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2013
Yarnell Hill Fire
A KPHO-TV / CBS-5-AZ.COM image shows fires that raged in the hills near Yarnell, Arizona on June 30, 2013 (Kpho-Tv/Cbs-5-Az.Com/AFP)

My commute from my Boston apartment to NFPA headquarters in Quincy, Mass., via public transit gives me ample time to peruse the massive array of magazines that weigh down my work bag. A feature story that recently had me hooked was a detailed look at the Tahoe Hotshots, a fearless group of California wilderness firefighters, and their tactics for battling last year's Mill Fire in Tahema County.

While reading the article, I was reminded of Arizona's Yarnell Hill Fire and its tragic outcome a few months ago. The incident was a devastating loss for the fire service; nineteen firefighters were killed during the June fire, which NFPA deemed the deadliest incident for firefighters since the September 11 terrorist attacks. (NFPA also attended the memorial service.)

The details in the feature, which appeared in the July issue Outside Magazine, help paint a vivid picture of a job not for the faint of heart. There are tales of chainsaw mishaps, heat exhaustion, and quick decisions that place these firefighters in the thick of a raging inferno and into extremely precarious situations. At the end of the day, or whenever the Tahoe crew is able to reflect on their work, it's evident that they are fueled by a sense of pride that trascends the promise of a paycheck.

This newfound insight into the life of a wildland firefighter has only deepened my admiration for the 19 brave men who lost their lives--and the number of other firefighters who have battled similar blazes across the country this year. Such deeds should never go unrecognized.  

http://nfpa.typepad.com/.a/6a00d8351b9f3453ef019aff168efb970b-pihttp://nfpa.typepad.com/.a/6a00d8351b9f3453ef019aff16f39e970c-piTFS_logoPossum Kingdom Lake has seen the effects of wildfires. In 2009, it was the West Side; in 2011 it was the PK Complex; and later that year, the 101 Ranch Fire. Each spread quickly and destroyed not only the countryside, but homes and  buildings. Following the 2011 fires, The Ranch began an effort to reduce the spread and intensity of wildfires and committed to become a recognized Firewise Communities/USA site.  Since 2011, this community of 160 residents has invested $41,268 in wildfire preparedness activities.

Nick Harrison, a Wildland/Urban Interface Staff Forester with the Texas A&M Forest Service sent me this online news story about a shaded fuel break the Ranch community is currently constructing in an effort to make their community more resilient and fire adapted.

drones.jpg

There has been an interesting high-tech development in the battle against the Rim Fire in and around Yosemite National Park in California, which started August 17th.

 

According to the InciWeb website, the fire, located 3 miles east of Groveland, has already burned 199,237 acres [311 square miles]. To date, 4,500 structures are threatened, 112 structures have been destroyed and the fire is only 32% contained. Despite the staggering statistics, firefighters now have a unique tool in their toolbox: a drone like the ones used by the military, to help them battle the blaze.

 

The drone is being used to fly over very remote, unpopulated areas to give firefighters a better look at the fire. What does it do? From its unique overhead vantage point, the drone actually takes photos and sends them to firefighters who then can map the fire’s progress and better observe its behavior. Apart from this tactical advantage, there are several other pluses to using a drone: it needs less fuel, it requires less downtime refueling and the pilot works from the safety of the ground, which reduces the risk of injury or even death. In some cases the drone allows for better field communications when it is used as a communications "repeater" in rugged terrain.

 

Image Source: Shutter Stock

Ambassador Report - Aug 22 2013
Ambassadors representing NFPA’s Fire Adapted Communities (FAC) outreach efforts recently delivered a series of nine informational forums in diverse wildland/urban interface areas that spanned a geographical area from Spokane, WA to Brooksville, FL.  Each forum provided attendees with an overview of the Fire Adapted Communities concept and included an interactive component that generated invaluable insights, feedback and comments from participants; including suggestions on future enhancements to the fireadapted.org website, resources and tools.

This type of outreach activity proved to be an effective tool for introducing and engaging a wide range of stakeholders on the FAC topic, and also provided a forum that produced constructive suggestions on how to improve outreach and education efforts.  Groups also reiterated the impact and importance of multimedia reports, specifically the Waldo Canyon Fire video and the corresponding Lessons Learned document; and how they helped audiences learn about FAC principles along with the FAC coalition member’s roles and resources.

The Fire Adapted Communities approach helps connect people to resources that help them reduce their wildfire risk.  Fire Adapted Communities is supported by a coalition of national wildfire safety organizations.

What do California Wildfires, 9/11, Hurricane Gustav, Chernobyl, Hurricane Rita,and the Fukushima nuclear accident all have in common?  Besides being devastating events, these events all triggered massive evacuations of the local communities.  To assist with planning for mass evacuations the National Fire Protection Association has created a new Technical Committee for Common Mass Evacuation Planning.  The scope of the committee is to establish a common set of criteria for Mass Evacuation plans.  The committee will work to develop a standard that will provide elected officials, emergency management officials, emergency preparedness planners, and emergency responders the essential elements, common terminology, roles, evacuation stages, and repatriation phases for evacuation plans.   

With devastating wildland fires across the country and massive hurricanes hitting our beaches, more and more residents have been asked to evacuate their communities and public officials are facing difficult decisions of when to order an evacuation and when it is ok to shelter in place.  The committee will develop the standard to assist leaders with critical information, and key trigger points that will help them make the decision to evacuate their communities.    

The NFPA Technical Committee will be hosting their first meeting September 4-6, 2013, at NFPA HQ in Quincy MA.  If you are interested in coming to the meeting or learning more about the committee please email me at ohernandez@nfpa.org

Mass evacuation of nearly 500,000 people in about 9 hours. BOATLIFT, An Untold Tale of 9/11 Resilience

 

 

 

!http://nfpa.typepad.com/.a/6a00d8351b9f3453ef019104eecb90970c-400wi|src=http://nfpa.typepad.com/.a/6a00d8351b9f3453ef019104eecb90970c-400wi|alt=One less spark campaign - Aug 23 2013|style=width: 375px;|title=One less spark campaign - Aug 23 2013|class=asset asset-image at-xid-6a00d8351b9f3453ef019104eecb90970c!
In a staff briefing this morning with NFPA’s Regional Firewise Advisors, Michele Steinberg shared with the group a great piece she’d recently received from the Fire Safe Council of Nevada County, CA called, “Are you doing the right thing – the wrong way?” A part of California’s One Less Spark - One Less Wildfire campaign.


Here’s that piece Michele shared with us - pass it on!


<span style="font-family: arial,helvetica,sans-serif; font-size: 11pt;">Getting rid of the hazards around your home is a good idea - but you need to do it properly or you could accidentally start a wildland fire.</span>







Each year fire departments respond to thousands of fires started by people using equipment the wrong way. Whether working to create defensible space around your home, just mowing dry grass, or pulling your dirt bike over to the side of the road, if you live in a wildland area you need to use all equipment responsibly. Lawnmowers, weedeaters, chainsaws, grinders, welders, tractors and trimmers can all spark a wildland fire. Do your part, the right way, to keep your community fire safe.



 

Here’s how to do it the&#0160;RIGHT WAY:  



    • Mow before 10 a.m. If it’s too hot for you, then it’s too hot to mow. REMEMBER, DON’T MOW DURING THE HEAT OF THE DAY OR WHEN THE WIND IS BLOWING!



    1.   
    2. Beware - Lawn mowers are designed to mow lawns, not dry grass, weeds or rocks! A grass-hidden rock is enough to start a fire when struck by a metal blade. Remove rocks from the area before you begin mowing.



    1.   
    2. In California's wildland areas, spark arresters are required on all portable gasoline powered equipment. This includes tractors, harvesters, chainsaws, weed whackers and mowers.



    1.   
    2. Keep the exhaust system, spark arresters and mower in proper working order and free of carbon buildup. Use the recommended grade of fuel and don’t top it off.



    1.   
    2. In California's wildland areas, grinding and welding operations require a permit plus 10 feet of clearance, a 46-inch round point shovel, and a backpack water-type fire extinguisher – all ready to use.



    1.   
    2. Hot exhaust pipes and mufflers can start fires you won’t even see-until it’s too late! Don’t drive your vehicle onto dry grass or brush.



    1.   
    2. Keep a cell phone nearby and call 911 immediately in case of a fire.


(C) 2005 Fire Safe Council





Idaho currently has many active fires burning in the state at this time, as does most of the western United States.  One of the more significant fires is the Elk Complex fire that is located 30 miles ESE of Boise.  This fire complex has been burning since August 24th and was caused by lightning strikes near Granite Mountain in the Danskins Mountain Range.  Fortunately, this 131,000 acre fire is now 95% contained.


View Larger Map 

60 miles east of this fire complex is the Beaver Creek fire that also started under similar circumstances.  This fire is currently 111,000 acres and 90% contained.  Here are some slides and videos from Pat Durland one of NFPA's Home Ignition Zone workshop instructors  who is currently working out of this firecamp.

Beaver Creek Fire
  Image 1:  Town of Hailey, Idaho (photo: Courtesy of Dates Fryberger, photographers: Steve Dondero, Mark Oliver and Matt Leideker)

According to Pat, they are currently using 7 large helicopters to make water drops on the fire.   The more interesting fact is this makes up 1/3 of our national fleet.  If one places this resource allocation into context with all the other major fires burning in the west at this time, one soon comes to the realization that the numbers simply do not add up. 

Wildland fire mitigation around your home is the most reponsible and pragmatic solution to dealing with this natural hazard.  Address your wildland fire risk exposure before the smoke versus hoping that an airplane, helicoptor or firefighting crew will be assigned to your neighborhood in your time of greatest need. 

Wenatchee_CC
The South Central Washington RC&D Council, the National Association of RC&D Councils, and the International Code Council are happy to present a  Washington State Wildland Urban Interface conference to address issues facing the zone where the built environment interfaces or intermixes with the natural environment.  The workshop is titled:  Working Together: A Collaboration for Fire Adapted Communities and will be take place on September 25-26th at the Wenatchee Conference Center, Wenatchee, Washington.  Click here to register

http://nfpa.typepad.com/.a/6a00d8351b9f3453ef0192acb78ee7970d-pi http://nfpa.typepad.com/.a/6a00d8351b9f3453ef0192acb793ee970d-pi !http://nfpa.typepad.com/.a/6a00d8351b9f3453ef01901ef8a37a970b-350wi|src=http://nfpa.typepad.com/.a/6a00d8351b9f3453ef01901ef8a37a970b-350wi|alt=One less spark campaign - Aug 23 2013|style=width: 350px;|title=One less spark campaign - Aug 23 2013|class=asset asset-image at-xid-6a00d8351b9f3453ef01901ef8a37a970b!&#0160;&#0160;&#0160;&#0160;&#0160;&#0160;&#0160;&#0160;&#0160;&#0160;&#0160;&#0160;&#0160;&#0160;&#0160;&#0160;&#0160;&#0160;&#0160;&#0160;&#0160;&#0160;&#0160;&#0160;&#0160;&#0160;&#0160;&#0160;&#0160;&#0160;&#0160;&#0160;&#0160;&#0160;&#0160;&#0160;&#0160;&#0160;&#0160;&#0160;&#0160;&#0160;&#0160;&#0160;&#0160;&#0160;&#0160;&#0160;&#0160;&#0160;&#0160;&#0160;&#0160;&#0160;&#0160;&#0160;&#0160;&#0160;&#0160;&#0160;&#0160;&#0160;&#0160;&#0160;&#0160;&#0160;&#0160;&#0160;&#0160; In a staff briefing this morning with NFPA’s Regional Firewise Advisors, Michele Steinberg shared with the group a great piece she’d recently received from the Fire Safe Council of Nevada County, CA called, “Are you doing the right thing – the wrong way?”&#0160;It’s part of California’s One Less Spark -&#0160;One Less Wildfire campaign.

Here’s that piece Michele referenced - enjoy and pass it on!


Getting rid of the hazards around your home is a good idea - but you need to do it properly or you could accidentally start a wildland fire.









Each year fire departments respond to thousands of fires started by people using equipment the wrong way. Whether working to create defensible space around your home, just mowing dry grass, or pulling your dirt bike over to the side of the road, if you live in a wildland area you need to use all equipment responsibly. Lawnmowers, weedeaters, chainsaws, grinders, welders, tractors and trimmers can all spark a wildland fire. Do your part, the right way to keep your community fire safe.



 

Here’s how to do it the<br />&#0160; RIGHT WAY:&#0160;&#0160;


    • Mow before 10 a.m. If it’s too hot for you, then it’s too hot to mow. REMEMBER, DON’T MOW DURING THE HEAT OF THE DAY OR WHEN THE WIND IS BLOWING!



    1.   
    2. Beware - Lawn mowers are designed to mow lawns, not dry grass, weeds or rocks! A grass-hidden rock is enough to start a fire when struck by a metal blade. Remove rocks from the area before you begin mowing.



    1.   
    2. In California's wildland areas, spark arresters are required on all portable gasoline powered equipment. This includes tractors, harvesters, chainsaws, weed whackers and mowers.



    1.   
    2. Keep the exhaust system, spark arresters and mower in proper working order and free of carbon buildup. Use the recommended grade of fuel and don’t top it off.



    1.   
    2. In California's wildland areas, grinding and welding operations require a permit plus 10 feet of clearance, a 46-inch round point shovel, and a backpack water-type fire extinguisher – all ready to use.



    1.   
    2. Hot exhaust pipes and mufflers can start fires you won’t even see-until it’s too late! Don’t drive your vehicle onto dry grass or brush.



    1.   
    2. Keep a cell phone nearby and immediately call 9-1-1 in case of a fire.


(C)
  2005 Fire Safe Council








Infographic 619
Fire is a natural part of our environment. As we choose to live in areas where wildfires occur, we must adapt the way we design, build and live within these areas to prepare our communities for wildfire. A fire adapted community understands its risks and takes actions that minimize harm to residents, homes, businesses, parks, and other community assets. This Infographic is an excellent visual tool to learn what it takes to make your community fire adapted. Know your role, know your region, protect what matters, and find out more with this Fire Adapted Communities® Infographic.

Download the Infographic.

Request a printed version of the Infographic (10 per order).

As reported in the news this week, USDA Forest Service Chief Thomas Tidwell sent a letter to regional foresters and other top officials telling them to come up with significant budget cuts by Friday, August 23, 2013.  The practice of the Forest Service diverting funds from other internal sources is becoming a familiar scenario – in fact, it has occurred six times since 2002. In this sense, this year’s budget cuts should come as no surprise.

Yet the news is still sobering, as is what Chief Tidwell wrote: “I recognize that this direction will have significant effects on the public whom we serve and on our many valuable partners, as well as agency operations, target accomplishments and performance.  I regret that we have to take this action and fully understand that it only increases costs and reduces efficiency."

The wildfire hazard mitigation community, however, is used to wildfire suppression activities receiving the bulk of federal funds.  So for years our profession has been creative in our ongoing efforts to reduce wildfire threat with limited funds - through means of mitigation and prevention tools, programs, and plans. 

Here’s what I have to offer today for five reasons why we can still find optimism in the future:

1)   The Cohesive Strategy. Stakeholders have just issued the third and final national report of the three-phased National Cohesive Wildland Fire Management Strategy. This collaborative effort is finally culminating into a plethora of well-crafted and science-based recommendations to address the current wildfire threat facing the country.  These recommendations cover a number of key issues, including fuels management, prescribed fire, home and community protection, human ignitions, and initial and extended response to wildfire.  Stay tuned as we will soon begin to see this information turned into action.

2)   Fire Adapted Communities Coalition.  In the past year, momentum to support wildfire mitigation and outreach efforts took a huge step forward through the efforts of the Fire Adapted Communities Coalition.  Thanks to coordinated efforts, national organizations have been working together to create ground-breaking new resources for the public on adapting their communities to fire – Lessons Learned from the Waldo Canyon Fire is a great example.  Other coalition member programs continue to grow. There are more than 950 recognized Firewise Communities/USA and 750 Ready, Set, Go! partners.  These complimentary efforts provide consistent messages and help everyone’s work get easier.

3)   Local Initiatives and Funding. In the past few weeks, my inbox delivered some exciting news, including a million dollar state grant awarded to Woodland Park, Colorado – one of the ten pilot communities in the new Fire Adapted Communities Learning Network (an initiative by the USDA Forest Service and The Nature Conservancy).  The grant will implement fire adapted community activities.  Other announcements included upcoming conferences in Texas and Washington to share wildfire successes, highlight collaboration and promote state and local fire adapted community efforts among stakeholders.

4)   Increased Media Awareness.  I’ll admit this is purely anecdotal, but personal experience and discussions with colleagues all point to the same conclusion: the media is finally asking the right questions about wildfire.  More than just how many homes were damaged, reporters want to know what the public or policymakers can do to reduce wildfire threat in their communities – what tools are out there? What is wildfire mitigation and where can I find more success stories?  What other information can we provide to reduce risk in the future?  This is GREAT news!

5)   Renewed Interest in Regulations.   Following the last several years of devastating fires, some municipalities are rethinking how their development and building codes can play a larger role in reducing wildfire impacts by requiring fire-resistant materials, landscaping, and other site design considerations.  Not only that, but in some cases such as the recent Black Forest Fire that saw a devastating loss of nearly 500 homes, some members of the public are asking for more stringent regulations!  Combined with other mitigation actions, regulations can go a long way in preparing homes and communities for wildfire hazard and reducing future losses.  

 

The recent news about USDA Forest Service budget cuts made national headlines, and that’s a good thing.  It shows that the issue of wildfire and what we are (or aren’t) doing about it is of national concern.  This is no longer a sideline issue that a handful of states have to deal with; rather it has become a must-address situation.  We are all doing important work, and we know that even with setbacks the results of our mitigation efforts will bear fruit. It’s important to stay positive and creative, and continue getting the word out about why our work is effective and must remain a priority. 

A recent Australian filmography demostrates and discusses a very scary fire behavior phenomenon  known as the fire tornado.  Wildland firefighters talk about 'watch out' situations when firewhirls are present on the fireline, but the phenomenon described in this video clip is unprecedented in its fire behavior, magnitude and the destruction it caused on January 8, 2003 in Canberra - it is more akin to a literal 'fire tornado'.

Cloud
Image 1: New research released in 2013 showed that the fire tornado formed from a pyrocumulonimbus cloud.  This type of cloud typically forms above a source of heat like a wildfire and is the precursor to some very unpredictable fire behavior.

In Grants Pass, in southwest Oregon, residents are learning about plants. Plants that can help resist wildfire, that is.

Members of the Hillcrest Fire Station recently completed a FireWise Garden, which provides landscaping tips and showcases the many different kinds of native plants that can help resist wildfire and keep your property looking beautiful.

WKTVL CBS Channel 10 highlighted the story and did a great video segment on the Garden that explains how residents can go about creating one of their own. Watch the video by clicking here. 

Firewise Garden
I bet you didn't know how easy it is to create your own Firewise garden. Don't know where to start? Our Firewise Landscaping and Plants webpage provides resources and plant lists from states around the country. Take a look at lists from your area and see what works for you and your budget, and even if you don't have the world's greenest thumb, your local gardening and/or landscaping expert can help you map out a plan that's easy and affordable. Soon you'll have a beautiful, colorful landscape that also reduces your risk for wildfire damage.

When you're finished, send us a photo on our Firewise Facebook page! We'd love to share it with others to encourage and inspire them to create! 

To learn more about wildfire safety, and find additional tips and resources, go to Firewise.org and Fireadapted.org.

 http://nfpa.typepad.com/.a/6a00d8351b9f3453ef0192aca3ee6c970d-pi
Video 5 - P8140471
Photo Credit: Randy Johnson (Larkspur Fire Protection District)

Last week I had an opportunity to accompany southern Colorado Fire Marshals Vernon Champlin (Falcon Fire Protection District), Margo Humes (Wescott Fire Protection District) and Randy Johnson (Larkspur Fire Protection District), as they interviewed homeowners and firefighters impacted by the June 2013 Black Forest Fire that destroyed 486 homes. These fire marshals, along with Black Forest Fire Rescue and with assistance from the Pikes Peak Wildfire Prevention Partners, are developing a collaboratively produced video targeted specifically to homeowners in their jurisdictions.  With an objective of visually demonstrating the need for increased wildfire mitigation efforts and evacuation planning; the video features testimonials from a Black Forest resident that lost their home and another that was able to return home after the fire.  They’re also including local firefighters who are sharing their experiences during the response effort.  This group of fire marshals is working hard to educate and motivate residents to reduce their continued wildfire risk and improve their home/property’s chances of survivability.

While driving from interview-to-interview, Fire Marshal Champlin shared with me the group’s vision and their commitment in working with residents to make the area a safer place to live.  During recent meetings, homeowners have had to be reminded that only 20% of the area burned and there’s still a lot of potential for more fires and much more work needs to be accomplished.

Champlin said the group working on the video feels, “The video is an important educational tool and by using our community residents and firefighters to help deliver the messages, we’ll be better able to connect with our audience.  We’re focusing on the area’s fuel types, commonly used home construction materials and recognizable landmarks; we want it to personally resonate.  It’s so important to drive home the point that our residents have the power to reduce their wildfire risk through their personal actions and behaviors.  By making it a local tool, with a local emphasis, we’re increasing its ability to connect with the people we’re working with on a day-to-day basis.  It’s our hope that the video will significantly increase the number of people implementing mitigation work within their home ignition zone.”

The group hopes to secure funding through private sector or grant opportunities that would provide a copy of the video to residents during stakeholder’s collaborative outreach and educational endeavors.  

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

  • Find information about how to host (hazard) preparedness parties in your neighborhood
  • Learn how and where to access wildfire activity information through traditional and social media outlets
  • Discover what the U.S. Joint Fire Science Program is doing to increase collaboration between the scientific research community and national resource and wildland fire professionals
  • Learn how to create and share emergency plans with teens and young children
  • Find a link to Smokey Bear’s latest media campaign video

… 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.

911None of us ever wants to have to make a 911 call.  In an emergency -- especially a wildfire emergency -- knowing how to make a good call can improve response time, make it safer for emergency responders, and even help create a much better outcome! 

It is hard to be calm when you call, so take a deep breath and if you have time, write things down such as cross streets, mile markers, license plate numbers, etc., so that you can give accurate information.  Make sure that you are a safe distance from a dangerous situation, but stay close to an injured person if it is safe for you to do so.  If you are in a building that is on fire, GET OUT and make sure others are out.  Now dial 9-1-1 in the United States.  If it does not connect immediately, do not hang up. Stay on the line; the operator will ask you what the emergency is.  Describe the emergency: Is it a fire, accident, injury?

Dispatcher

When calling from a cell phone remember that a cell phone does not automatically give location when you call so make sure that you know your own location and the location of the incident, especially if it is a wildfire event.  Make sure that you can accurately give the location of both the fire and your location.

According to Jeri Hayes, the Emergency Communication Center Manager for the US Forest Service at the Monte Vista CAL Fire Station, some of the key information that emergency dispatchers need when you call is:

  • Name (reporting party in case we get disconnected or need better directions to the location)
  • Phone number of the reporting party (in case they need more information, they can call you back)
  • Location of where the wildfire is
  • What color the smoke is
  • Does the fire look like it is spreading?
  • Best access into the wildfire
  • Did you see anyone leaving the scene? (If so, describe them: color of clothes, height, hair color, tattoos, scars etc.)

 

Signage
Signage to look for when reporting location to 911 dispatcher
Stay on the line with the dispatcher until she tells you to hang up or unless you are not in a safe situation.  She will continue to give you directions and ask questions for the first responders. Try not to interrupt the dispatcher when she is talking to you.  A dispatcher may have a series of questions to ask you to help better understand the situation. Answer them all, even if they do not seem relevant to you. 

If you are traveling to another country, their emergency numbers will be different than they are in the United States.  For example, in Great Britain it is 999 and in Australia it is 000. Check to make sure that you know before you need to make a call.  Also remember never to call 911 unless it is an emergency, and always be polite on the line with the dispatcher even though you are under duress. Using profanity or harassing the dispatcher may be punishable by jail time.  Be kind to the people who are there to help us!

Make sure that you have prepared your home and family before an emergency wildfire event.  For some of the latest news and research about wildfire preparedness be sure to visit theFirebreak newsletter  and NFPA's wildland fire resources page

Peter Morrison of the Pacific Biodiversity Institute makes a strong case for the proactive Fire Adapted Communities approach versus the reactive firefighting operations approach to dealing with wildfire risk exposure.  To learn more visit the Methow Valley News online website for more details.

One of the interesting facts identified by Peter is according to National Interagency Fire Center (NIFC) only 12% of fires occur on our National Forests.  This fact begs the question just how do we spend our tax money and does it get proportionately allocated to the area with the greatest risk exposure?

AFD
On September 11, the Austin Fire Department’s (AFD) Wildfire Division—in coordination with the Joint Wildfire Taskforce steering committee—will host a free Fire Adapted Communities (FAC) Symposium at the State Capitol from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. We would like to cordially invite you to attend the Symposium as our honored guest. Local state and national experts such as Texas A&M Forest Service Fire Chief Mark Stanford, Fire Adapted Communities Coordinator Molly Mowry, and International Code Consultants' Jeff Shapiro and I will be presenting.

To learn more about this event that includes a free lunch please register at this site.

The New Jersey Pine Barrens, also known as the Pinelands, is a heavily forested area of pitch pines located in southern New Jersey, covering 1.1 million acres. It is estimated that 46% of homes in New Jersey are located in the Wildland Urban Interface.  It is also one of the main areas in the United States having a very high wildland fire risk potential. RMRS Wildland Fire Potential_2012_New Jersey
Image 1: New Jersey Wildland Fire Risk Potential Map. Click here to learn more about how this wildland fire potential rating was developed. 

Prescribed fire has long been a useful tool of the New Jersey Forest Fire Service (NJFFS) in managing land to prevent and minimize loss from wildfire. Over 15,000 acres are burned annually. The NJFFS also works with communities to implement Firewise practices. Most Firewise projects initiated by at risk communities are focused on creating wide fuel breaks of at least 100 feet around the perimeter of these communities, often bordering along existing roadways.

http://nfpa.typepad.com/.a/6a00d8351b9f3453ef01901ecdfe95970b-piPine Barrens
Currently there are eleven recognized Firewise Communities and New Jersey ranks in the top five in the Firewise Challenge. It is expected that several other communities, including Country Walk, Victoria and Holly Lake, will be recognized by the end of the year.

On June 24th a Barnegat Township Community meeting was held, organized by Greg McLaughlin, NJFFS Division Fire Warden and John Cowie, Barnegat Fire Co., Trustee, Ready, Set, Go! Chairperson and NJFFS District Fire Warden. Barnegat Volunteer Fire Company was selected as an initial pilot fire company for the Ready, Set, Go! Program in 2010-11.

While this meeting primarily focused on Barnegat Township, residents from other Firewise Communities outside the township and from potential Firewise communities also attended, including Pine Ridge Estates and Little Egg Harbor Township.  Efforts are underway to develop a Community Wildfire Protection Plan (CWPP) for Little Egg Harbor Township.  As part of the CWPP all potential Firewise Communities have been identified within the township and introduction of the Ready, Set, Go! Program to the local fire companies is being explored.

Lucian Deaton, International Association of Fire Chiefs,  Ready, Set, Go! (RSG) Program Manager, opened the meeting, followed by Maureen Brooks, US Forest Service (USFS) Community Fire Planner outlined the Firewise Communities program and RSG under the umbrella of Fire Adapted Communities. Her presentation led to an open discussion of the roles and responsibilities of each participant - New Jersey Forest Fire Service, USFS, RSG, Barnegat Fire Company, Barnegat Township, Office of Emergency Management and the Barnegat Police.

Those attending the meeting overwhelmingly agreed that continued participation in Firewise and Ready, Set, Go! was essential, especially during seasons when wildfires are down, to allow for pre-planning and preparedness. New residents were enthusiastic about their communities taking steps to becoming recognized. Several residents approached their local Fire Warden to set up onsite meetings.

Most importantly, everyone agreed that the meeting could provide a model for presentation of Fire Adapted Communities concepts to other municipalities throughout New Jersey.

You can be an ambassador for Firewise Communities where you live!  Do you live in a community that is not Firewise yet?  Or perhaps you live next door to a community that is not yet aware of Firewise principles.  Using the Firewise toolkit and other materials available free on line you can become an ambassador for effective change.  The Firewise Communities program works.  There have been many documented saves of homes and neighborhoods where residents embraced and implemented Firewise principles. Contact your state liaison and regional advisor for additional help.

 

Homes_Faith
A picture of a home from New Mexico on the left and Oklahoma on the right that were left intact after a wildfire event because they had made Firewise changes to their homes and properties.

If you are wondering how to start, there are many different approaches to reach out to neighbors and communities.

  • You can simply invite neighbors over for a cup of tea or coffee and share what is working for you and your community.
  • Bringhandouts to your local library, community center or other public building with permission if you have a hard time talking one on one. You can also post flyers inviting neighbors to your meeting.
  • Have a booth at a local event such as a rodeo, HOA meeting, block party or other community event.
  • Staff a table or booth at a local Fire Station open house with their permission or other safety fair such as a neighborhood watch, disaster preparedness or other event.
  • Use a Firewise DVD to share with residents as a community outreach event.
  • Host a course on how to assess wildfire hazards in the Home Ignition Zone.

 

People_FaithBlog8.14.13
On the left is a display staffed by the East County Magazine in Descanso, California;  on the right is a class being taught about Firewise principles in the Elfin Forest, California.

By helping your neighbor or neighboring community become safer you are actually helping yourself be safer in the event of a wildfire as well.  You can become an integral part of meeting the Firewise Challenge of supporting the development and maintenance of 1,000 Firewise Communities!  For more information about this national campaign go to www.firewise.org.

Authored by: Jennifer Hinderman, FAC Amabassador


Knowing and understanding your role in a community that deals with
wildland fire issues is one of the most important components of building a
wildfire resilient community.  Each stakeholder
has a valid and significant role to play; whether it’s a firefighter, homeowner,
land manager, government official, or others, they are all an important part of
the complete picture. 


No matter whether you own 1 acre or 500 acres, as a private forest
landowner you have a considerable role to play in the process of community
resiliency to wildfire.  Today 57% of our
forestlands in the U.S. are privately owned.*   This
means that you have the potential to make a significant impact on wildland fire
prevention and protection on both small and large scales.


The role of private forest landowners is challenging and loaded with
responsibility.   Management decisions
can have significant lasting effects; positive or negative depending on the
decisions that are made.   When it comes
to wildland fire, the healthier the forest, the less likely it is to burn
catastrophically.  Many forest ecosystems
have evolved with fire as a contributor to biodiversity and habitat vigor.  Having a fire burn through your forest is not
automatically a negative thing.  It
becomes negative when it becomes catastrophic, and it becomes catastrophic when
there are lives and property affected. 


How do you reduce the potential for catastrophic wildfire in your
forestlands?


(These are broad recommendations. 
Specific treatments should be developed for each site based on the
particular attributes).


    • Manage for the survival of healthy trees and
      remove the unhealthy ones.

        1. Trees that are in an overcrowded stand will not
          get enough light and water and are stressed. 
          Stressed trees are more susceptible to insect infestations and
          disease. 



    • Thin out stressed and unhealthy trees.

    • Remove invasive species that out-compete native vegetation.

    • Remove
      ladder fuels – create a vertical separation between taller trees and lower
      growing vegetation so that a ground fire cannot climb into the canopy.

        1. Prune trees up leaving at least 2/3 of the live
          crown

        2. Thin out dense underbrush

        3. Remove slash



    • Consider whether prescribed burning is an
      appropriate option.

        1. Under the right circumstances and in the
          appropriate locations prescribed burning can reduce the costs of vegetation
          control, improve wildlife habitat, and improve native plant communities.




 


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Photo Credit: Private Forest Landowners Association


 


What are the benefits of taking on such responsibility?  The benefits of espousing this role are both
personal and extensive:



    1. Protection of your family and property


        1. The healthier the forest, the less likely it is
          to carry fire that will cause destruction



    2. Protection of your neighbors

    3. Protection of our firefighter heroes

    4. Protection of your investment

    5. Protection and improvement of the watershed

        1. Soil health

        2. Water quality

        3. Wildlife habitat

        4. Fish habitat

        5. Biodiversity of species

        6. Air quality (carbon sequestration)




You have the power to help protect people and property while at the
same time improving the health of our watersheds.  As a private forest landowner you play an
integral role in the wildfire resilience of the community and ecosystem.  Acting on this responsibility is crucial as climate
change is causing conditions that result in more frequent and intense wildland
fires.  Know your role; love your forest;
protect your community.

*www.safnet.org/lp/state.cfm

 


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DoD photo by Master Sgt. Christopher DeWitt, U.S. Air Force



Warning: the Earth's changing climate will likely have a severe impact on future wildfire events in the U.S.

That&#39;s the takeaway from a recent NASA article, which backs up this statement with computer modeling and satellite imagery that paint a dire portrait of America&#39;s future fire landscape. Wildfires have already burned more than 2.5 million acres in the U.S. this year, and drier climates expected across the nation in coming decades will likely exacerbate the damage associated with these events.

What can we expect as the Earth heats up? According to the article, the country is in store for longer fire seasons, larger areas at risk of wildfire, and more frequent wildfire events.

"A 100,000-acre wildfire used to be unusual, you would see one every few
years," Carl Albury, a contractor with the Forest Service, tells NASA. "Those type of fires
are becoming a yearly occurrence."


All the more reason, says NFPA, to start preparing your homes and communities for today's wildfire threats before they worsen. Check out the[ Firewise | http://www.firewise.org] website for tips on safeguarding homes and property, and watch the NASA video highlighting the new research:


Arkansasbanner
The death of 19 firefighters in Arizona was felt all across the firefighting community. As the Arkansas Forestry Commission and Arkansas Firewise mourned the loss of their brothers, they worked to make sure that the tragedy was not repeated.

“It prompted us to review our safety training," said Kevin Kilcrease, Arkansas Firewise Coordinator, “ This training is done yearly in all of our eight fire districts. In light of the tragedy, we upped the day we did training and review.”

This training is provided to all firefighters in the Arkansas Forestry Commission. It includes a review of fire safety standards, situations and a review of how and when to use a fire shelter and practical application of practice getting in a fire shelter.

In addition, Arkansas Firewise personnel included theFirewise safety message in both regular mail and email messages. Arkansas Firewise sends mailings to its active and past Firewise communities and to interested individuals several times a year. Arkansasimage

“We prompted our fire departments to stress safety and a lean, clean, and green space around homes,” Kilcrease said.  “Fire safety is always important and having a Firewise home will make the firefighter’s job safer,” he added.

Arkansas Firewise also discussed safety techniques with local media. When media called to ask about how Arkansas Forestry Commission was handling the tragedy, the state's Firewise team used this opportunity to discuss the need for fire safety both for fire departments and for individual homeowners.

These principles are important all the time, but such a tragedy brings home the need for each individual to take responsibility to make firefighter’s job safer. Firewise is an excellent tool for firefighter safety. Mowing, watering, and trimming are ways we can all contribute to that safety.

GFC_masticator_imageThe Georgia Forestry Commission (GFC) is pleased to offer a new service: mechanical fuel treatment.

GFC’s mechanical fuel treatment offers safe and effective control of understory vegetation that can make wildfire mitigation and control a struggle. These powerful tools churn through places unsuited for traditional methods such as prescribed burning and chemical treatment. Mechanical fuel treatment is ideal for areas in the wildland-urban interface, land near gas lines, power lines, rights of way and other
smoke-sensitive areas.

Mechanical fuel treatment machines are specifically equipped to safely and effectively manage the thick understory that grows in Georgia’s forests:

• 88” wide front mount/triple rotary deck, rear discharge mechanical underbrush clearing machine;

• Mulches all underbrush and trees up to four inches in diameter efficiently and effectively - much faster than tractor drawn or track machines;

• Clears up to two acres per hour.

To learn more about GFC’s masticator mechanical fuel treatment service, contact your local GFC office or call 1-800-GA-TREES.

Image1

AP Photo/The Colorado Springs Gazette, Michael Ciaglo

During the devastating June 2012 Waldo Canyon Fire, the City of Manitou Springs, CO was spared any home loss or damage from the fire that destroyed 347 homes in neighboring Colorado Springs.  Now, the approximately 5,000 residents of the popular tourist destination are feeling the impacts of a fire ravaged landscape just north of their community.  Three recent flash floods (the latest this past weekend) have plummeted down the burn scar located above the area sending boulders, logs and mud into the small city and on to heavily traveled U.S. 24, the primary east-west corridor into the mountains west of Colorado Springs.

The flash flooding has claimed one life and caused several injuries; while also creating a path of muddy destruction in the picturesque town.  More than twenty vehicles traveling busy U.S. 24 have been carried down the steep pass like small boats in a fast flowing river; a house was swept from its foundation, and six more declared unsafe to enter, eleven deemed safe for only limited entry and another twenty-three suffered cosmetic damage.

Authorities have worked vigilantly for many months educating residents of the impending flash flood dangers. Agencies are collaboratively working to implement additional measures to make future flooding less severe and to help catch debris and prevent it from moving into the city.  The Waldo Canyon Fire consumed the vegetation needed to hold down the mud – and officials anticipate the area could experience flash floods for up to ten years.

Consider including educational information on potential post-fire damage and recovery issues in your Firewise and Fire Adapted Communities presentations to illustrate the full range of long-reaching impacts from wildfires and the importance of wildfire mitigation.

To view a slide show of flash flood photos visit the Denver Post or the Colorado Springs Gazette.

ryan.quinn

Happy Birthday Smokey!

Posted by ryan.quinn Employee Aug 9, 2013

As a past recipient of the Bronze Smokey Award for wildfire prevention activities and one of Smokey’s friends I thought it was only appropriate to send Smokey Bear a birthday card.  Today, Friday August 9th our nation is recognizing Smokey Bear’s 69th birthday.

There are many facts about Smokey as well as myths which create excellent trivia between those of us who have grown up with an appreciation of Smokey Bear and the fire prevention message of preventing human-caused wildland fires.  There is no other fire prevention symbol with greater reach and recognition than the image of Smokey Bear

Fact or myth?

What I have learned is that in the early 1900’s Americans were being warned about damaging catastrophic forest fires where 9 out of 10 fires were human-caused.  Fire Prevention efforts by the USDA Forest Service during World War II included a host of other caricatures and messages.  The main threat at this time was the potential disruption that forest fires started by the enemy on the west coast could impact strategically important timber supplies needed for the war effort.  By 1944 the Wartime Advertising Council decided to use an animal to carry the fire prevention message.  On August 9, 1944 a bear was chosen.  The bear was to be named “Smokey” after Assistant Chief Smokey Joe Martin.  The first slogan “Care will prevent 9 out of 10 forest fires”.   Later, the coined phrase “Remember only you can prevent forest fires” started in 1947.  Albert Staehle and Rudy Wendlin were the early artist of Smokey.

Combo_Defense
But it was not until May 9, 1950 that the “live” Smokey Bear came to exist.  A five pound black bear cub was found after a forest fire in the Capitan Mountains, New Mexico. This bear was named “Smokey” after the poster bear. This living bear was sent to the National Zoo in Washington D.C. to become the new living symbol for wildfire prevention.

Smokey Combo

In 1952 President Eisenhower signed into law the Smokey Bear Act, public law 359.  In 1953 the Junior Ranger Program began and I am proud to say that I was one of six million kids enrolled to help Smokey prevent forest fires.  The President of the United States has one thing in common with Smokey; they both have their own zip code.  By 1964, the Smokey fan mail piled up so high that he was given his own zip, 20252.  In 1971 another orphaned black bear went to Washington D.C. to become “Little Smokey”.

With many tears, the living Smokey Bear passed away and was returned to his hometown of Capitan, New Mexico and is buried at the Smokey Bear Historical Park.  Little Smokey ended the living symbol of Smokey with his death on August 11, 1990.

The Smokey and Cooperative Forest Fire Prevention Program which was organized by the USDA Forest Service back in 1944 is the longest running public service advertising campaign in the history of the Ad Council.  I remember the summer of 1994 as our local fire prevention cooperative celebrated Smokey’s 50th birthday as millions of others prevention personnel did across the United States.

Gary Combo

The best birthday gift you could give Smokey this year is to do your part and be very careful with fire as one tree can make a million matches, but one match can burn a million trees.  From the post war Baby Boomer’s generation to many generations to follow, we will always remember the coined phrase, “Only
You Can Prevent Forest Fires”.  For more nostalgia and information about Smokey Bear visit this website.

michelesteinberg

Why do we prepare?

Posted by michelesteinberg Employee Aug 8, 2013


!http://nfpa.typepad.com/.a/6a00d8351b9f3453ef01901eb05947970b-800wi|border=0|src=http://nfpa.typepad.com/.a/6a00d8351b9f3453ef01901eb05947970b-800wi|alt=SilverFire|title=SilverFire|class=asset asset-image at-xid-6a00d8351b9f3453ef01901eb05947970b image-full!

The Silver Fire burns along Valley Hi Drive in Twin Pines, Calif., on Wednesday, Aug. 7, 2013.(Photo: Richard Lui, The Palm Springs, Calif., Desert Sun)




In November, I&#39;ll be part of a panel at the NFPA Backyards & Beyond Wildfire Safety Education conference in Salt Lake City. The panel discussion topic is &quot;Why Do We Prepare?&quot; and takes an angle of discussing property insurance and homeowner motivation.&#0160;


 

Watchingthe news today coming out of Riverside, California, I feel what I can only describe as battle fatigue when talking - AGAIN - &#0160;about fire, preparedness, evacuation and home safety. But sincerepetition is key to learning, I&#39;ll take this opportunity to repeat our messages. So why do we prepare for wildfire? Well, some reasons are so that we don&#39;t have to show up on the news in tears, we don&#39;t have to lose everything we own, and we don&#39;t have to suffer injury or die because we weren&#39;t prepared for an inevitable major fire event.


 

There is a lot of arguing about what motivates people to prepare, and increasingly there is more research to point to education and engagement as helpful tools. I&#39;ve been most impressed by author Linda Masterson, who will join me on the panel in November, and who has explored all of this in her own experience of losing a home to wildfire and writing a bookabout it. She&#39;s speaking this monthin her home state of Colorado and offering advice and tips to others living with the reality of wildfire risks.&#0160;


 

In an interview with the +Summit Daily+ newspaper, she said about her experience,&#0160;“It’s always the things you don’t do that come back to haunt you. If we were starting over, there are so many more things we would have done. But there is no rewind button. You don’t get any do-overs. Whatever you do ahead of time is all you can do because everything is else is gone.”


 

I can only hope that others watching the news today will take Linda&#39;s message to heart and take action today to prepare their homes and families to be safer.</p>

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!http://nfpa.typepad.com/.a/6a00d8351b9f3453ef0192ac6f853e970d-320wi|src=http://nfpa.typepad.com/.a/6a00d8351b9f3453ef0192ac6f853e970d-320wi|alt=OSU_COLLABORATIVE_PLANNING|style=margin: 0px 0px 5px 5px;|title=OSU_COLLABORATIVE_PLANNING|class=asset asset-image at-xid-6a00d8351b9f3453ef0192ac6f853e970d!A couple of years ago researchers from Oregon State University published a guide for building partnerships amongst diverse interest groups.&#0160;


The main impetus for the development of this guiding document was the Wildland-Urban Interface (WUI).  Government directives like the Healthy Forest restoration Act, the National Fire Plan and the Cohesive Wildland Fire Management Strategy combined with changing conditions on the ground were prompting federal, state and local government and the public to work together.


 

The Fire Adapted Communities outreach initiative that was launched in June 2012 was implemented to promote this idea of collaborative planning and action.&#0160; This guiding document qualifies the Fire Adapted Communities objective by highlighting the elements of success in the collaborative planning and action process:


  • Getting Organized: Coordinate the effort

  • Consider the Setting: Recognize local concerns and assets

  • The Core Concept: Create a Collaborative environment

  • Build a Foundation: Relationships are built on communication and trust

  • Skilled Communications: The essential ingredient

  • Making a commitment: Plan for the long-term

 

Photo Credit:  Jonathan Pobre/AP - Powerhouse Fire, Santa Clarita, CA May 30, 2013

Do an Internet search using the two words “seven steps” and you’ll get a whole menagerie of things ranging from: seven steps to getting out of debt - to seven steps of successful writing; along with more than 1.5 million additional choices.  One of those options in the sea of many is a recent article from the Christian Science Monitor called Wildfire season: 7 ways you can help save lives and property.  I encourage you to add this to your must read list; it’s a well-written, user-friendly piece that provides a comprehensive, yet simplistic look at the actions that can reduce community-wide wildfire risk.

I feel somewhat remiss that the link to this article was sent to me more than two months ago from a colleague, and it only rose to the top of my to-read list when I received it again today from a different colleague, who’d probably also let it sit too long in their inbox. 

It has applicable information for every adult residing in one of the estimated 44 million homes with a wildfire risk throughout the U.S.; and also for related stakeholders.  A lot of the Information in the article came from the January 2013 USDA Forest Service report Wildfire, Wildlands and People: Understanding and Preparing for Wildfire.    

Once you've read the article add some excerpts to your newsletter or website and use the Fire Adapted Communities website as your comprehensive wildfire resource for information and materials.

NVFCIn a joint effort with the U.S. Forest Service, the National Volunteeer Fire Council (NVFC) recently launched a new Wildland Fire Assessment Program.  The primary goal of this initiaitive to provide training on how to properly conduct assessments for homes located in the Wildland-Urban Interface.

The NVFC is a Fire Adapted Communities (FAC) coalition member. Check out this comprehensive list of wildland fire assessment resources.

http://nfpa.typepad.com/.a/6a00d8351b9f3453ef019104a0788a970c-piLou HoltzThings are beginning to heat up in the second half of this year’s inaugural Firewise Challenge. Check out the Firewise Challenge leaderboard to learn if your state is currently in contention.

In the words of the famous football coach – Lou Holtz “How you respond to the challenge in the second half will determine what you become after the game…”

FireScience
A newly released report by the Joint Fire Sciences Program has some exciting findings for Firewise advocates and those working with communities on wildfire mitigation. 

Researchers James Absher of the US Forest Service and Jerry Vaske and Katie Lyon with Colorado State University surveyed a sampling of households in 12 Colorado counties to find out more about residents' actions to become Firewise and the obstacles that they might face in doing so. They specifically identified factors that could predict whether a person who had not yet acted to make a home safer from wildfire would be likely to do so.

In spite of obstacles including a great diversity among people and communities requiring tailored messages, and resistance to some changes such as Firewise building retrofits, there were still three strong predictors of residents' likelihood of wildfire safety action. These three include:

  1. The resident has a strong sense of community, in a community where Firewise action is an accepted norm;
  2. The resident has already done some small action (like mowing or raking);
  3. The resident is receiving information that improves understanding of the effectiveness of Firewise actions

The study further points out that some identified obstacles to individual action, such as cost or complexity, can be overcome by the use of community-wide assistance such as a chipper program or help with retrofitting.

In the context of the Firewise Communities/USA recognition program, it was exciting to find that the study concludes that "these results suggest that engaging residents in doing some type of behavior, no matter how small, provides an important first step to broader adoption of firewise actions."  This finding supports the Firewise concept and the effectiveness of a process focused on starting small and building community norms over time.

Authored by: David R. Godwin, FAC Amabassador


 

&#0160;<em>Where to find timely wildland fire information


 

Part of

being a member of a Fire Adapted Community means staying connected and staying

informed.&#0160; Do you know where to find up

to date wildland fire incident information from reliable and trusted sources?&#0160; Do you know how to monitor wildfire activity

in your state?


 

For many people access to

information has never been easier.&#0160;&#0160;

Twenty-four hours a day many of us have the ability to tune into

televisions, radios, newspapers, magazines and the internet to find a wealth of

news and information.&#0160; This access brings

problems of filtering and screening: how do we find the best sources of

information when we need it?


For current or emerging wildfire incidents,
nearly all wildland fire management agencies have public information officers
or teams dedicated to sharing and disseminating event information.  These teams often manage multiple information
streams depending on their expertise, the needs of the audience, and the scale
of the event.  *For local wildland fire events, information can often be found on local
broadcast and print media websites.*  In
many cases, local newspaper and television station websites often contain
timely updates on events prior to printing or the evening newscast. 


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Firefighters work to manage a small wildfire in the Osceola National Forest in north Florida. Information from small local wildfires can often be found on print and broadcast media websites. For information about larger wildfires that garner national and regional attention, check out the InciWeb website. Photo Credit: David R. Godwin



 

*For

some wildland fire agencies, the *Twitter* social media network has become an

emerging method of providing rapid updates on fire events.*&#0160;

In Florida, the Florida Forest Service (FFS) maintains active Twitter accounts for many of its fifteen multi-county

districts.&#0160; Coordinated by local FFS

Wildfire Mitigation Specialists, these accounts have been used to provide up to

the minute public information on wildfire detections, fire spread and movement,

wildfire location maps, and suppression activities.


 

*Wildfire

events large enough to garner regional and national attention can be tracked

using the federal interagency *InciWeb* website.*&#0160;

InciWeb includes frequently updated information for wildland fire

incidents across the country.&#0160; InciWeb

updates vary in frequency depending on the incident and agency submitting the

information, but they typically include descriptions of the event location, evacuation

zones, fire behavior, fuel and weather conditions, management resources, maps,

photos, and links to related external websites.&#0160;

Abbreviated InciWeb updates can also be found on the Twitter account @InciWeb . </p>

As

you monitor the wildfire situation in your area this summer, be sure to also

check out the NFPA Fire Break

and the Fire Adapted Communities blogs for news and tips on preparing your home

and community for wildand fire events.&#0160;

Finally, while you’re on Twitter, connect with the NFPA Firewise program

on the account @Firewise .

Montanta wildfire education day mascots - Malta 2013

In my family, I’m considered somewhat of a wildfire education zealot.  Much to my husband’s chagrin, I’ll even find ways to implant myself into related conversations with strangers in the checkout line at our neighborhood garden store; and I really get on my soapbox when talking to WUI residents with school age children.  Recently, I heard about a wildfire education day that Karly DeMars, a Fire Mitigation & Education Specialist with the Central & HiLine BLM District Office in Lewistown, MT had put together – and I just had to learn more details!

Following her return from a recent fire assignment, I connected with Karly to get the scoop.  I learned that working in conjunction with multiple interagency partners, DeMars has coordinated wildfire education days in the City of Lewistown during 2008, 2010 and 2012.  Those three events exposed more than 1,900 Lewistown elementary school students to a wide-array of wildland fire topics. This year the event was held for the first time in Malta, and the five-hour extravaganza was called the HiLine Wildfire Education Day.  It included approximately 350 students in Kindergarten thru sixth grade, from Phillips and Blaine counties (in the northeastern part of the state).   

Students participated in hands-on activities that focused on preventing human-caused fires and they learned about wildland fire ecology and firefighting equipment and gear.   Located throughout multiple educational stations were opportunities to learn about fire behavior, fire prevention, rangelands and fire, aviation operations, forestry disease and fire, historic use of fire, wildlife and fire, forestry insects and watch a demonstration with a match-stick forest.  Talk about a wide range of topics!

An added treat was a lunchtime show with well known mascots Smokey Bear, Seymour Antelope and Honker the Blue Goose.  The kids greeted the mascots with hugs and high-fives and even posed with them for pictures.  At the end of the day, each student received an activity bag to commemorate their day of wildfire education.

This year’s Wildfire Education Day was sponsored by the Bureau of Land Management (Malta Field Office), in conjunction with firefighters from the Phillips and Blaine County Rural Fire Departments, Phillips County Disaster & Emergency Services, Fort Belknap Tribal Forestry & Fire, Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation, Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks; U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, USDA – Natural Resources Conservation Service and Border Patrol.    

Demars hopes to do the event again in 2014, and perhaps expand into an additional city. 

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