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Why do we prepare?

Posted by michelesteinberg Employee Aug 8, 2013

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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'll be part of a panel at the NFPA Backyards & Beyond Wildfire Safety Education conference in Salt Lake City. The panel discussion topic is "Why Do We Prepare?" and takes an angle of discussing property insurance and homeowner motivation. 


Watchingthe news today coming out of Riverside, California, I feel what I can only describe as battle fatigue when talking - AGAIN -  about fire, preparedness, evacuation and home safety. But sincerepetition is key to learning, I'll take this opportunity to repeat our messages. So why do we prepare for wildfire? Well, some reasons are so that we don't have to show up on the news in tears, we don't have to lose everything we own, and we don't have to suffer injury or die because we weren'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'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's speaking this monthin her home state of Colorado and offering advice and tips to others living with the reality of wildfire risks. 


In an interview with the +Summit Daily+ newspaper, she said about her experience, “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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!|src=|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.

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