California has a growing legacy of Firewise Community support. As I visited Napa County last week, I was told by residents and a county supervisor how supportive CAL FIRE’s Kate Dargan was in assisting communities with obtaining Firewise recognition. Kate later become the California State Fire Marshal and has since retired, passing the torch to Tonya Hoover, who is now an NFPA board member!
Through a Memorandum of Understanding, CAL FIRE designated theCalifornia Fire Safe Council as the state liaison for the Firewise program. The California Fire Safe Council has assigned Katie Martel as the California Firewise contact. Under these dedicated supporters, California has grown as a Firewise State. It is home to a whopping 65 recognizedFirewise Communities/USA sites, with 16 new recognition areas in the last 18 months. There are many other new developing communities also working towards gaining Firewise recognition. California is working hard to win the Firewise challenge!
Let's welcome since 2011 Petrolia, Honeydew, Orleans and Timber View Improvement Association and since 2012 Gold Mountain, Greater Alta Sierra, East Orange County Canyons, Greater Cement Hill Neighborhood Association, Serene Lakes Property Owners Association, Black Bart Trail, Foothills Community Association and Upper Jacoby Creek! Four new communities who have turned in their paperwork already this year include Lake Alminore Country Club, Golden Oaks, Oak Shores and Rattlesnake Ridge Estates!
We welcome these new communities and have heard of tremendous changes made in very short periods of time, such as the Foothills Communities Association's incredible collaborative effort with their parks department in a green belt fuels reduction project, East County Canyon's fuels reduction project along community roads and Black Bart Trail's successful grant application.
Firewise communities in California have made great strides in improving the outcome of their communities during a wildfire event. Many projects including senior assistance, replacing wood shake shingle roofs, community clean up and chipping days, art contests for children, roadside fuels treatments and fuel breaks and others have all enabled residents to mobilize, collaborating with their local fire jurisdictions to complete successful projects that make a difference as well as host some unique and fun educational outreach events. Recent online blogs and news reports have emphasized how NFPA's Firewise Communities Program activities are helping to make communities more resilient during a wildfire event. No matter where you live you can make your community safer by implementing Firewise principles and becoming a Fire Adapted Community! Congratulations to all the California communities making their homes and neighborhoods safer.