Skip navigation
All Places > Fire Break > Blog > 2014 > February

In follow up to my colleague – Michele Steinberg’s recent blog “Crazy numbers? Wildfire reporting isn’t as easy as it might seem” a remarkable piece of research addressing this matter has recently been published.

Dr. Karen Short a research ecologist with the US Forest Service Rocky Mountain Research Station – Fire Sciences Lab in Missoula Montana recently published a very informative research paper titled: A spatial database of wildfires in the United States, 1992 – 2011.  This paper is an incredibly valuable piece of research in that is describes in detail the level of complexity (1.6 million records from multiple fire occurrence reporting systems) that the researcher had to contend with in developing this Fire Program Analysis Fire Occurrence Dataset for the period 1992-2011.  A second edition that includes the 2012 dataset is scheduled for publication sometime this year.  The core data elements identified for this project where location, discovery date and final acre size.  According to Dr. Short, 82% of the National Fire Incident Reporting System (NFIRS) (for the year 2010) lacked the location data criteria to be included in this spatial database of wildfires.  NFPA and other federal partners are actively engaged in trying to overcome this fundamental limitation of the NFIRS data.

Locations of wildfires1992-2011

Image 1: Locations of wildfire records per year (excluding Alaska and Hawaii) (Short, 2014)

The interesting thing about this is how pervasive the wildfire exposure is becoming as we move from 1992 to 2011.  It will be interesting to see what influence the NFIRS data records could have in the future.

This data is available on the US Forest service Research Data Archive web page.   This data is available in Microsoft Access and ESRI file geodatabase formats. 

2013 pilot photos for blog - Feb 27 2014
What’s on your calendar today?  If you were unable to join this week’s live Wildfire Community Preparedness Day webinar broadcast on February 25, you have another opportunity to catch all the information via the recorded version.  During the live broadcast more than ninety participants learned about the wide range of successes from the 2013 pilot, and heard what the Texas A & M Forest Service has planned for this year’s inaugural campaign.

Join your neighbors and colleagues and make an invaluable contribution to wildfire preparedness on May 3, 2014 - apply for a $500 neighborhood project funding award to implement a project that reduces the risk of wildfire, the impact(s) of a recent wildfire, or advances preparedness efforts at the local level.  Project funding generously provided by State Farm Insurance.  Visit the website to apply and while you're there check out the promotional resources.

We recently told you about the kick off of a contest to help determine the winners of twenty State Farm $500 monetary awards. Individuals or groups are being asked to submit Wildfire Community Preparedness Day project ideas, and the winners will be able to use the money to help them carry out those ideas.

Well, we already have more than 20 entries! There is still plenty of time to submit if you are considering doing so - the deadline is March 19th.

In the meantime, please be sure to visit the contest widget on our Wildfire Community Preparedness Day webpage, or through the Firewise Facebook page, and vote for your favorite submission. Winners will be selected based on assessment of eligibility, voting and project description, after March 19th.   


Annie Schmidt, Director of the Chumstick Wildfire Stewardship Coalition [one of the eight Fire  Adapted Learning Network pilot sites] recently created this interactive which represents "growing" a fire adapted community from core concepts. Enjoy!


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

  • Find out the winners of the 2013 Firewise Challenge.  
  • Get the details on our Preparedness Day webinar that will explain how you can start your own neighborhood wildfire risk reduction project.
  • Discover how a group of kids concerned with wildfire safety produced a Firewise video that was entered in the First Lego League competition.
  • Learn about NFPA’s online “Firewise Toast” in March.

… And lots more! We want to continue to share all of this great information with you so don’t miss an issue! So subscribe today. It’s free! Just click here to add your e-mail address to our newsletter list.

Demonstrate your commitment to wildfire preparedness by adding your May 3 project to the nationwide event map.  It’s easy to do and in less than two minutes you’ll be able to proudly share your community’s project.  Join others throughout the nation making their communities a safer place!


Image 1: Locations of all the Fire Adapted Communities Learning Network Pilot Sites; Ready, Set, Go! Members and recognized Firewise Communities/USA® sites throughout the United States.

Logo with both the year and Trademark TM - Dave Yount Feb 3 2014

As the buzz grows about the first national Wildfire Community Preparedness Day, I can easily envision the creative wheels busily turning at fire departments, forestry agencies and Firewise Communities everywhere, as they start planning inspiring activities for their May 3, 2014 events.

We constantly learn about innovative ideas being implemented to engage residents in reducing their wildfire risk, and I’m positive we’ll be awed this spring when success stories are told and retold about community accomplishments, and the resulting social capital.    

Join NFPA’s Wildland Fire Operations Division and guests from the 2013 pilot event in Colorado, as we share highlights of the sixteen projects accomplished last year by more than 600 volunteers; and hear what the Texas A & M Forest Service has planned in their state for their inaugural campaign.  Discover how your community can apply for a $500 neighborhood project funding award to implement a project that reduces the risk of wildfire, the impact(s) of a recent wildfire, or advances preparedness efforts at the local level.  

Invest 45 minutes on Tuesday, February 25 at 10am MST and discover what can be achieved on May 3 in your community!  Here’s the adobeconnect link, add it to your calendar now, and join others throughout the nation making their communities a safer place.  Visit for more information.

Wildfire Prep Day 2014As part of the NFPA and State Farm partnership, a campaign focusing on wildfire education will become the first nationwide Wildfire Community Preparedness Day, slated to take place May 3, 2014. 

In an effort to assist with our Preparedness Day outreach and promotional efforts, State Farm will be providing monetary awards of $500 to 20 individual projects that will be undertaken during the May 3 event! To determine which community projects will receive the awards, a contest kicks off today. 

To enter, visit the NFPA/State Farm Wildfire Preparedness Day Neighborhood Project Award Promotion contest app powered by SnapApp through either:

From either location, you may post your neighborhood’s planned activity (or activities). Include your name and potential participants, your contact information, city and state, and how you will use the project funding. The deadline to post your project idea is March, 19, 2014.

Then, recruit votes! Encourage your friends, family, colleagues and neighbors to vote for your project idea through the contest app on the website or NFPA’s Firewise Facebook page. The deadline to vote for your favorite project is March 19, 2014.

Votes will be considered in NFPA’s final determination of the winning project ideas. 

For more information about the National Wildfire Preparedness Day and offcial contest rules, please visit

It’s hard to believe that when our Firewise Challenge was launched back in January 2013 we’d receive such an overwhelming response. But here we are, one year later, with more than 1,000 communities on board, announcing the winners and beaming with pride!

The winners of the 1,000 Safer Places:  The Firewise Communities/USA Recognition Program Challenge are … (Drum roll please!): Blog

Grand Prize Winners:

* Norphlet, Arkansas

* Orleans, Humboldt County, California

* Horizons at Barnegat, Ocean County, New Jersey

* Hemlock Farms, Lords Valley, Pennsylvania

* Forest Ridge, Wenatchee, Washington

Runners Up:

* Fern Creek, Creede, Colorado

* Sprucewold Community of Boothbay Harbor, Maine

* Rogue Valley Fire Prevention Cooperative, Ashland/Grants Pass, Oregon

* Cumberland Cove, Crossville, Tennessee

* River Ridge on the Shenandoah, Front Royal, Virginia 

NFPA salutes all of the states and communities that participated in the Challenge
and worked on mitigation projects all throughout 2013. Whether your community is new to Firewise or you’ve renewed your recognition status, by participating in the Firewise Communities/USA® Recognition Program, you have made neighborhoods all across the U.S. safer from wildfire. Thank you!

We also must give a HUGE shout out to our friends at State Farm®, the largest home insurer in the United States, who have so generously provided funding to the winning communities so that they may continue to work on mitigation projects well into 2014. Thanks to State Farm, the five top communities are receiving a grand prize of $5,000 each to be used for mitigation activities, including chipping of brush, removal of vegetative material, and similar activities that will reduce wildfire hazards. The five runners-up will receive a prize of $900 to use on safety gear, tools or mitigation projects.  Red_SF_logo_horz_small_CMYK_3207

State Farm, with its long history of proactive wildfire safety education to its policyholders in high-risk regions, has been a longtime supporter of Firewise concepts. NFPA is proud to partner with State Farm on this important campaign!  

And don’t forget, all of our recognized Firewise communities are part of the Firewise family now and NFPA wants to celebrate this success with you. Join us online Saturday, March 1 for “A Salute to the National Firewise Family” Facebook event. Check out the website for details on how to join! We look forwarding to “seeing you”!

Congratulations, Firewise Challenge winners and to all of our Firewise communities! Let's keep up this great work and hit wildfires out of the park for good!

Red_SF_logo_horz_small_CMYK_3207With the Firewise Challenge completed and Preparedness Day around the corner, NFPA is really excited
to announce that State Farm®, a leading provider of home insurance in the U.S., is generously providing monetary support for both campaigns. State Farm has a long history of proactive wildfire safety education to its policyholders in high-risk regions, including the use of Firewise materials and concepts. NFPA and the Wildland Fire Operations Division is incredibly pleased to partner with State Farm on these important campaigns! 

ButtonAs you know, the Firewise Challenge is a campaign that began in 2013 as a way to encourage increased neighborhood participation in the national Firewise Communities/USA Recognition Program. Communities in the five states with the most participation will receive $5,000 each provided by the State Farm grant to implement safety projects including chipping of brush, removal of vegetative material and similar activities that will reduce wildfire hazards. Five additional communities will receive a runner-up prize of $900 to use on safety gear, tools or mitigation projects.

Visit the Firewise Challenge webpage to learn who the winners are! 

ServiceDay-Logo-NEW_TMThe second major campaign focusing on wildfire education is the first nationwide Wildfire Community Preparedness Day slated to take place on May 3, 2014. The national Preparedness Day gives people of all ages a chance to participate in a risk reduction or wildfire preparedness activity that makes their community a safer place to live.  A portion of the State Farm grant funding will be awarded to 20 neighborhood wildfire safety projects being implemented during the May 3rd event.

Information about Preparedness Day and how you can get involved can be found at

Read the entire press release about State Farm’s generous support of NFPA's wildfire campaigns and join us as we strive to hit all wildfire disasters out of the park!

Dr. Christine Eriksen of the Australian Centre for Cultural Environmental Research at the University of Wollongong, Australia, has posted links to free access to several of her recent research papers on wildfire and social science, including "Wildfire preparedness, community coheshion and social-ecological systems," co-authored with Tim Prior of the Center for Security Studies in Switzerland. Free downloads are available through March 26.

Advocates of Firewise and Fire Adapted Communities concepts and programs should take a look at this paper for its findings regarding the value of social cohesion within communities as it affects wildfire preparedness. The authors conclude that

" cohesion increases people's propensity to undertake protective actions in the context of wildfire in two ways: (1) it gives people the support and resources necessary to confront wildfire risk; and (2) it increases the salience of wildfire threat."

The paper provides some important clues for those working to initiate wildfire safety programs in communities, and emphasizes the importances of taking complex social interplay among community members and between local communities and their civil structures into account to improve success.  In places that have a "sense of community," where community members are able to come together to solve problems, there the authors find a key component of wildfire preparedness and resilience.

For more of Dr. Eriksen's work, including a book on gender and wildfire, and another paper with Tim Prior on mental preparedness for wildfire, check her LinkedIn profile or follow her posts on the Linked In Wildland Fire Management subgroup of NFPA.

A tip of our blogger hats goes to Bill Gabbert and Wildfire Today for alerting us to a newly announced set of projects sponsored by the USDA Forest Service and the National Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) that will help restore forest health, improve water quality, and mitigate against fire damage. 

In his recent blog post, Gabbert documents the February 7 announcement of the project, called the Chiefs' Joint Landscape Restoration Partnership, part of the Obama Administration’s Climate Action Plan to responsibly cut carbon pollution, slow the effects of climate change and put America on track to a cleaner environment. The partnership will invest $30 million in 13 projects across the country this year to help mitigate wildfire threats to communities and landowners, protect water quality, and supply and improve wildlife habitat for at-risk species.

See the NRCS website for more details on the project, which will certainly go far to boost the concept of fire adapted communities in forested areas around the nation.

In an interview for the January/February 2014 issue of NFPA Journal, NFPA President Jim Shannon talks openly about the impact wildfire is having on our nation's wildland/urban interface and the challenges we will continue to face here and around the world.

Read President Shannon's entire "First Word" column and learn about NFPA's role in wildfire safety, preparedness and mitigation. An accompanying video is below. 


When one thinks of Israel, one typically thinks of a small country with desert landscapes, however each year, an average of 1,000 fires occur in Jewish National Fund forests throughout Israel, affecting about 9,000 acres of land.  In Israel, there are 400,560 acres of forestland, making up just over 7% of Israel’s total area.  According to one of my former colleagues Faith Berry [independent fire assessment consultant] who is now working with amongst others some Israeli officials, indicated that they too have a significant wildfire risk problem that impacts rural communities in the same way it impacts us here in the United States.

According to the Ministry of Public Security website developers from the field of meteorology and forest fire behavior have developed an operational technology for predicting the spread of fires called "Matash".

The "Matash" system has two main components: The first is a data component consisting of collected meteorological data, such as temperature, relative humidity, precipitation and wind direction and speed.  It also collects infrastructure data such as topographical conditions, a map of flammable materials, and vegetation moisture content.

The second component of the system is the model of the fire's spreading.  The "Matash" model is a function of the combined data of flammable materials, topography, and wind direction.  The interesting thing about this forecasting system is that it provides the incident commander a real-time and 6 hour predication of future fire spread.  Making technology like this mobile and available to the wildland firefighters may help limit firefighter exposure and result in different outcomes than the one experienced at the Yarnell Hill fire.

The National Fire Protection Association [NFPA] in collaboration with National Institute of Standards and Technology [NIST] is working on a Smart Fire Fighting Workshop where select cyber-physical system [CPS] and firefighting experts are meeting to develop a research roadmap that identifies key opportunities for future research and development in the realm of firefighter safety and situational awareness.




!|src=|alt=CFS_badge|style=margin: 0px 0px 5px 5px;|title=CFS_badge|class=asset asset-image at-xid-6a00d8351b9f3453ef01a73d710ce6970d img-responsive!Jonathan Bruno of the[ Coalition of the Upper South Platte  |][one of the eightFire Adapted Learning Network Hubs] shared this newly launched natural resources grants and assistance[ database website  |]developed by the Colorado State Forest Service with me recently.  The nice thing about the database is the use of the search criteria that streamlines the process.  Examples include:

<span style="color: #00bf00; font-size: 12pt; background-color: #ffffff;">Firewise communities</span>


<span style="color: #00bf00; font-size: 12pt; background-color: #ffffff;">Community wildfire protection plan development </span>


<span style="color: #00bf00; font-size: 12pt; background-color: #ffffff;">Hazardous fuels reduction, wildfire mitigation</span>


<span style="color: #00bf00; font-size: 12pt; background-color: #ffffff;">Education, outreach, training</span>


!|src=|alt=|style=margin: 0px; padding: 0px; border: 0px currentColor; width: 80px; display: block; max-width: 100%;!Colorado ready to grant $5.2 million for wildfire risk reduction projects on non-federal lands

Fire Adapted CommunitiesIn her final column for NFPA Journal, Molly Mowery recounts her experience as senior program manager for NFPA's Wildland Fire Operations Division and involvement with the Fire Adapted Communities (FAC) Coalition. Utilizing a series of tools, FAC prepares homes, businesses, neighborhoods, infrastructures, natural areas, and surrounding landscapes for wildfires.

"If we really want to stimulate and accelerate public action, we need to combine education with a process for changing behavior," says Mowery. "This process requires many key ingredients, such as clarifying at the beginning stage what is important to our audience and exploring their values; developing practices instead of checklists; and leaving more time for implementation rather than getting stuck in the planning phase."

Read all of Mowery's final thoughts in the January/February issue of Journal.

Planning on attending the IAFC 2014 Wildland-Urban Interface Conference in Reno, Nevada? Then you don't want to miss NFPA's pre-conference education session, “Assessing Wildland Fire Hazards in the Home Ignition Zone Workshop.”

This two-day workshop, led by Pat Durland, Stone Creek Fire, LLC, provides a basic understanding of fire behavior and structure ignition from wildfires and increases your understanding of WUI fire mitigation. The workshop also provides a solid understanding of safety measures and standards specifically focusing on NFPA 1144 and NFPA 1141.

Dates are Sunday, March 16 and Monday, March 17, 2014.

Don't miss out! Register now online. Learn more about NFPA’s HIZ workshops and hear what Pat has to say about the workshop in our latest video.


While investigating social media use during emergencies for my NFPA Journal feature, "#AreYouPrepared?," my research kept pointing me to zombies. Yes, zombies--those ghoulish creatures that refuse to rest in peace and have successfully invaded all forms of popular culture in recent years. They've also managed to grab the attention of social media users.

Let me explain: the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) launched a social media campaign in 2011 promoting emergency preparedness tactics helpful during a zombie takeover and other disasters. (NFPA has developed similar tips for emergencies.) Their philosophy was if you were prepared for the "dawn of the dead" (stellar zombie flick, by the way), you were prepared for tornadoes, fires, and other events. The CDC disseminated these tools and tips via its social media channels. What was the response? Check out the following video where I give an overview of the campaign:



For a recent example of social media's effectiveness, check out a recent Atlanta-Journal Constitution article on its use during the recent snow storm that sidelined Atlanta.

I highly recommend any WUI professional or homeowner to review this interesting research paper.  This thought provoking research paper presents a pathway to 'effective and efficient' action and breaks down the wildfire paradox versus perpetuating it. This research paper is extremely helpful in defining a decision-making process that is specific and outcome focused.

According to the authors “If our problem statement is defined a keeping wildfires out of the WUI, it is unobtainable, and large wildfires and residential disasters will continue, and likely increase.  Fuel treatments do not stop fires (just change behavior), and treatment alone without Home Ignition Zone [HIZ] treatment means that the inevitable wildfire exposure will result in structure loss……..By contrast, if the problem is identified as a home ignition, mitigation of the HIZ is the most cost-effective investment for reducing home destruction, and this can be augmented with other investments.” (Calkin etal, 2013 p 5-6).


Figure 1: Conceptual model highlighting the major fundamental objectives (level 1), means-based objectives (levels 2 & 3), and action for reducing the risk of home loss as a result of wildfire (Calkin et al, 2013).

Filter Blog

By date: By tag: