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To all the wonderful Firewise advocates in the 40 U.S. states, the local officials, fire departments and most of all residents who have worked hard this year to earn or to keep their recognition status -- congratulations! Becoming Firewise is so much more than a number...but our staff and colleagues are proud to show the spread and growth of this wildfire safety program around the country. 

May you all continue to find ways to improve your home, family and community readiness for wildfire and to become fire adapted. Best wishes for a safe, happy and prosperous 2014!

One final update to go - 

Current Leaderboard:

* !|border=0|src=|alt=Firewise Throwdown|style=margin: 0px 0px 5px 5px;|title=Firewise Throwdown|class=asset asset-image at-xid-6a00d8351b9f3453ef01a5101b6041970c img-responsive!Arkansas*


New Jersey



As of this morning, there are 1028 active Firewise communities.  2013 year-to-date there have been 686 renewals and 120 newly recognized communities.  This means there are 222 outstanding Firewise Communities that need to renew in order to maintain their recognition status through 2014.


The&#0160;Firewise Challenge cut-off is December 31. A final Firewise Challenge update one on January 2. We will announce publicly the winning states on Friday, February 7, 2014 on our&#0160;[blog |] and [Facebook page |].</p> </div>

Leaderboard Update:

  • Arkansas Firewise Throwdown
  • Colorado
  • Washington
  • New Jersey
  • Tennessee

As of this morning, there are 1028 active Firewise communities.  2013 year-to-date there have been 658 renewals and 119 newly recognized communities.  This means there are 251 outstanding Firewise Communities that need to renew in order to maintain their recognition status through 2014.

The Firewise Challenge cut-off is December 31. A Firewise Challenge update will be made tomorrow morning and a final one on January 2. We will announce publicly the winning states on Friday, February 7, 2014 on our blog and Facebook page.


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This week marks the six-month anniversary of Arizona&#39;s Yarnell Hill Fire, the deadliest day for firefighters since the September 11 terrorist attacks. Nineteen members of the Granite Mountain Hotshots died during the incident.&#0160;


Commemorating the June 30 event is The Weather Channel, which has developed the documentary and long-form article, &quot;America Burning: The Yarnell Hill Tragedy and the Nation&#39;s Wildfire Crisis.&quot; The video recaps radio communication from the team the day of the fire and includes fresh interviews with fire historians, meteorologists, fire investigators, and widows of the men who lost their lives. Also providing his take on U.S. wildfires in recent years is Stephen Pyne, who is regarded as one of the world&#39;s leading experts in the environmental history of fire. (Read the +NFPA Journal+ interview with Pyne.)


&quot;The way you control fire is by controlling what is out there,&quot; Pyne says in the documentary. &quot;So, we&#39;re going to have a lot more fires in the landscape unless you take control of the landscape itself.&quot; The long-form article mentions NFPA&#39;s Firewise Communities Program, which encourages homeowners living in the wildland/urban interface (WUI) to mitigate their wildfire risks.


The article also raises larger questions on the state of wildfires in the U.S., the role of climate change, and the current challenges of living in the WUI. &quot;We can&#39;t rest on our laurels anymore,&quot; says meteorologist Mike Bettes in the video. &quot;We&#39;re getting to a point where these events have become so extreme. is a call to action.&quot;


Read the article, and watch the full-length documentary here:




[America Burning: The Yarnell Hill Tragedy and the Nation&#39;s Wildfire Crisis |] from Weather Films on Vimeo .

!|src=|alt=|style=padding: 0; margin: 0; border: 0; display: block; width: 80px; max-width: 100%;!PBS interviews NFPA's Ken Willette about Arizona's Yarnell Hill Fire and its challenging conditions for firefighters

!|src=|alt=|style=padding: 0; margin: 0; border: 0; display: block; width: 80px; max-width: 100%;!Yarnell Hill Fire report released at Saturday press conference

Attention fire departments: February 7 is the deadline to apply for the NFPA&#39;s Rolf H. Jensen Memorial Public Education Grant . The $5,000 grant is presented annually to a local fire department to support a community-wide fire and life safety education program or campaign. Funded by the RJA Group, the grant is open to any fire department –career or volunteer– in the United States or Canada.



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

  • Learn why it’s important for communities to continue their wildfire mitigation efforts, despite the fact that the U.S. experienced fewer wildfires this year.  
  • Find a link to NFPA’s recent “Brush, Grass and Forest Fires” report.
  • Learn about NFPA’s “A Salute to the National Firewise Family” event to thank our recognized communities for participating in wildfire safety efforts.
  • Get introduced to our newest member of the wildfire division, Lucian Deaton.

… 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.

Co Springs Chipping Cedar Heights - 2013
Photo credit:  Amy Sylvester, CSFD

I can always count on my friend Christina Randall, Wildfire Mitigation Administrator with the City of Colorado Springs Fire Department for a jaw dropping mitigation story, and last Friday, she didn't disappoint.  As I hungrily munched on egg rolls and wonton soup at lunch, she casually mentioned a recent milestone framed around some trivia; their eleven-month cumulative neighborhood chipping equaled the weight of 17,482 second graders (the vision of my seven-year-old niece Julia and more than 17,000 of her friends, was more than I could wrap my mind around).  As you can imagine, I nearly choked on the wonton I'd just taken a bite of. 

With a smirk the size of Pikes Peak (the 14,115 foot mountain to the west of where we were having lunch), Christina laughed and said while recently working on a monthly report for Fire Marshal Brett Lacey, she found their year-to-date neighborhood chipping at 3,418 homes, totaled a whopping 568 tons.  Out of curiosity, she'd done a quick Internet search to see what things weigh in at 500 tons, and to her amazement found a graphic that provided many unusual bragging rights for the fire marshal's office.  Those diverse comparisons included: 

  • 17,482 second graders
  • 12 humpback whales
  • 1 jetliner at takeoff
  • 285 SUV’s
  • 22 motor homes
  • 100,000 ten pound bowling balls                       

CSFD graphic - Dec 2013
                     Graphic credit:  AT&T Insider

In reality, the number of second graders could be significantly increased since CSFD's actual total was 68 tons more than the point of reference used in the graphic.  So, in an attempt to help a friend get it correct, I dusted off my calculator and those unaccounted for 68 tons, not included in the graphic, increases the number of students (on average a second grader weighs 65 pounds) by 2,092, for a total of 19,574 second graders.  Now that's something that should be part of the Guinness World Records.

After completing that calculation, I picked up the phone and called Santa to ask how many reindeer are equivalent to 568 tons and the jolly old guy told me to let Christina know that 3,786 reindeer bulls (average weight of 300 pounds) would be very close to that weight.  That provides another visual we can all comprehend as we close out the year!

If you have a phenomenal example of a mitigation project send it our way, and let’s see how high the bar can go in 2014.  Who knows, next year there may be a project that equals the weight of every second grader in the U.S.

Lucian Deaton2093G-800pxls

The Wildland Fire Operations Division is pleased to announce that Lucian Deaton has joined their team as senior project manager. Based at the NFPA field office in Denver, Colorado, Deaton will will be the manager of the public outreach efforts of the Division, including the Firewise Communities and Fire Adapted Communities programs.

NFPA’s Wildland Fire Operations Division works with organizations across the country and around the globe to raise awareness of wildfire and what residents can do to help prevent loss of lives and property in their community.

Before coming to NFPA, Deaton served as the wildland fire program manager for the International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC), responsible for the development and implementation of the National Ready, Set, Go! (RSG) program in collaboration with the USDA Forest Service and various partners. Previously, he worked in government relations at both IAFC and the National Association of Police Organizations. 

We are excited to have him join the NFPA family, congratulations Lucian!

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Members of the tribal fire mitigation crew and the Redwood Valley Rancheria Community. Tribal Administrator Zhao Qui on right

NFPA's Firewise Communities program is so pleased to confer Firewise Communities/USA recognition on Redwood Valley Rancheria, the first tribal community in California to earn this honor.

The small community is located in Northern California, and is the home of the the Redwood Valley Rancheria band of Pomo Indians.  The Redwood Valley Rancheria is comprised of two separate sections of land in Redwood Valley, Mendocino County, CA.  The old Rancheria consists of about 8 acres in separate parcels located in the middle of Redwood Valley (elevation 800 ft.) adjacent to the Russian River.  This area consists of 1-5 acre residential parcels and older to new houses. The main Rancheria is located two miles east at the end of Road I.  This property consists of 10 acres flat to rolling hills where the 31-house tribal community is located, and 160 acres of steep oak woodland with some chaparral and grass to the east.  The elevation rises from 900 feet to 2300 feet in the new Rancheria.  

Both properties are vulnerable to wildfire: the old Rancheria mainly from human activities and the new Rancheria from wildfires mainly caused by lightning strikes spreading from the community up the ridge or from adjacent land across or down from the steep slopes. 


NFPA had the opportunity to reach out to&#0160;tribal members from California and the Southwest Region at the Bureau of Indian Affairs &#0160;main office at a workshop early in 2013 that was organized by Soledad Holguin and Jim Nanamkin. &#0160;I participated at Soledad&#39;s and Jim&#39;s invitation along with NFPA&#39;s Hylton Haynes. We shared information about Firewise Communities and Fire Adapted Communities at the workshop.&#0160; Zhao Qui, Tribal Administrator for Redwood Valley Rancheria, attended and followed up with me for assistance. On my visit to the Tribe in June 2013, I learned about the fuels project the community was working on as well as fielded questions about the Firewise Community Assessment process. &#0160;Along&#0160;with all the members of the local&#0160;Fire&#0160;Prevention team, we completed a morning tour of the community, took pictures to complete a final assessment report and looked at home ignition zones along with their crew&#0160;boss, a retired US Forest Service Fire Officer. &#0160;Zhao Qui and I later completed the tour of the community and observed the community’s current fuels mitigation project to provide 100 feet defensible space.&#0160; Included in the fuels project area was the tribal grass garden where they grow grasses needed for basket weaving.

!|border=0|src=|alt=PomoBasket|title=PomoBasket|class=asset asset-image at-xid-6a017d3c2930f5970c019b02779e33970b img-responsive!

Pen and ink drawing of Pomo Baskets from the Redwood Valley Rancheria Pomo Nation


The tribe, with the assistance of their administrator Ms. Qui, successfully completed their Firewise Community Application.&#0160; They are now the first tribal Firewise Community in California!&#0160; They are working hard to protect the lives of community members, firefighters, their homes and heritage.&#0160; For more information about how your community can become safer in the event of a wildfire go to the Firewise website or contact your state liaison or regional advisor for assistance.</p>

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The Kohala by the Sea Firewise Community with Hawaii Fire Department Chief, Darren Rosario and Firewise Communities Coordinator for the State of Hawaii, Denise Laitinen. (Photograph courtesy Denise Laitinen)


During a special ceremony on Tuesday, December 3, at 1 p.m., Kohala by the Sea, a homeowners&#0160;association on the Big Island of Hawaii, was presented with a special recognition award for maintaining their Firewise Communities/USA status for 10 years.&#0160; There are only 34 communities nationwide that have been recognized with this prestigious honor in 2013.&#0160;&#0160;Community representatives, the Hawaii Fire Department Chief, Darren Rosario, and Denise Laitinen, the Firewise Communities Coordinator for the State of Hawaii were present to accept the award as well as recognition for their outstanding efforts from legislative representatives.

“The Hawaii Fire Department is proud of the Kohala By The Sea community for achieving national recognition for their efforts to protect their community from the potential devastating effects of wildfires,” said Fire Chief Darren Rosario.

“It’s important for communities to become Firewise for several reasons. The KBTS community and its neighbors were victims of serious fires in the early 1990s. It’s with their effort to be Firewise that I can proudly say as fire chief, it has made a difference.”

The program adapts especially well to small communities, developments, and homeowner associations of all types, says Denise Laitinen, the Firewise Communities Hawaii Coordinator. “The residents of Kohala By The Sea recognized that they live in a high fire hazard area and used a variety of free Firewise resources to reduce their threat to wildfires,” says Laitinen.


Kohala by the Sea had initially achieved national recognition by NFPA&#39; s Firewise Communities/USA program &#0160;in December of 2003 and has renewed their recognition status every year for 10 years.&#0160; They realize the importance of working together with direction from their Fire Department and Denise Laitinen to make improvements to their homes and surrounding landscape.&#0160;


Is your community a Firewise Community and if so have you completed your renewal&#0160;process to maintain that status?&#0160; Working together like Kohala by the Sea year after year allows a community to continue to improve their outcome in the event of a wildfire! To Kohala by the Sea and their partners we say Mahalo (Thank you)!&#0160;

!|src=|alt=|style=margin: 0px; padding: 0px; border: 0px currentColor; width: 80px; display: block; max-width: 100%;!Join the Firewise Challenge and get recognized!


To learn more about this fundamental research please see a recording of a webinar that was put on by the California Fire Science Consortium:"Experimentally Simulating Wind-Driven Firebrand Showers in Wildland-Urban Interface (WUI) Fires," by Sam Manzello of the National Institute of Standards and Technology

!|src=|alt=Waldo Canyon Fire|style=width: 450px;|title=Waldo Canyon Fire|class=asset asset-image at-xid-6a0162ff1d4766970d019b01133697970c!

An aerial view of some of the destruction caused by the Waldo Canyon Fire in Colorado. The fire was the costliest of 2012, resulting in $453.7 million in property damage. (Photo: AP/Wide World)

Catastrophic wildfires in Colorado and a naval submarine fire were some of the costliest incidents in 2012 that resulted in more than $1.2 billion of direct property damage.


NFPA Journal highlights the details of these and other fires in the latest issue. The costliest fire last year, for example, was Colorado's Waldo Canyon Fire, which scorched more than 18,000 acres and burned 346 structures. These figures and incidents were taken from NFPA&#39;s report, "Large-Loss Fires in the United States in 2012."


Learn more about these incidents, including some lessons learned, by reading the report summary in +Journal.+ Looking for a comprehensive list of last year&#39;s large-loss fires? Get it here.</p>

Fire Adapted Communities
NFPA Journal
columnist Molly Mowery hits the "pause button" before 2014 makes its arrival to reflect on the successes of the Fire Adapted Communities (FAC) initiative. Launched by a coalition that includes NFPA, the initiative helps U.S. communities find tools and resources to reduce wildfire risks.

"Budget cuts, record-breaking home losses, and wildland firefighter tragedies can also make it hard to remember positive outcomes we're seeing from our collective actions to mitigate wildland fire," says Mowery in the latest issue of NFPA Journal.

She highlights new resources, successes of the Firewise Communities/USA® program, and the launch of the FAC Learning Network, which targets U.S. communities with the goal of connecting people and resources to become fire-adapted. 

Read about all of the FAC successes in the November/December issue of Journal.

The California Fire Science Consortium hosts Dr. Sam Manzello, a research scientist in the Fire Research Division of the National Institute of Standards & Technology (NIST) for a free webinar tomorrow (Thursday, December 5) on the impacts of wind-driven firebrand showers, which are a major cause of structural ignition in Wildland-Urban Interface (WUI) fires.

To address this problem, a new firebrand research area targeted on quantifying structure vulnerabilities to wind-driven firebrand showers has been developed. This type of firebrand research has never possible prior to the development of the NIST Firebrand Generator, also referred to as the NIST Dragon. The presentation will include a discussion of ongoing workshop activities as well as some challenges for future WUI research.

Register now through the California Fire Science Consortium (click here) for this informative discussion at 11 am (Pacific) on Thursday, December 5.

Mount Laguna, CA Dec 2013
Mount Laguna is a community in San Diego, CA with a population of 57 permanent residents and about 150 part time residents.  The community is located in east San Diego County at an elevation of 6,000'.  The community has been designated a high risk community to wildfires.  This last summer the Chariot Fire consumed about 4,700 acres and burned through part of the community and destroyed the historic Shrine Camp.

The community began the process of becoming a recognized Firewise Community before the 2013 fire and continued the process afterwards.  They hosted a picnic which was attended by 90 people almost 50% of the population of the community.  Chief Clay Howe a BLM representative attended this event  and assisted residents hosting the picnic with a home ignition zone assessment.  The assessment was also helpful for neighboring homeowners who also participated.  The community assessment was completed with the assistance of Jason Kraelig US Forest Service Battalion Chief.  The community is working hard to implement action items that were identified in the assessment.  Because they were already a fire safe council the process of becoming a recognized Firewise Community was much easier.  Is your community Firewise?  It's not too late to get your application submitted by December 31.

The Okmulgee Agency and Eastern Oklahoma Region, Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) recently produced "A Return to Tradition,"  YouTube video which explores the historical use and importance of "good' fire and its importance in the management of local fire adapted ecosystems and fire adapted communities.  The video looks at current BIA vegetation management practices including mechanical and thermal practices like prescribed burning and revisits Firewise Principles and the importance of a disaster plan.


If you're like me, you're probably still wondering how we celebrated Thanksgiving and then dove straight into "holiday shopping" mode this past weeked! But alas, here we are ... the second day of December! I've got a lot to do to prepare and as a potential Firewise community, so do you! So, as part of your holiday "to do" list this season, amidst the baking and the wrapping, the parties and the shopping, don't forget to check one very important item off your list:  "Renew Firewise Community Recognition Status!"

ListAfter a year of working on wildfire mitigation projects around your home and neighborhood, hosting your Firewise Day, putting in countless volunteer hours and talking up wildfire safety to everyone you meet, don't let the hustle and bustle of this holiday season prevent you from filling out your Firewise renewal form and getting that recognition you and your neighbors so deserve.

The deadline to renew your recognition status (by sending in your application) is Tuesday, December 31! Don't know how? We've made the process even easier with our updated online renewal system so there's no excuse; flex those fingers and get typing! Maybe you're old school and still like the feel of a pen and paper. Don't worry, we've got you covered. Our Firewise communities recognition page has all of the information you need, including a downloadable application that you can fill out and return by mail (or sleigh if you give Santa enough notice!). 

As the year comes to a close, we look forward to celebrating our wildfire safety successes with all of our Firewise communities so please, don't wait. Get your paperwork in and join the Firewise family! You and your neighbors will be glad you did!

!|src=|alt=Breezy Point fire|style=width: 450px;|title=Breezy Point fire|class=asset asset-image at-xid-6a0162ff1d4766970d019b0148958b970c!

In 2012, coastal flooding caused by Superstorm Sandy was blamed for a fire in the Breezy Point neighborhood in Queens, New York, that destroyed nearly 130 homes and damaged 50 others. (Photo: AP/Wide World)

Despite all of the proactive steps humans have taken to prepare for the worst, we are still "remarkably unprepared" for a cataclysmic natural event.


This warning comes from geologist Susan Kieffer, whose new book, The Dynamics of Disaster, makes a strong case for an all-hands-on-deck approach to disaster preparedness. That&#39;s where the codes and standards community may come into play, says Kieffer in the latest edition of +NFPA Journal.+

"I see the setting of standards as being very much along the lines of preparation for hazards," she says. "The more preparation we can do, the more we're going to minimize the impact these disasters have on us, and the less remediation we'll have to do."


Kieffer exemplifies her points by highlighting some of Earth&#39;s most recent natural disasters, including the Icelandic volcano eruptions in 2010 and Italy&#39;s L&#39;Aquila earthquake in 2009. Read the entire Q&amp;A in the November/December issue of +Journal.+</p>

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