecutive year with 64 on-duty firefighter deaths in 2012 by the NFPA.


To learn more about this report and to gain a perspective from our researchers please visit this NFPA weblink .&#0160;

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Waldo Canyon
A scene from a video on community wildfire preparedness, produced by the Fire Adapted Communities Coalition.

News reports continue to describe the devastation of the Black Forest Fire, now considered the most destructive wildfire in Colorado history. Not too far from the site of the incident is Waldo Canyon, where a fire last year (formerly the most destructive in the state's history) destroyed 345 homes and forced 30,000 residents to evacuate.

The latest issue of NFPA Journal highlights a new report, "Lessons From Waldo Canyon," developed by the Fire Adapted Communities Coalition (FAC) that underscores the effects of mitigation efforts in this area. The article also discusses how NFPA is spreading the mitigation message, both domestically and globally. (Hint: South Africa is learning from NFPA, and vice versa.)

Read all of the details in Journal, and check out the video highlighting FAC's fact-finding mission in Waldo Canyon:

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Currently there are 909 active and 211 inactive Firewise Communities/USA® sites.  To learn more about the Firewise Challenge visit this weblink.  If you have any questions with regarss to the interactive mapper please email:

!|src=|alt=NPR|style=margin: 0px 5px 5px 0px;|title=NPR|class=asset asset-image at-xid-6a00d8351b9f3453ef01901d7bbe89970b!For the second year in a row, Colorado Springs  has been beset by&#0160;wildfire.&#0160; As National Public Radio&#39;s Kirk Siegler reports, the city and its emergency response crews are doing their best to take the threat in stride.&#0160; To listen to the interview and review the transcript visit the NPR website .

 Snippet photo for blog

A Colorado Springs Fire Department (CSFD) Strike Team was captured on video doing structure protection this past Wednesday on the Black Forest Fire currently burning in El Paso County, CO (an area north and east of the City of Colorado Springs).  Videographer Steve Schopper’s (also a CSFD employee) short video demonstrates the positive impact Firewise principles can have on a home; and it also shows the untreated areas that contributed to the home’s vulnerability and required firefighter intervention.  The video provides an invaluable visual opportunity that all wildland/urban interface residents should see!

If I had an opportunity to meet the residents of the home featured in this video, I’d give them a huge hug and congratulate them on all the positive things they did to prepare their property for a wildfire.  Many of the Firewise principles they performed were done long before the fire; and it’s my assumption others were done just prior to evacuation – all of which deserve immense kudos.  It’s obvious these residents took their responsibility for living in the wildland/urban interface seriously; and proactively made good choices for both the structure and landscaping. Their work provided firefighters the space and opportunity to defend the home. The positive actions that could be  ascertained from watching the video included:

- Trees were limbed up and low hanging branches removed

- No branches overhanging the roof

- Firewood was stored away from the structure (the recommended distance is 30 feet away)

- Patio furniture was moved off the deck and away from the structure prior to evacuating

- A stone material was used to construct the retaining wall  

- Stone steps were used to lead from the home into the forested area

-  Class A roofing materials 

- Trees were thinned       

After sharing the strengths of their efforts, I’d also let them know there were a few areas that could have further increased the home’s ability to withstand a fire without firefighter assistance:

- Remove the mulch in the 3 to 5 foot zone around the structure and replace it with pea gravel, river rock or other type of non-flammable material.  The mulch made the area very vulnerable to the fire.  For in-depth information on mulch choices reference the April 11, 2013, Fire Break Blog

- Shrubs were planted beneath windows - embers could ignite the vegetation and compromise the glass, causing it to break and providing an entry point for the fire to enter the home

- Native grasses should be mowed to a height of less than four inches

- It was hard to accurately tell from the video – but it appears the duff layer (the layer of moderately to highly decomposed leaves, needles, fine twigs, and other organic material found between the mineral soil surface and soil) could have been reduced (notice the firefighter working this area)

This video is also an excellent example of why homeowners should always heed evacuation notices and reject any desire to stay and personally defend their home.  The firefighters are wearing specialized personal protective equipment (PPE) that protects them from heat, smoke, and hot gasses; and they have extensive training and experience. 

My thanks and appreciation to my friend, and former colleague Steve Schopper, for providing an amazing learning tool that I’m sure will be viewed by thousands.!|src=|alt=Royal-gorge-bridge-fireJOHNWARK|style=margin: 0px 5px 5px 0px;|title=Royal-gorge-bridge-fireJOHNWARK|class=asset asset-image at-xid-6a00d8351b9f3453ef019103501bfb970c!


Among the many fires erupting throughout the state of Colorado this week is the Royal Gorge fire, near Cañon City.&#0160; Inciweb , the online national Incident Information System, currently puts this fire at over 3,000 acres and only twenty percent containment.&#0160; It has prompted mass evacuations and at least twenty structures have been confirmed as destroyed.&#0160;

In addition to the impact on residents, the fire has forced a temporary closure of the Royal Gorge Bridge and Park.  The Royal Gorge Bridge is one of the world’s highest suspension bridges, and allows park visitors to travel across a quarter-mile journey to experience the scenic beauty of the Royal Gorge, the “Grand Canyon of the Arkansas River.”  The bridge, built of both steel and wood materials, has been reported to have been damaged and initial reports suggested that the historic bridge tram may be destroyed.  Other park structures have also been damaged or destroyed.

Heavy smoke from the fire also prompted the evacuation of more than 900 prisoners on Tuesday night, June 11, at the Colorado Territorial Correctional Facility, a state prison southwest of Colorado Springs.  Prisoners were temporarily taken to other prison locations throughout the state.

Public safety efforts have been tremendously successful and there have been no reported injuries or fatalities. Other impacts from the wildfire, however, will no doubt result in large consequences for this small community.  The Royal Gorge Bridge and Park is a major tourist attraction and economic generator for the Cañon City area.  Not only does the park lose visitors when it’s closed, but so does the entire community that relies on hotel guests, restaurant patrons, souvenir shoppers, and more. Rebuilding will strain already limited budgets.  Mass evacuation of a prison also requires advance planning due to the extra precautions necessary when transferring prisoners.


These two examples remind us how wildfires can broadly impact a community by threatening many different assets, or “values at risk”&#0160;– including critical infrastructure, neighborhoods, businesses, parks, and other facilities.&#0160; Preparing for wildfire by taking actions to reduce risk is an important message delivered by the Fire Adapted Communities Coalition.&#0160; Preparation should include an analysis of a community’s values at risk. Risk identification can be done through hazard mitigation planning or a Community Wildfire Protection Plan.&#0160; Once the risks are identified, specific actions to reduce risk must be undertaken.&#0160; Actions typically include fuel management activities on community landscapes and individual properties, response and evacuation planning, replacement of flammable materials with fire-resistive materials, and modification of other potential ignition sources. Actions can be supported through education and outreach programs, zoning ordinances, building codes, or other tools. Community-wide actions will lead to a more fire adapted approach.&#0160; For more information on making your community fire adapted, visit .



Photo credit/source: John Wark (</p>

Blog 3In light of the recent wildfire activity in Colorado, NFPA and the Firewise Communities Program, together with the International Association of Fire Chiefs’(IAFC), have provided some valuable tips for Coloradans and others across the country who live in high-risk wildfire areas. Given the current level of wildfire activity in Colorado and across the west, residents should be prepared to be Ready, Set and Go, as outlined in IAFC’sReady, Set, Go! Program. Here’s what we suggest:

First, be Take personal responsibility and, whenever possible, prepare long before the threat of a wildfire so your home is ready in case of a fire. Some examples of this include:

  • Create defensible space around your house by clearing away dry vegetation such as grass, leaves and branches.
  • Examine, then replace or repair any shingles or roof tiles that are loose or missing to prevent ember penetration.
  • Cover exterior attic vents with metal wire mesh no larger than 1/8 inch to prevent sparks from entering the home.
  • Limit vegetation surrounding the home’s perimeter, at least 30-100 feet, depending on the area’s wildfire risk.

NFPA provides a more comprehensive Firewise tips checklist for homeowners that is available on the Firewise website and can help you get started today.

Other things to keep in mind before a fire: assemble emergency supplies and belongings in a safe spot. (Check out NFPA’s emergency preparedness/safety information page that has a number of resources and tips for residents including what to put in an emergency supply kit.) And make sure all members of your family know your planned escape routes.

Blog 2Second, Get Set: Get your family and home prepared at the onset of fire in your area. Gather family pets and have them prepared to evacuate. Pack your vehicle with your emergency items including medication and personal identification. Stay aware of the latest news from local media and your local fire department for updated information on the fire. Be prepared to evacuate your home if called to do so. 

In some cases, don’t feel like you have to wait for a formal announcement to evacuate. Leaving before the fire approaches your area is good practice and allows you and your family time to get someplace safe.

If you do have time before you evacuate, the following are some additional tips that can help keep your home safer from a wildfire:

  • Close and protect your home’s openings, including attic and basement doors and vents, windows, doors, and pet doors to prevent embers from penetrating your home.
  • Remove flammable drapes and curtains and close all shutters, blinds, or heavy non-combustible drapes. 
  • Close all the interior doors in your home and the fireplace screen. Open the fireplace damper.
  • Shut off any natural gas, propane, or fuel oil supplies at the source.
  • Connect garden hoses and fill any pools, hot tubs, garbage cans, tubs, or other large containers with water. Firefighters have been known to use the hoses to put out fires on rooftops.
  • Place a ladder against the house in clear view.
  • Disconnect garage door openers so the doors will open if there is no power.
  • Remove flammable      materials (propane tanks and firewood) within 3-5 feet of the home’s      foundation.
  • Move patio      or deck furniture, cushions, door mats and potted plants in wooden      containers either inside the house or as far away from the home, shed and      garage as possible. If it can catch fire, don’t let it touch the      house, deck or porch.

And Third ... Go: Do not linger once evacuation orders have been given. Leave early and stay away until your area has been cleared for return by local officials. Promptly leaving your home and neighborhood clears roads for firefighters to get equipment in placeto best maneuver the wildfire, and ensures you and your family’s safety.

I was also just alerted to great information and a checklist regarding evacation plans and procedures for residents courtesy of the El Paso County Sheriff's department. It's available on KKTV 11's website. Please check this out. I think you'll find the information valuable.

As always, you can learn more about keeping you and your family safe, and reducing your home’s risk for wildfire damage at Additionally, complimentary brochures, booklets, pamphlets, videos and much more can be found on the information and resources page of the website and ordered online through NFPA’s online wildfire safety catalog.


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Weather conditions all over Colorado resulted yesterday in a rash of fires in many areas of the state, at least four of them considered large fires, with the Black Forest Fire and Royal Gorge Fire destroying homes and damaging infrastructure in the past 24 hours.

In the case of Black Forest, a resort and retreat area known as La Foret was surrounded by fire forcing evacuation of owners and guests. My NFPA colleague Cathy Prudhomme and I were there on May 4 in support of a pilot Wildfire Preparednes Day of Service in Colorado. As I learned of the fire last evening, I wondered how many of the people I'd met and places I visited would be affected. I also reflected on the fact that so many people kept fire in mind and were willing to set aside a day or more of their time to voluntarily reduce the risk. 

We set aside a special day on May 4 to help Coloradans focus on wildfire preparedness. But it's true that any day, any time, is the time to prepare for wildfire when you live with the risk of this natural phenomenon. The time is now if you are preparing your summer cabin for the season. The time is now if you are completing your spring cleaning and landscape maintenance. The time is now even if you are anxiously awaiting word on status of evacuation. There are things you can do now that can help to save your property, your valuables and your life. The time is now to take action to make your home, family and community safe. 

Use mapper above to zoom to locations where there are Firewise Communities/USA sites and active fires. Data on fires supplied by MODIS interagency system, updated every 24 hours.

George Geissler, the Oklahoma Forestry Service State Forester discusses how the Firewise Communities/USA recognition program helps educate communities on how to lessen damage caused by wildfire. During the interview Mr. Geissler talked about the importance of state wildland firefighters working with local and volunteer fire districts and the part citizens can play in mitigating fire danger.


The interview was hosted by Rob McClendon of Oklahoma Horizons TV and was published on 06/09/2013.

BlogAccording to Bill Gabbert’s recent blog post, California, Oregon and parts of Washington, Idaho, Nevada and Montana are in for a long wildfire season. Mr. Gabbert refers to the latest predictions from The Predictive Services Section at the National Interagency Fire Center, which issued their Wildland Fire Potential Outlook for June through September 2013. Take a look to find out more about your area.

And remember, resources such as Firewise, the Ready, Set, Go! Program andFire Adapted Communities can help you, your neighbors and your community prepare before a fire, during a fire and long after the fire has passed. Contact us for more information; we're here to help.

I got a great email from the folks at last week with the following timely message:

The summer season means more than school vacations and weekends at the pool. Summer brings an increase in the threat of wildfires and the danger that these outbreaks carry. As firefighters worked to contain the Spring wildfire in Southern California, the National Interagency Fire Center recently published its summer fire outlook that forecasts a difficult, above average wildfire season in the West. 

Wildfires spread quickly and often go undetected until it’s too late. Across our nation every year communities are affected by major wildfires. While some homes survive, more homes do not. Make sure your family and community take actions to get prepared.

The wildfire tips at reference Firewise and other excellent resources to help you prepare your home and know what to do before, during and after a fire event. 

WildfiresThe Earth's changing climate (2012 was the warmest year on record in the contigous U.S.) is having a dangerous impact on wildfires; according to the National Research Council, for every degree Celsius (1.8 degrees Fahrenheit) of temperature increase, the size of the area burned in the western U.S. could quadruple.

As more acres burn, more communities may experience wildfire threats. Addressing this concern, NFPA has been working with land-use planners and others with a stake in development to address these risks. NFPA Journal columnist Molly Mowery highlights these endeavors in the latest issue, including a recent NFPA report that lists best practices addressing wildfire risk at the community, neighborhood/subdivision, individual property, and structural levels.

"These and other NFPA resources...provide needed guidance on how to address development in a way that better prepares us for climate change and wildfire risk," says Mowery in the May/June edition of Journal.

Check out these wildfire resources at NFPA's Firewise website. (Click on the "designers/developers" box.)


!|src=|alt=13|style=width: 250px; margin: 0px 0px 5px 5px;|title=13|class=asset asset-image at-xid-6a00d8351b9f3453ef0191032e942f970c!At today’s NFPA Conference &amp; Expo in Chicago, presenters&#0160;Brett Lacey and Christina Randall of the Colorado Spring Fire Department, discussed lessons learned from the 2012 Waldo Canyon fire and its impact on the Colorado Springs Community. The session looked at not only wildfire conditions but the building features and social aspects that contributed to losses and success stories. 


Related:&#0160;The Fire Adapted Communities Coalition (FAC) is a group of partners committed to helping people and communities in the wildland urban interface adapt to living with wildfire and reduce their risk for damage, without compromising firefighter or civilian safety.


The report,&#0160;Lessons from Waldo Canyon,&#0160;from the FAC features interviews and&#0160;tours of the city’s most affected neighborhoods.&#0160; Several major findings are outlined below:

    • Fire spreading from home-to-home was again a major issue, as has been the case in previous wildfires, which caused a relatively large number of home losses.

    • While it is important to harden a building with noncombustible materials to make it more resistant to wildfire, it also is necessary to incorporate appropriate construction details.

    • Community leaders must recognize the value of community-wide collaboration, which is an essential component to home survival and to the creation of fire adapted communities.


According to Pam Leschak, FAC 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.”&#0160;

Watch the companion video “Creating Fire Adapted Communities: A Case Study from Colorado Springs and the Waldo Canyon Fire”.

- by NFPA&#39;s Kim Bianchini June 4th this past week the US Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources explored ways to improve federal wildland fire management. There are several perspectives that were shared. The witness panel was comprised of the Honorable Chief Tidwell of the U.S. Forest Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture; Mr. Chris Topik, Director, Restoring America’s Forests, The Nature Conservancy; Ms. Kim Thorsen, Deputy Assistant Secretary, Law Enforcement, Security and Emergency Management and Wildland Fire, U.S. Department of the Interior; Ms. Lynn Jungwirth, Senior Fellow, The Watershed Research and Training Center, Hayfork, CA; Mr. Doug  Decker, Oregon State Forester, Oregon Department of Forestry and Ms. Diane Vosick, Director of Policy and Partnerships of the Northern Arizona University’s Ecological Restoration Institute.

For more information please visit the U.S. Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources to view the recorded hearing and to download the opening statements of Chairman Wyden and ranking member Murkowski as well as the rest of the witness panel’s statements.

Prescribed fire reduces hazardous fuel buildups and improves habitat for wildlife. Photo courtesy Florida Forest Service website.
Our friends at the Wildfire Lessons Learned Center offer frequent webinars in their "Advances in Fire Practices" area. This week, Steve "Torch" Miller, the bureau chief of land management of the St. John's Water Management District in Florida will present "Burning in their Backyards and Having them Say Thank You."


The webinar takes place on Thursday, June 13 at 1:00 pm Mountain Daylight Time (MDT) and lasts one hour. Register here to participate and learn more about how the St. Johns River Water Management District (SJRWMD) manages approximately 400,000 acres, much of it interspersed with high-end homes and condominiums. The District burns approximately 30,000 acres each year, and has developed strategies to successfully work with WUI neighbors and safely reduce wildfire fuels.

For more topics, see the Wildfire Lessons Learned Center's archived webinars. For more about the value of prescribed burning, see or visit your state's Prescribed Fire Council site.

In most
communities throughout the United States it is necessary to get a permit to
burn slash piles.  It is important to
burn only when it is allowed by your state forester or other permitting agency.  Make sure that you follow the guidelines carefully;
if a wildland fire is started because the rules were not followed you could be
responsible for suppression costs.* 

*!|border=0|src=|alt=Bonfireposter|style=border: 1px #000000;|title=Bonfireposter|class=asset asset-image at-xid-6a017d3c2930f5970c0192aadaa63b970d!
1930s vintage poster from NFPA



Saturday, June 1, 2013, residential burn permits in California have been
suspended for Nevada, Placer, and Yuba Counties. CAL FIRE and the Tahoe
National Forest also announced that fire restrictions will go into effect in
the Tahoe National Forest.  In other
areas of California, Arizona and Nevada burning is suspended as well.  So check with your local permitting agency
before you burn!  Never burn a pile without
a permit.

 When burning slash, a
few basic rules to follow:

  •  Always make sure your burn pile is completely
    burned or put out before dark

  • Have
    fire suppression tools on hand such as garden hoses, shovels and rakes.

  • Make
    sure that the area is completely clear around the pile as well as above!  Make sure there are no overhanging limbs.

  • Do
    not burn garbage with vegetative material.

  • Someone
    should be present and monitor the fire never walk away from your burn pile.

  • Never
    burn on windy or excessively dry days.

  • Rake
    all material together.

  • Keep your piles small and manageable!

[Americorps |] and the[ Fire Safe Council of Nevada County |] did a great video on how to safely burn vegetative debris, take a look!


Living with wildfire

Posted by cathyprudhomme Employee Jun 7, 2013

Community based blog - June 7 2013
Bill Gabbert with Wildfire Today, posted a blog yesterday about an interview earlier this week (June 4), where NPR’s Talk of the Nation host Ari Shapiro interviewed Susie Cagle, a staff writer and illustrator for Grist (Grist is an online magazine that publishes environmental news and commentary), about living in CA wildfire country.  Cagle recently wrote, “Living with fire: Survival and stubbornness in CA wildfire country,” which talks about growing up in Santa Barbara and watching wildfires in the hills near her home. 

She wrote the article while watching this week’s Powerhouse fire move through California’s Los Padres National Forest and shares the experience her family had years ago when their family home was lost during a 1977 wildfire; and their encounters since that time with multiple wildfires.  She believes there’s no longer a single fire season in the area she grew up in – it’s now year round with a high fire season in the mix.  Some residents in the area next to the rebuilt home where her dad and brother still live, find reassurance in an active local fire department that promotes community-based preventative measures and regularly talks to homeowners about what they should do to reduce the risk.

During the interview Shapiro takes calls from listeners sharing their stories about living in wildfire prone areas.  One of those callers was Dave from Coal Creek Canyon between Golden and Boulder, CO, who shares his communities Saws and Slaws concept of wildfire mitigation, which Gabbert calls a model that would work in other communities.  Read more about the Saws and Slaws community based concept in our March 13 blog. 

Does your community use a unique and innovative community based concept to create interest and involvement in wildfire mitigation?  If so, contact a Fire Break blogger.  We’re interested in sharing your successes.

MT Collage - June 2013 Snippet version
Photo top left - Governor Steve Bullock, bottom left - Governor Bullock with Charles Gray, lower right - participants in front of the Capitol.

Montana Governor Steve Bullock joined Fire Safe MT, Keep MT Green and the Governor’s Office of Community Service in kicking off the state’s Wildfire Awareness Week (June 3 -9) at the State Capitol.

This year’s campaign theme: Be Aware. Prepare. Do. encourages homeowners to take simple steps to minimize the impacts of wildland fire.  During Wildfire Awareness Week organizations and agencies throughout the state are hosting events and activities to raise awareness about wildland fire safety, preparedness, mitigation and prevention. Events include the Keep Montana Green student poster contest  - the winning poster’s theme was:  Don’t be too late – Mitigate; and the Fire Safe MT Wildfire Awareness Awards.

The Governor’s Office of Community Service is currently providing up to $2,000 per project to help support wildland fire preparedness training, events, and one-time community based wildfire preparedness projects. 2013 artwork
On at least one occasion, we’ve all been stopped in our tracks by the profoundness of a child’s view of the world by an innocent comment they’ve casually shared, a drawing, or something written as a school assignment. I just had the opportunity to experience one of those moments! 

This year, I have the privilege of receiving a monthly piece of artwork from our friend Roger Archey with the NAPA County, CA Firewise Program.  The artwork was created last year by youth in his community during a children’s art contest with the theme “Wildfire Hurts Everyone.”

This month, the creativity spotlight shined a shade brighter with a piece created by 11-year old Emma Kluz from Vacaville, CA. Her depiction of a wildfire as a roving highway monster stresses the reality of what happens in a fire.  Perhaps I found her image even more profound because the White, Grand, Branch and Powerhouse fires are all active in her home state doing exactly what her artwork intensely portrays!  The caption simply states:  Help Prevent Wildfires! – followed by a simple smiley face emoticon.  

I wish I could afford to buy thousands of billboards throughout the country and plaster them with her artwork!

So it's June, halfway through 2013 and we couldn't be prouder of the tremendous work so many residents across the country have been doing this year to help keep their homes and neighborhoods safer from wildfire. Our 1,000 Safer Places: The Firewise Challenge certainly helps us to continue to raise awareness about this important issue especially as we enter another challenging wildfire season this year. The Challenge is also a great way for neighbors to help neighbors acheive their wildfire safety goals and as of June 1, we're proud to say 903 communities have officially become members of the Firewise family. And this number only continues to grow. Leaderboard

Want to know where your state falls in the Challenge? Check out our updated leaderboard for more information and see the top five states that as of today, are leading the Challenge. Keep track of our progress throughout the year, too, as we update the leaderboard each month. Want to get your community involved the Challenge? Visit our Challenge webpage or contact us for more information! We look forward to hearing from you!

As I left Southern California for Trinity County in Northern California to teach a workshop about Firewise principles, I saw a large plume of smoke.  As reported by the, 3,600 acres have already burned in the Powerhouse Fire as of Saturday north of Los Angeles in the Santa Clarita area and in the Angeles National Forest.  Two hundred and twenty five homes were evacuated and major power transmission lines were threatened.  There has been one structure destroyed and at least one injury reported. Another California fire, the White Fire, burned 2,000 acres and is believed to have been started by a legal campfire in the Los Padres National Forest.  "The White Fire could have been avoided if this person or persons paid closer attention to their cooking fire," said Santa Barbara District Ranger Pancho Smith.  In the Santa Fe, New Mexico area a fire has burned 2,500 acres in the Santa Fe National Forest. A total of 134 homes have been evacuated. 

It struck home to me once again that it is not a matter of if a wildfire will occur, especially here in the West, but when.  The current fire activity underscored the importance of the goals of the Trinity County Firewise workshop: to help homeowners become more informed and therefore better prepared before the smoke appears on the landscape.  The workshop presentations focused on ways that homeowners can make their homes and surrounding landscapes much safer during a wildfire event. Scott Alvord, Weaverville Fire Chief, began the workshop talking about how homeowners can be better prepared for a wildfire event.    Ryan DeSantis of the University of California Cooperative Extension spoke about maintaining defensible space. Weaverville1

I had the privilege of sharing with residents how they could harden their homes and spoke about also looking at their surrounding landscape and Firewise Communities. A community called Burnt Ranch within Trinity County is working towards becoming recognized under the Firewise Communities/USA program.  The recognition program enables communities to assess their risks, prioritize an action plan, host a Firewise educational outreach event and take active steps together to lessen their risks to wildfire.  It is a program that works!  Time and time again, homeowners have been able to return to homes that have survived wildfire events because they proactively fought the fire before the smoke. 

The current fires are an important reminder that there are many simple things that homeowners can do to protect their homes and lives.  We can take steps now to lessen the risks to our homes today! To learn how, visit

Photos by Faith Berry: Top - View of Los Angeles Fire from Gorman; bottom: Trinity County Firewise Workshop at the Weaverville Fire Hall

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