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.
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.