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2013

BlogWith only a couple months to go before the end of the year,NFPA is hard at work in its effort to “enroll” 1,000 recognized Firewise communities by December 31.

Are you planning on joining NFPA’s 1,000 Safer Places:  The Firewise Communities/USA® Recognition Program Challenge? 

Of course you are (wink, wink) and here’s why … communities in the most active states this year will have a chance to win great prizes, including tools and funding to help you take a swing at wildfire hazards. You definitely don’t want to miss out on this! By becoming an official Firewise site, your neighborhood also lowers its risk for wildfire damage. And that's just pretty awesome, too!

And, okay, so we love competition as much as the next guy … that’s why we created the Firewise Challenge leaderboard (and the nickname: Firewise Throwdown)! Every few weeks we post the names of the top five states leading the “charge” and provide the total number of communities we have to date! As one of my colleagues always says, “Just follow the hand on the Firewise homepage” and you’ll be directed immediately to the current results!

So don’t wait too long to get your paperwork in to the national Firewise program office. Remember, the deadline is December 31, 2013.

Got some last minute questions? Contact the Firewise Communities Program staff for more information. We're here to help ... we want everyone to win the "fight" against wildfire!

As we learned yesterday from one of my colleagues LisaMarie, our NFPA corporate headquarters here in Quincy, Massachusetts was severely impact by smoke caused by a small 21 acre fire burning 0.5 miles due west in the Blue Hills Forest Reservation.  Because smoke tends to sink, my colleagues working on the ground floor of our four story building were the most uncomfortable during the course of the work day.  Most of the complaints were respiratory in nature and shortness in breath.

Year of FiresIn the book I am currently reading by Stephen J. Pyne: The Story of the Great Fires of 1910, Stephen describes how more that more than a century ago people in New England were being impacted by smoke from fires in western states more than 2,200 miles away.

More recently, the significance of this smoke impact was analyzed in a Natural Resources Defense Council report titled “Where There’s is Fire, There’s Smoke”.  The basic premise of the report is wildfires will get worse with climate change and society is not only going to be endangered by those located near the wildfires, but also the health of millions of Americans who are exposed to wildfire smoke that can drift hundreds of miles.  According to the report more than two-thirds of the United States population lived in counties affected by smoke conditions in 2011.

NOAA_SMOKE
Source: NOAA smoke map for fires burning on August 24, 2013

 On October 26th two communities in San Diego each remembered the Cedar Fire in two different ways promoting Firewise Principals to residents.  In Lakeside the site of the tragic loss of 15 civilian lives and one firefighter during the Cedar Fire, a memorial dedication took place at Fire Station #2. The Cedar Fire was the largest fire in California's history over 280,000 acres were burnt. Firewise materials were distributed at this event to share with local residents how they can take action to prepare their homes and communities before a wildfire event so that they are safer.

 In Sherilton Valley residents of the San Diego mountain community participated in a workshop exploring basic Firewise Principals shared by the Firewise Region Advisor as a power point presentation.  Residents were eager to learn about what they were doing right and how they can improve their homes, landscape, roads and water supplies to make their community safer.  There are many simple things that you can do that do not cost a lot of money to make your home safer:

1.  Clean underneath decks and around other attachments such as wooden fences.  Remember if it is attached to the house it is part of the house.

2.  Make sure that the gutters and roof of your home are free of leaves needles and other flammable debris.

3.  Firewise homes and yards are clean!  Make sure that those treasures that you are saving to use someday are placed in a shed or garage and not next to or around your house.  Remove such things as plywood, tires etc.

4.  Make sure that the area closest to your home is very lean and green.  Rake up leaves, pine needles and other flammable materials, make good plant choices (You can find some of these on the Firewise website) that are well cared for.

For more information about how you can have a safer home and community you can learn more on the Firewise Website as well as Ready Set Go and Fire Adapted Communities

 


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Image from Utah Firewise Living brochure



Do you live or work in the Salt Lake City area? Please join NFPA and itswildland fire staff, along with Utah’s wildfire mitigation experts , for a free, informative session following the Backyards & Beyond wildfire
education conference
.

From 1:30 to 4:30 on Saturday afternoon, November 16, Utah
residents, community leaders and emergency responders are welcome to
participate in this free presentation and open discussion about wildfire
safety. Learn first-hand how using Firewise principles can help make your home
and neighborhood safer
,
before a wildfire threatens your area.


Come away with practical action steps you can take around
your home and property to help it resist ignition from wildfire’s embers and
flames. As a participant, you will: 


Learn the basics of fire behavior and how homes ignite

    1. Find out what every Utah landowner should know about wildfire

    2. Discover practical strategies to use on and around your home to
      reduce ignition potential

    3. Understand how your
      neighborhood can earn national recognition as a Firewise
      Communities/USA
      site


 

If you’ve got a burning question, make sure to add it for lively discussion! Just submit it to NFPA’s Wildland Fire Operations Division  no later than November 1 and we’ll make sure to address it on the 16th.


 

The workshop will take place at the Sheraton Salt Lake City Hotel, 150 W. 500 S, and seating is limited. Don’t miss out on this great opportunity to learn more about wildfire safety in your area. Please contact Linda Coyle at lcoyle@nfpa.org  or 617.984.7486 and sign up today! 


!http://i.zemanta.com/141467259_80_80.jpg|src=http://i.zemanta.com/141467259_80_80.jpg|alt=|style=padding: 0; margin: 0; border: 0; display: block; width: 80px; max-width: 100%;!NFPA's 5th Backyards and Beyond Wildland Fire Education Conference slated for Salt Lake City in November
!http://i.zemanta.com/154035185_80_80.jpg|src=http://i.zemanta.com/154035185_80_80.jpg|alt=|style=padding: 0; margin: 0; border: 0; display: block; width: 80px; max-width: 100%;!NFPA announces first Wildfire Preparedness Day of Service on May 4th in Colorado


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Brush Fire in Blue Hills Reservation, Massachusetts. Photo courtesy of Hylton Haynes.




Throughout the year NFPA emphasizes this simple fact:   wildfires can happen anywhere, at any time.


 

That point was made this morning in a state that most would

think unlikely… Massachusetts. As my colleagues and I ventured to work at NFPA

headquarters here in Quincy, Mass., just south of Boston, thick smoke blanketed

the area and the pungent smell of burning vegetation filled our noses. (A

recent report by the Natural Resources Defense Council states that two-thirds

of Americans, or nearly 212 million, lived in counties beset by wildfire smoke

two years ago.)  An email from our

building services department alerted us to an early morning brush fire burning

in the Blue Hills Reservation area, just down the road, which sent firefighters

to the scene, closed streets and put nearby residents on alert.


Due to its rugged terrain, dry soil conditions and
fire-prone vegetation, Blue Hills has continued to be plagued by a history of forest
fire activity. Even with our late October evening temperatures in the
30’s wildfires can still ignite as this one proved. While current news reports
mention there are no structures currently at risk, we do know that all it takes
is an ember or two to take flight and land near a home to create a very
dangerous situation.


 

Our recent Fire Adapted Communities (FAC) advertising

campaign speaks to this point and asks residents to consider that a single

ember from a wildfire can travel over a mile. And while we can’t control where

an ember lands, we can control what happens when it does.


 

Read the press release and watch the PSAs to learn more.


 


NFPA continues to urge all residents to consider wildfire mitigation
activities year round, no matter where you live.  Even the small activities you do can make a
difference.  With fall in full swing, we
have a number of great activities you can do around the house – I bet there are
many you are already doing!


 

Check out the recent Firewise “How To” newsletter for a

great list of wildfire mitigation action steps you can take this season.


 

Need more information to help you get started? Resources can

be found on our “wildfire preparedness” page on the Firewise site and on the “Know
your Role”
page of the FAC site. 

And, as we work on our own wildfire mitigation activies here at home, we'll keep an eye out on that brush fire situation in Blue Hills. 

Carrie Dennett and Faith Berry visited two very unique Arizona Communities.  The first visit was to a Homeowners Association meeting in Aravaipa (“Ar-ah-vie-pah”) Canyon East, a community that is part of the Dudleyville Fire District.  The second community visit was to the San Carlos Apache Reservation outside of Globe Arizona.

SanCarlos

The visit began with a gathering of 22 Aravaipa Canyon East Homeowners on the afternoon of October 12th.  The homeowners asked Carrie and Faith to give a presentation on how to become a recognized Firewise Communities/USA site to the board. The residents were eager to learn how they could protect their homes in this unique riparian environment in Arizona.  Aravaipa Creek which flow year round has carved a scenic canyon through the Sonoran Desert at the northern end of the Galiuro Mountains in southeastern Arizona. Saguaro cacti dot the canyon slopes, and a mixed-broadleaf riparian forest lines the canyon along the creek. The canyon, up to 1,000 feet deep in places, is home to desert bighorn sheep, javelinas, coatimundis, ringtail cats, and other wildlife. The creek is home to several native fish species and over 200 species of birds live among the cottonwoods, sycamores, willows, ash, and other riparian areas in the canyon. The neighbors were eagerly discussing projects such as improving their water supply for firefighters in the event of a wildfire in order to make their homes and their beautiful canyon safer. The next day Carrie and Faith completed a physical inspection of the community in order to take photographs for their community assessment, the first step in becoming a recognize Firewise Community.

The next stop was the San Carlos Apache Reservation.  The San Carlos Reservation is also home to the Geronimo Hotshots.  This elite team is one of seven American Indian elite firefighting crews in the United States.  They assisted in the collaborative effort to fight the Rim Fire in Yosemite National Park this year.

   

Bob Atlas from the Arizona State Department of Forestry  guided Carrie and Faith to the meeting place at the San Carlos Apache Reservation where they met up with Wilfred Steele, the reservation fire prevention. Wilfred explained to Carrie and Faith about some of the fire prevention programs the tribe is already working on including an outreach event to school children which feature’s NFPA’s Sparky.  The community has some older homes as well as recently built homes that incorporated many Firewise principals including dual paned windows and boxed eaves.  The reservation also boasts a recreational lake San Carlos Lake that was developed as a result of the construction of the Coolidge Dam.  Carrie and Faith were given a tour of all the different communities on the reservation in order to take photographs for a community assessment.

If you are interested in becoming a nationally recognized Firewise Communities/USA site visit the Firewise Website and contact your State Fireiwise Liaison or Firewise Regional Advisor.

Understanding the attitudes and perceptions of homeowners who live in the wildland/urban interface (WUI) is the key to more effective outreach and eduction efforts to WUI homeowners, according to an article, Fire on the Mountain:  What Motivates Homeowners to Reduce their Wildfire Risk?, in the 2013 September/October Science Bulletin from the USDA Forest Service

 

Blog
The financial costs of fighting fire in the WUI are enormous - in one survey of land managers, they estimated that between 50 and 95% of firefighting expenditures were attributable to defense of private property. (Photo Credit:  Bryan Day)

As wildfire professionals know, there are many resources available to homeowners that explain how they can reduce the risk of losing their home to a wildfire, but education and information at face value does not always translate into action, the article states. So, the question remains: what does it actually take to get people to change their behavior to reduce their risk of loss? Some of the key findings in the article try and answer this question:
  • Informal social networks (e.g., talking amongst neighbors) were more important than institutional arrangements (e.g., insurance mandates) in terms of promoting firewise mitigation actions.
  • Wildfire information received from local volunteer fire departments, county wildfire specialists, and neighbors was also positively related to higher mitigation levels.
  • Experiencing a major wildfire in the area raised the level of concern of WUI residents for their health and property compared to pre-fire levels.
  • WUI residents tend to underestimate their levels of wildfire risk when their self-assessment is compared to an assessment by a professional. 

Read the entire article.

What are you finding out in the field when you talk to residents? What has been successful? Where do we still need some work? Share your stories with us and our online community. 

For more information on NFPA's resources available for homeowners looking to reduce their wildfire risk, visit our Firewise website and take a look at the "Know Your Role/Homeowners and Residents" page on the Fire Adapted Communities website to see how you can work with other members of your community.

[Popular Mechanics Magazine | http://Popularmechanics.com] was first published in January 1902.  It promotes articles that help the reader master the modern world, presenting trusted information about his home, his car, and his technology and the world around him. The magazine has a circulation of over 1 million readers.


 

 

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In the November 2013 issue the featured article “Line of Fire” by Kalee Thompson highlights the Yarnell Fire in Arizona. The article details the fire and ensuing tragedy.  It also mentions the Firewise and Ready, Set, Go! Programs and the need for residents to take responsibility for their home and immediate surroundings when it comes to mitigating the wildfire peril.


 

The article states,”Over a decade ago, the Forest Service embraced an interagency program called Firewise, (a program of the NFPA ) which helps towns and cities develop wildfire protection plans - everything from taking steps to make houses more resilient and defendable.  Of the estimated 70,000 U.S. communities identified as being in the wildland urban interface 943 of them have now prepared to survive a wildfire up from 400 in 2008.”


The article goes on to describe that although Yarnell with 503 structures was not a Firewise Community, the Pacific Biodiversity Institute of Washington State did conduct a limited analysis of the community’s homes using Google Earth images of the homes before the fire.  According to this article the Institute
determined that only 53 or 11 percent of the homes met basic defensible space standards and only 14 met firewise principles.  Of 503 structures in Yarnell 47 percent burned, of the 53 better prepared less than 10 percent burned of the 14 buildings that followed firewise principles not one burned!


 

The article then quotes Peter Morrison one of the researchers behind the study, “We have this attitude that the firefighters are going to come and rescue us and we don’t have to take responsibility.”  One of the lessons learned is that homeowners can improve the outcome of the survivability of their home and communities by embracing firewise principles as a Firewise Community, preparing using Ready Set Go and becoming a Fire Adapted Community on a larger scale.  Peter Morrison speaking about how better prepared communities can create safer conditions for firefighters goes on to say in the article, “It means that they (firefighters) are going to be much more sucessful in doing their job and much less likely to put their lives at risk.”


!http://i.zemanta.com/206998809_80_80.jpg|src=http://i.zemanta.com/206998809_80_80.jpg|alt=|style=padding: 0; margin: 0; border: 0; display: block; width: 80px; max-width: 100%;!Yarnell Hill Fire report released at Saturday press conference

!http://i.zemanta.com/206538676_80_80.jpg|src=http://i.zemanta.com/206538676_80_80.jpg|alt=|style=padding: 0; margin: 0; border: 0; display: block; width: 80px; max-width: 100%;!Radio problems cited in deaths of 19 firefighters

UtahFireInfo.gov and the United States Forest Service recently teamed up to create videos to address wildfire concerns in Southern Utah. Two of the videos focus on fuel reduction projects and a third focuses on defensible space. Topics include: Defensible Space: Protecting Your Home and Property from Wildfire, Fuels Project Saves Homes from Wildfire in Southern Utah (greater Duck Creek Area),New Harmony Utah Multi-Agency Fuels Projects Saves Homes from Wildfires. The collaboration is an excellent example of interagency teamwork.

To view the videos, check out the latest issue of the Firewise “How To” Newsletter

Australia
Nearly 100 bushfires are reported burning across New South Wales state this week, threatening the western suburbs of Sydney, Australia's largest city, according to fire officials. The fires have already destroyed more than two hundred homes in the Blue Mountains region and one person has died. Firefighters continue to battle three particular blazes, concerned that they could turn into one "mega-fire" that would force Sydney residents to evacuate.

Reports on Tuesday forecasted hot, dry weather and strong winds for the next few days in addition to isolated storms, which were predicted to hit Blue Mountains earlier this week. Australian meteorologists have commented that it is unlikely there will be enough rain from these storms to dampen the fires and say they are concerned that high winds and even lightning could cause even further damage.

The causes of the Blue Mountains fires are being investigated and according to news reports, officials are looking into whether one major blaze was caused by a military training exercise.

NFPA's Wildland Fire Operations Division is concerned about these communities and continues to keep an eye on the situation. 

For more information on bushfires in Australia, check out an article in the special September 2011 wildfire issue of NFPA Journal, "Stay or Go," which provides a glimpse into Australia's wildfire policy and the current state of wildfire in the country.

Carrie Dennett and Faith Berry visited two very unique Arizona Communities.  The first visit was to a Homeowners Association meeting in Aravaipa (“Ar-ah-vie-pah”) Canyon East, a community that is part of the Dudleyville Fire District.  The second community visit was to the San Carlos Apache Reservation outside of Globe Arizona.

The visit began with a gathering of 22 Aravaipa Canyon East Homeowners on the afternoon of October 12th.  The homeowners asked Carrie and Faith to give a presentation as part of their board meeting about what Firewise Communities were and how their community could participate. The residents were eager to learn how they could protect their homes in this unique riparian environment in Arizona.  Aravaipa Creek which flow year round has carved a scenic canyon through the Sonoran Desert at the
northern end of the Galiuro Mountains in southeastern Arizona. Saguaro cacti dot the canyon slopes, and a mixed-broadleaf riparian forest lines the canyon along the creek. The canyon, up to 1,000 feet deep in places, is home to desert bighorn sheep, javelinas, coatimundis, ringtail cats, and other wildlife. The creek is home to several native fish species and over 200 species of birds live among the cottonwoods, sycamores, willows, ash, and other riparian areas in the canyon. The neighbors were eagerly discussing projects such as improving their water supply for firefighters in the event of a wildfire in order to make their homes and their beautiful canyon safer. The next day Carrie and Faith completed a physical inspection of the community in order to take photographs for their community assessment, this is the first step in becoming a recognize Firewise Community.

The next community visited was the San Carlos Apache Reservation.  The San Carlos Reservation is also home to the Geronimo Hotshots.  This elite team is one of seven American Indian elite firefighting crews in the United States.  They assisted in the collaborative effort to fight the Rim Fire in Yosemite National Park this year.

   

Bob Atlas who works for the Arizona State Department of Forestry was the guide for Carrie and Faith
to find the meeting place at the San Carlos Apache Reservation with Wilfred Steele a fire prevention officer on the reservation.  Wilfred explained to Carrie and Faith about some of the fire prevention programs the tribe is already working on including an outreach event to school children which feature’s the NFPA’s Sparky.  The community has some older homes as well as recently built homes that incorporated many Firewise principals including dual paned windows and boxed eaves.  The reservation also boasts a recreational lake San Carlos Lake that was developed as a result of the construction of the Coolidge Dam.  Carrie and Faith were given a tour of all the different communities on the reservation in order to take photographs for a community assessment.

If you are interested in becoming a nationally recognized Firewise Community in order to create a safer community in the event of awildfire go to the Firewise Website and contact your State Liaison and Firewise Regional Advisor.

Is your community Firewise?

We challenge you, neighborhood residents, to "take a swing" against wildfire!

BYBWith only a few months to go before the end of the year, NFPA is hard at work in its effort to "enroll" 1,000 recognized Firewise communities by December 31. To date, our records show a total of 980 sites in 40 states! This number includes communities that have renewed their Firewise status and those that have become officially recognized for the first time during 2013. Awesome job!

While we're confident that we'll get to our goal, we've added an extra "punch" to our efforts with a Firewise Challenge campaign. Check out this lighthearted approach and see what all the buzz is about!

You can follow the progress of "1,000 Safer Places:  The Firewise Challenge," on our website and learn more about how you can get involved!

Fire Break OctoberThe October issue of NFPA’s wildland fire newsletter, is now available for viewing. In this issue, you can:

  • Read the report regarding the cause of the Yarnell Hill Fire that ultimately led to the deaths of the 19 members of the Granite Mountain Hotshots crew in Arizona in June
  • Learn about NFPA’s newest wildfire project, the 2014 national Wildfire Community Preparedness Day event slated for May 3
  • Check out our latest Fall Firewise “How To” newsletter for tips and resources regarding wildfire safety around your home
  • Read a feature article in New York Times Magazine about the current state of wildfire and those who play a major role in tackling this major issue

… 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.

 

The Huffington Post (October 10, 2013) reported that the number of homes at risk from wildfires in western US jumped 62 percent in the past year as more properties were developed in fire-prone areas, according to a report released last week.


 

According to new report that was recently released by CoreLogic Inc. about 1.2 million homes valued at more than $189 billion are located in high to very high wildfire potential zones in several western states.


 

 

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 Image 1

: Residential exposure for the western U.S. by wildfire risk category (Corelogic, Inc. 2013)


 

This report  comes near the end of the current fire season that saw the most destructive fire in Colorado history (Black Forest Fire ), marked one of the largest burns on record in California (Rim Fire ), caused the deaths of 33 firefighters (Yarnell Hill Fire  and others) and strained USDA Forest Service firefighting resources.


!http://i.zemanta.com/209967345_80_80.jpg|src=http://i.zemanta.com/209967345_80_80.jpg|alt=|style=padding: 0; margin: 0; border: 0; display: block; width: 80px; max-width: 100%;!Report: $189B in Western U.S. Properties 'Very High' Wildfire Potential

!http://i.zemanta.com/noimg_72_80_80.jpg|src=http://i.zemanta.com/noimg_72_80_80.jpg|alt=|style=padding: 0; margin: 0; border: 0; display: block; width: 80px; max-width: 100%;!Rising number of U.S. homes at risk from wildfires -report

Salt Lake City
Don't miss out! There's still time to register for NFPA's Backyards & Beyond Conference, which will take place in Salt Lake City, Utah, November 14-16, 2013. This wildfire safety education conference will have dozens of informative education sessions, many of which will focus on the pressing issues facing the wildfire industry today. Join like-minded WUI residents, fire professionals, community leaders and others at this one-of-a-kind event! 

We also know that some of you have been affected by the recent government shutdown and could not register in the last few weeks. Rest assured that we have extended our early-bird deadline and will continue to honor the early-bird rates. Please don't hesitate to contact us with any questions or concerns you may have.

Visit www.nfpa.org/backyardsandbeyond for more information and to register. We look forward to seeing you!

Join communities throughout the U.S. on Saturday, May 3, 2014 as NFPA launches its first national Wildfire Community Preparedness Day (Wildfire Preparedness Day)!

What it’s all about

Inspired by our 2013 Colorado Wildfire Preparedness Day of Service pilot last May, the 2014 Wildfire Preparedness Day, takes the concept beyond the state level and propels it nationwide  – a campaign that helps educate and motivate residents of all ages across the country to participate in wildfire mitigation and preparedness activities. 

ServiceDay-Logo-NEW

Participate in activities on your own, with a few family members or with a larger group of friends and neighbors. Activities can range from simple tasks that last an hour to more involved activities that take an entire day. But no matter what you choose to do, most projects can be done easily by all age groups.  Looking for some ideas? Check out our list of potential projects on the Firewise.organd fireadapted.orgwebsites to help get your creative juices flowing…

 …And thank you! Efforts such as these increase wildfire awareness, promote collaboration and bring residents together to work on projects that can help protect homes, neighborhoods and entire communities from future wildfire risk or current post-fire impacts. When you and your family members, friends and neighbors get together, you are making important contributions in the high risk areas where you live and ultimately, you are creating safer, more fire adapted communities for everyone. 

Is your community already a recognized Firewise Communities/USA site? Consider using May 3, 2014 to serve as, or supplement the Firewise Day event required as a part of the annual renewal process

Our 2013 Colorado Day of Service campaign saw groups of all ages participate in more than 16 projects across the state with more than 600 participants. Our goal is to more than triple that number in 2014.

Where to begin

To learn more about the Wildfire Preparedness Day, visit www.nfpa.org/wildfirepreparednessday.

For project ideas that can be done around your home and across your neighborhood, check out our project ideas list (PDF, 26 KB). In some areas, organized group projects may be available for you to join – check our Facebook page in the future to see if there’s one near you. You can also follow us on @Firewise and join the conversation at #WildfirePrepDay.

With a few months to go before the big day, we’ll have lots of new information to share including updated project sites, project ideas, safety tips, templates, flyers and more. Visit our 2014 Wildfire Community Preparedness Day webpage regularly for the latest news and resources. 

What are you waiting for? Do something GREAT – be a local champion, and get started today!

Maguire
Patti Maguire, Firewise Advisor to the Southwest Region
“The after effects of a wildfire can be just as devastating and destructive as the fire itself. Immediate restoration of burned areas is critical but sometimes comes too little and too late,” says Patti Maguire, Firewise Advisor to the Southwest Region. Maguire was featured in the latest addition of the “Firewise: How-To Newsletter.”

 

Before serving as Firewise Advisor Maguire worked as a wildland fire prevention specialist and forest health consultant for the USDA Forest Service as well as the Bureau of Land Management. During her time with the USDA Forest Service she served as a member of the Prevention and Education Team, traveling the Western and Great Plains states to provide an intensive public awareness campaign in communities experiencing extreme wildfire conditions. Maguire also worked on fire prevention programs with the Bureau of Indian Affairs, which she notes, is quite effective.

“Fire is an integral part of Native American history and culture,” Maguire notes. Many reservations, such as Pine Ridge where she worked “utilize prescribed burns to create buffer zones between communities and the grasslands.” Burn Permit programs are also used to help reduce the risk of “woody debris” fires from escaping into the community.

For more on this story check out the latest issue of the Firewise “How-To” Newsletter.

HIZ-mapWith the change in seasons, fall is an excellent time to focus “inward” on the areas closest to your home, according to the latest issue of the Firewise “How-To” Newsletter. In these areas debris can accumulate creating a greater risk in the event that embers or flames come near. While the home ig
nition zone (HIZ)
typically includes property within 150 feet of your home, concentrating on the areas closest to your home – 0 to 5 feet from structures – can make a tremendous difference when it comes to preventing the risk of fire.

For more safety tips and to read the full story, check out the Fall 2013 issue of the Firewise “How-To” Newsletter

Carol's blog - Oct 13
Photo Credit:  Mike McMillan USFS (Rim Fire - Fire in the Pines)

Since the start of the year, we've posted a monthly young artists series of artwork with wildfire topics, provided by our friends with the Napa County, CA Firewise program.  This month's artwork submission was accompanied by an article authored by Carol Rice, a wildfire consultant to the Napa Firewise program.  I had concerns that the excellent information she provided might get lost amongst the artwork being highlighted, so I'm sharing it with you here today in its entirety, and I'm sure you'll agree Carol's submission is more than worthy of its own post.

When I was in graduate school my professor complained that NASA spent more that year studying small fires in space than the entire national budget on researching wildfire here at home.  He noted that a small fire inside a building (or spacecraft) was easy to explain compared with a wildfire.  It’s the  complexity of open air, uneven topography and the mix of fuels that make wildfire truly wild.

Any wildland firefighter will tell you wildfire has yet to be domesticated. Fire is like a wild animal. It can appear tame one moment, and very unpredictable and dangerous the next.

The interaction of fuels, weather and topography (the landscape) is akin to “rock-paper-scissors”—not any one dominates—but wind may be the factor that is most capricious. Terrain and wind often collude to keep fire more random. A slight topographic depression, for example, can cause the start of a fire whirlwind, a mini-tornado of fire that can consume 3 times as much fuel in any one spot.  No one can
predict when or where this phenomenon may occur.  Speaking of wild, winds also work to concentrate heat in canyons that act as chimneys. When the air arrives at the top of the ridge, eddies form on the leeward or down wind side, away from the fire like a Jacuzzi turned on its side. 

Fuel for a wildfire is never as uniform as a gas burner for a stove or a carburetor of a car. Grass, brush and forests have small gaps interspersed with areas of higher fuel densities. This makes for uneven burning, so when a fire gets a head of steam, it often surprises.

Because grasses burn so quickly, they can be more easily affected by a shift in wind direction. A short burst of wind in a different direction can send the path of fire a long way in a short time. More firefighter fatalities have occurred in light fuels than any other type of fuel.

Perhaps the most challenging aspect of wildfire is that we don’t know where or when it will occur. If we knew, we could control the environment to make it less combustible, or prevent its occurrence altogether.  Because we don’t know when a wildfire might arrive at our doorstep, the best strategy is to manage fuels so that an approaching wildfire will burn with less intensity in order to reduce damage and help with containment. In other words, because wildfire is still WILD, we need to prepare by embracing and implementing Firewise principles

 About the author: Carol Rice has consulted on fire management in the wildland-urban interface for over thirty years. She is a University of California Berkeley alumna with a Masters in fire science and management.

“The Science of Home Ignition: Reducing your Home’s Vulnerability to Wildfire” program on Monday, Oct. 21, 6:30 – 8 p.m.

Boulder County, Colorado - How do homes burn during wildfires? Dr. Stephen Quarles, one of the nation’s leading scientists studying this issue, has answers for homeowners looking to protect their property.

At the Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety’s Research Center, Dr. Quarles injects burning embers into the wind stream in a large testing chamber, effectively reproducing ember storms typically observed during wildfires. Full-scale homes and commercial structures are built and transported into the test chamber so Dr. Quarles can study how ember attack and torching vegetation ignite structures. The primary objective of this research is to reduce the likelihood of wildfire-caused building ignitions in
communities located in wildfire-prone areas such as the foothills of Boulder County.Boulder_Presentation
To reach the Boulder County Regional Fire Training Center, drive through the Boulder Reservoir’s main entrance, continue past the recreational facilities, and drive to the end of the road where the center is located.

This presentation is part of Wildfire Awareness Month.  Boulder County declared October as Wildfire Awareness Month in 2011 based on a recommendation from residents to help educate the community and promote individual responsibility in preparing for future wildfires. Other events planned for the month, including the Wildfire Mitigation Challenge, have been cancelled due to the impacts of the September flood.

For more information, visit www.BoulderCountyWildfireAware.org, or contact Wildfire Mitigation Specialist Andrew Notbohm at 720-564-2625 or anotbohm@bouldercounty.org.

Goeller
Mark Goeller, State Fire Management Chief for Oklahoma Forestry Services
 “It’s important to have homeowners who understand that they have a role to play and that taking action is extremely helpful to reducing the overall wildfire exposure risk for their community,” says Mark Goeller, State Fire Management Chief for Oklahoma Forestry Services. Goeller, who was interviewed in the most recent issue of the Firewise “How To” newsletter, discussed the changes in wildfire awareness and management in his state, and the benefits of the Firewise program, drawing knowledge from his more than 25 years of experience in the field. Oklahoma, which has risen to 9th in the nation with the Firewise Communities Program, has seen an increase in wildfire activity in recent years. Last August the state lost 580 homes in the first weekend of the month alone due to drought. But according to Goeller, “even small actions taken by the homeowner matter.” 

Goeller says one of the strengths of the Firewise Communities Program is its emphasis on personal responsibility. “The bottom line is, when a wildfire strikes, we don’t have enough resources to allocate and defend every single house that is exposed. Taking personal responsibility for wildfire preparedness around the home and maintaining defensible space matters.”

To find out more about the development of the Firewise program in Oklahoma and to read Goeller’s mitigation tips, check out the Fall 2013 issue of the Firewise “How To” newsletter


FallleavesAnother summer has come to a close in some areas of the country. The days are getting shorter and the nights a little colder. There are still things we should keep in mind to keep our homes safe during the fall season.

Nothing beats having a fire in our fireplaces or wood burning stoves when the temperatures drop. If you’re like me, you’ll find yourself turning your backside to the fire to feel the warmth. Now is a perfect time to make sure our chimneys are clean and the spark arrester is secured. We don’t think of what goes up and out of our chimney when we are inside.  The crackle of the wood burning can send embers up and out of the chimney, possibly causing a fire to start in our yard much like a large wildland fire sends embers into the air that are carried out in front of the fire and cause “spot fires”. Having a spark arrester in place helps eliminate these embers landing on our roof and in our yard. Having a clean chimney will assist in the fireplace or wood stove function properly -- not to mention making it safer to use.

Most homeowners who have fireplaces will bring their firewood closer to the house in the cooler weather. While this will save a walk to get firewood, it could be dangerous. Wind and animals can fill the gaps in the stacked wood with fine materials that can catch fire very easily. All it takes is for an ember to land in one of these spaces and ignite these fine fuels. Once these are ignited, they can ignite the larger wood pieces causing a fire to get quickly out of control. Remember - if the firewood is stacked on a deck or touching the home, it now has become part of the home and can lead fire directly to the home. Keep your firewood at least 30 feet from the home. Keeping the pile covered could help keep embers from landing in the void spaces in the stack.

If your home has gutters, and you are anywhere close to trees, your gutters will collect debris that could threaten your home during a wildfire. Gutters are something we don’t think about cleaning until it rains and they overflow. What about that material in our gutters when it’s not raining? Usually that material is exposed to the sun for periods of time and will dry out and become extremely vulnerable to ignition from embers. Pine needles and leaves can collect in gutters without us knowing. The time to worry about this is NOT during a fire! Cleaning gutters may not be a one-time job depending on where you live. In some areas, you may need to clean your gutters a few times a season.

These are just a few safety items that come with the fall season. For a list of safety tips homeowners can use around the home, visit the Firewise Communities/USA website at www.firewise.org.  

10-7-2013 10-59-27 AMI was asked by a friend and colleague Annabelle Cornejo, Public Relations Officer for the Cleveland National Forest to assist at a San Diego City Wide Expo that would provide residents with information they needed to be better prepared during a wildfire event.  The expo was hosted by the Sharp Health Care System on October 5th from 10 am to 1 pm off of Kearny Mesa Road in the heart of the City of San Diego.  There were many families that came to both have fun and learn about information and skills to better prepare themselves.  All of the attending vendors were asked to do something fun to engage the families.  The Firewise Booth was decorated for the season and I told a happy ending story to the children about how they could help their parents make their home Firewise!  The children enjoyed the stories and the goodies.  Groups of teens who do yard work both as a job helping seniors in their community and for their parents were eager to learn how they could do yard work in a Firewise manner.  The Firewise Guide to Landscape maintenance was a big hit!  Residents from Ramona, Temecula, Scripps Ranch, Poway, City Heights and Lakeside stopped by the booth to learn about how they and their community could participate.  Many residents also took a Firewise bookmark  where they learned about online courses including The Firewise Landscaping Course, The Community Assessment Course and for firefighters Firefighter Safety in the Wildland Urban Interface that are available free of charge through the Firewise website.  Residents were also interested in many of the products.

Many of the participating vendors at this expo would be great additions to any community Firewise Day.  Your Firewise Day can enlist the participation of many local partners such as:

  1. An EMT company taught children and teens CPR skills with a child sized dummy.
  2. The local power company gave away landline phones.
  3. A fire extinguisher company taught children PASS (Pull, Aim, Squeeze, Sweep) skills for using a fire extinguisher.
  4. The American Red Cross showed Residents how to make “Ready Backpacks”.
  5. The State Department of Transportation showed residents how their mobile command trailer worked.
  6. A local outdoor outfitter demonstrated how to prepare dehydrated food.
  7. The local animal shelter showed residents how to make preparations for their pets.
  8. Other participants could include your fire district, school district, hospital, water
    district, road department and others.

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If your Firewise community has not yet hosted the Firewise Day these may be some ideas to liven up the day and make it fun for the whole family.  Remember you can renew your community’s status on line if you are already a Firewise Community.  If you would like more information about how you can be a recognized Firewise Community contact your state liaison and Firewise Region Advisor we would be happy to help you understand how you can create a safer community and home. Being Firewise after all is a community and a family affair!

 

 

 

http://nfpa.typepad.com/.a/6a00d8351b9f3453ef019affd4ef58970c-pi

Jobs
NFPA is currently looking to hire a Senior Project Manager of our wildland fire community outreach programs, Firewise Communities and Fire Adapated Communities. This position will be located in either NFPA's Denver, CO office, or in the Quincy, MA headquarters. 

The Senior Project Manager will independently plan and direct these two national community outreach programs. They will identify project objectives, coordinates resources, develop and monitor program budget including federal funding, and oversee team members to deliver project results.

Complete job requirements and responsibilities can be found on our careers website. Think you are a good fit? Apply today!

Furlough
Taped to the door of a U.S. Forest Service office in South Dakota, October 1, 2013. Photo by Bill Gabbert

In light of the government shutdown this week I started thinking, hmmm, how does this affect firefighters, and in particular, our wildland firefighters?

 

Well, the quick answer is, some wildland firefighters have been sent home, temporarily furloughed without pay, while others continue to work, ready to suppress fires, according to to Bill Gabbert, who writes the Wildfire Today blog. 

Bill states that the U.S. Forest Service, in a Contingency Plan written September 20, expects 41 percent of its 32,015 employees  to continue to work. This includes 9,800 who are engaged in:

  • Fire suppression activities
  • Securing and protecting property at field locations including research facilities
  • Managing some timber sale contracts

But there's a whole lot more to this story. Read Bill's blog to get the big picture of what's taking place in D.C. and with our (wildland) firefighters.

Have you been affected by the shutdown? Do you see evidence of its impact where you live? Share your thoughts with us. We look forward to hearing from you.

Grizzly Flats a recognized Firewise Communities/USA® site for 5 years in California has been working hard to educate residents about the risks of wildfire and  how residents can take action to lessen their risk of loss during a wildfire event.  Grizzly Flats is a community with a population of about 1,200.  Their recent educational outreach event titled “One Less Spark One Less Wildfire” was hosted collaboratively with the US Forest Service.  The event was attended by 260 people which makes up almost one quarter of the community's population.  Four US Forest Service employees made presentations and handed out materials at the event.  It was an event that gave residents hands on experience and an opportunity to interact with their US Forest Service Partners.

Grizzly_Flats_1
Image 1: Pictures from the Grizzly Flats Firewise Community/One Less Spark One Less Wildfire outreach eventthat was hosted collaboratively with the US Forest Service.

Grizzly Flats also hosted two Firewise Days.  According to Mark Almer their Chairperson, “The first was titled “Community Safety and Firewise Day” and was held on Saturday, May 11. It was held at Pioneer Fire Protection District Fire Station 35 on Sciaroni Road in Grizzly Flats. This was an indoor event that featured speakers from CAL FIRE (BC Mike Webb), the duty crew from the Grizzly Flats US Forest Service Station 63 and representatives from the Grizzly Flat Fire Safe Council’s Executive Board (Mark Almer, Chair; Steve Hupner, Treasurer and Sandi Brush, First Vice-Chair).  There was also a presentation demonstrating the devastating results from wildfire and how the attendees could achieve defensible space at their property. The second and main Firewise Day was held on July 27th and also served as our annual fundraiser.” 

Grizzly_Flats_2
Image 2: May 11th Firewise Day held at Pioneer District Station 35.  CAL FIRE's Battalion Chief Mike Webb is presenting.

Firewise Communities give residents in communities a great opportunity to partner with agency partners on a variety of projects and educational outreach events.  If your community would like to learn more about how they can work together to create a safer environment for residents and the surrounding environment go to the Firewise Communities/USA® website, or contact your state liaison and regional advisor.

Since this strategic initiative was rolled out in June 2012 there has been a lot of discussion on what the purpose of this initiative is and how it relates to established outreach programs like the IAFC’s Ready, Set, Go! program and NFPA’s Firewise Communities/USA® recognition program. 

Due to the complexity of the wildfire burden our nation faces, there has been a lot of tension around the word “community” and how one goes about defining it.  The interpretation of “community” in the context of ‘fire adapted communities’ is further complicated because of its origins in the ecological sciences and application in the social sciences.  One only need look up the definition of ‘community’ to realize that this term is applied to many different scales in both social and ecological constructs. 

In summary: a fire adapted community accepts fire as a part of the natural landscape — understanding its fire risk and collaborating to take action before a wildfire occurs to reduce those risks. For members of a community who are ready to act, Fire Adapted Communities brings together the many organizations and resources available to help each community member address their specific wildfire mitigation needs. The more actions a community takes, the more fire adapted it becomes.

By design, due to the diversity of our national landscape (socio-political, economic and environmental)this initiative is non-prescriptive.  It is a directive from Congress to elevate wildfire preparedness and mitigation in the public consciousness in an effort to promote and enhance collaborative planning and action across jurisdictions and ownerships with the sole purpose of reducing our society’s wildland fire risk exposure. In other words, the charge is for all of us to work at every level to reduce the burden of wildfire on American society.

Last week I had the good fortune to talk with Fred Turck, who is the Assistant Director of Fire Prevention for the Virginia Department of Forestry, about the tension and angst around the Fire Adapted Communities concept and definition.  Taking a holistic approach, Virginia will be using Fire Adapted Communities at the county level by leveraging the collaborative construct of a county-wide Community Wildfire Protection Plan.  The view in Virginia is that a Fire Adapted Community is analogous to a Fire Adapted ‘County’ where as a ‘community’ they are aware of their wildfire risk and are working collaboratively with county leaders and agencies to mitigate the risk. The first step in this process involves education, information and planning.  When it comes to individual groupings of homes within the county, they will ALWAYS be referred to as a Firewise Community, with any individual homeowner working to become more “Firewise”.

FAC_model
Image 1:  Fire Adapted Communities is a non-prescriptive holistic approach to wildfire risk reduction.

The bottom line: the term ‘fire adapted communities’ is here to stay and will continue to evoke and elicit many different interpretations, perspectives and emotions.  The more important thing to consider is how one can direct this passion and energy into action that results in Congress’s desired outcome - national wildfire burden reduction.

Yarnell
A wildfire burns in Prescott, Ariz., on June 18. The fire covered nearly 11 square miles of the Prescott National Forest.

As people move farther into wildland areas and climate change turns landscapes into tinder, experts say the wildfire danger around the country will likely only grow, according to a recent report on National Public Radio (NPR). But there are lessons to learn...if we are willing to change our approach to dealing with the wildfire threat.

Listen to the full report, which aired on NPR, Sunday, September 29.

A team representing the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) recently completed a field visit to Texas.  Molly Mowery, Program Manager, Fire Adapted Communities & International Outreach, Hylton Haynes, Firewise Associate Project Manager and Patti Maguire, Firewise Advisor for the Southwest Region, flew to Houston to meet with Texas A & M Forest Service (TFS) managers and staff to discuss the state of their Wildfire Prevention and Mitigation programs.

Firewise Communities
Image 1:  Texas has 63 communities that have particpated in the Firewise Communities/USA recognition.  Year to date 59 of these Firewise communities are currently recognized sites (active).

TFS  provides landowners and local Fire Departments with a variety of support services to help prevent damage from wildland fire events.  Texans concerned about their wildland fire risk may call upon the TFS to provide risk assessments, help with Community Wildfire Prevention Program development, and participate in fuel reduction projects. Local Fire Departments may apply for grant assistance to receive much needed resources to further their fire protection capabilities.  Protective clothing and firefighting equipment are much appreciated in these mostly volunteer fire departments.

On September 11, 2013 the team traveled to Austin, TX to participate in the Fire Adapted Communities Symposium at the State Capitol.  The room was filled to capacity with interested parties.  Participation in the event included stakeholders from Federal, State and local Fire Service personnel, as well as Law Enforcement, Code Officials, Insurance industry and local landowners. The focus of the Fire Adapted Communities Symposiums is to engage stakeholders and encourage further development of a cohesive strategy to embrace inter-agency and multi-jurisdictional planning and cooperation in wildland fire prevention and mitigation. 

NFPA’s Firewise Communities program encourages fuel reduction and creation of defensible space throughout neighborhoods, where participants are recognized for their efforts. The Fire Adapted Communities concept takes wildfire prevention and preparedness to the next level as an umbrella program promoting cooperation between not only landowners, but all the entities that may be affected or called upon to respond to a wildland fire event.

During the course of our 3 day tour in Texas, the team participated in Firewise Recognition ceremonies at The Colony community in Bastrop, TX where neighbors have worked hard to reduce fuels and create defensible space throughout their subdivision. Norman Jones, the community’s Firewise Committee Chair, accepted a Firewise sign and plaque in recognition of Bastrop County’s first Firewise Community.

 

Video 1: The Texas Fire Storm of 2011

In San Antonio at Leon Valley Fire Department, Fire Chief Luis Valdez accepted a Firewise sign and plaque to display in honor of their fuel reduction work, most notably, creating a shaded fuel break, bordering a nature preserve in the heart of a residential neighborhood.

The NFPA team appreciates the Texas hospitality extended to us and looks forward to continued partnerships in assisting wildfire prevention efforts throughout the region.

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