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Firefighter Michael R. Kennedy (left) and Lieutenant Edward J. Walsh (right) were killed in Boston on Wednesday. Photo:

Two firefighters who died in a Boston townhouse blaze on Wednesday are being hailed as heroes. Lieutenant Edward J. Walsh and Firefighter Michael R. Kennedy were among the crews fighting a fire in a four-story townhouse in Boston's Back Bay neighborhood.

“In 30 years I’ve never seen a fire travel that fast, escalate that quickly, and create such havoc in such a short period of time,” Boston Deputy Chief Joseph Finn tells The Boston Herald. “The wind was blowing in off the Charles (River), it drove the fire and combustibles and everything with it to the front of the building where two members of Engine 33 were assigned trying to make headway on the fire.”


Related: NFPA's "Firefighter Fatalities in the United States" report.

[The Boston Herald |] reports that the firefighters issued a mayday call just minutes after they rushed into the building's basement. Deputy Chief Finn said he believes a window in the front of the building shattered and the wind pushed the fire toward them.

In 1972, Boston experienced its worst firefighter loss just a few blocks from yesterday's fatal blaze. The Hotel Vendome fire killed nine Boston firefighters; a memorial near the site of that fire commemorates the loss.


Fire departments around the country have eagerly awaited the most recent update to the Fire Suppression Rating Schedule (FSRS) developed by the Insurance Services Office. This system classifies communities according to performance in emergency communications, fire response and suppression and water supply, and has provided these ratings to insurers for more than 30 years. Insurance companies purchasing this data use it to develop underwriting practices – so improved ratings can lead to lower insurance premiums for homes and businesses in many instances.

What’s new with this long-awaited revision? First, ISO is referencing many more NFPA codes and standards than in the past. This means that as the NFPA documents are revised, the rating schedule will be revised – a great way to ensure that the ratings keep up with new technology and changing practices. Communities all over the US will also be happy to learn that for the first time, they can earn “extra credit” – up to 5.5 points – for demonstrating fire prevention, education and investigation programs. In other words, the ratings – and thus many insurance companies – will begin to account for fire mitigation programs in a quantifiable and creditable way.

NFPA has developed a resource list of all the codes and standards referenced in ISO’s rating schedule, along with a wealth of resources for fire departments and communities to consider when updating or initiating fire prevention and education programs. Check for a list with links to each standard and much more on Firewise®, Learn Not to Burn®, Remembering When® and other fire prevention tools that might give your community a leg up on improving its fire safety ratings.

Mike BeebeLast week, Arkansas Governor Mike Beebe used his weekly column and radio address to discuss the statewide emphasis on NFPA's Firewise program. The timing on his address is ideal as the wildfire activity in Arkansas is already surging this year. Additionally, because of unusually low humidity levels, there will continue to be a higher risk for these unpredictable and dangerous blazes.

Beebe does point out that fortunately, Arkansas communities and local fire departments work hard to mitigate and prevent wildfires year round. In 2013, Arkansas was actually the number one Firewise state in the country, having more communities than any other. While he is proud of this distinction and all of the the effort to this point, he reminds all that "our vigilance must continue to increase for the upcoming fire season."

Beebe goes on to discuss how communities can get involved with the state's Firewise program if they are not already, and why doing so will be beneficial both to homeowners, their neighbors, and the firefighters working to protect them all. Take a look at Beebe's full column for all of his remarks, and be sure to take his advice! 

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

  • Get an overview of the 2013 wildfire season
  • Find out what kinds of mulch work best in high-risk wildfire areas
  • Learn about the insurer’s perspective and how homeowner loss mitigation actions actually matter when it comes to recovering from the impact of a wildfire
  • Get the “skinny” on the WFOD’s latest project:  the 2015 Firewise calendar contest, which will feature artwork submitted by youth
  • Find additional resources and activity ideas for the National Wildfire Community Preparedness Day event

… 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.

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Currently there are 13 out of the a possible 84 project sites listed on this map. Show your community pride - share your project and get your project on the map.

DeatonLucian Deaton, the newest member of the NFPA Wildland Fire Operations Division, wrote his debut NFPA Journal column for the current issue, titled "Local Intel." In this column, Lucian discusses a great tactic for crafting effective wildfire preparedness messages: listening. 

He says that public educators can do one of two things - project what they see as ideal onto new places they visit, or enrich their perception by listening and learning what people in each new place considers ideal. He goes on to describe the development of the Ready, Set, Go! program that he worked on as an employee with IAFC. He developed a national model of a successful program, that all departments, regardless of size or type, could implement by visiting all 50 states and learning what wildfire risk meant to each state's residents.

Read more about Lucian's experience and advice, and why he feels that residential responsibility is essential to successful wildfire mitigation and preparedness in this month's Wildfire Watch column.  

Are you an artist between the ages of 6 - 18 or know someone who is? If so, then you don't want to miss out on NFPA's Firewise calendar contest. Enter your "hottest" artwork on the theme of "Wildfire Preparedness:  Living Compatibly with Nature" for publication in our 2015 Firewise calendar, and have an opportunity to win an Amazon gift card!

The contest begins March 19. Deadline for submissions is June 2, 2014. Calendar 4

Here's what you need to do to be a part of the contest:

  • With your parent or guardian, read the Contest Rules and download the Entry Form
  • Create a drawing showing a wildfire or an activity, event or project that highlights wildland fire safety or something that helps keep wildland firefighters safer.
  • An entry must be either the original drawing on a 12” x 18” white poster board or sturdy construction paper, mailed flat and labeled on the back with the Participant’s first name and last initial.
  • Don’t like to draw? Create an original artwork on the wildfire theme and take a really good photograph of it. The photograph of the original drawing or other original artwork should be in .jpeg or .tif format of at least 300 dpi and at least 1 megabyte in size in portrait or landscape format. Put the photograph on a CD labeled with the Participant’s first name and last initial. 
  • Fill out the Entry Form and follow the Contest Rules to send your drawing or photograph to the folks at the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) so they receive it by June 2, 2014.
  • Find out who won a spot in the calendar and a $25 Amazon® gift card by checking on aound June 13, 2014. And of course, NFPA will tell you if you are a winner!

Read the complete rules for the contest.

Start today! We can't wait to see all of the great work you do!

If you haven’t heard, as part of this year's America's PrepareAthon, FEMA is kicking off its first National Day of Action on April 30, 2014. The year-long PrepareAthon campaign provides an important opportunity for individuals, organizations and communities to prepare for specific hazards including tornadoes, floods, hurricanes and wildfire. Through drills, group discussions and exercises, residents can increase emergency preparedness awareness in their communities, and encourage their neighbors to make preparedness part of their daily lives.

This preparedness concept is of course, near and dear to our hearts at NFPA. As you have heard, we will be launching our first national Wildfire Community Preparedness Day on May 3. And while at first glance, this may seem a little confusing, having both events launch so close together, and you may think, hmmm, my community couldn’t possibly do both, well, we think both the PrepareAthon/Day of Action and Wildfire Community Preparedness Day form the most perfect union. Heart

Consider this:

Are you participating in the Wildfire Community Preparedness Day campaign on May 3? Or maybe you have planned an activity for April 30,, the Day of Action? Well, there may just be a way to participate in both!

Here’s what I mean … does your Wildfire Community Preparedness Day activity call for two stages? Consider doing Phase 1 on April 30 and Phase 2 on May 3. Or maybe you use April 30 as a day to organize – getting together all of your supplies, signage, etc. ready for May 3. Perhaps you target April 30 as the day you blanket your community with flyers, send messages through social media or create discussion forums online with like-minded community members about wildfire safety and risk reduction activities happening in your neighborhood. No matter how you slice it, there’s never only one day to prepare – reducing our wildfire risk requires everyone’s involvement many times a year.

Take a moment to learn more about FEMA’s Day of Action and their year-long PrepareAthon campaign. And don’t forget, the deadline to submit your project to the NFPA/State Farm Preparedness Day project contest is Wednesday, March 19.

As always, we want to hear from you! Tell us how the planning is going and share with our wildfire community the work you plan to do on April 30 and May 3!

The Technical Committee on Forest and Rural Fire Protection (FRU-AAA) submitted a request to the NFPA Standards Council at its October 2013 meeting to reorganize into two new technical committees with more well-defined scopes.  The proposed committees would separate the current document workload, increase the number of wildland fire protection experts involved, and increase the capacity for the committees to take on new projects.  The NFPA Standards Council approved the proposed reorganization of FRU-AAA at its quarterly meeting just this past week in San Juan, PR.  NFPA is currently seeking members to develop balanced rosters for the two new committees.  The application deadline for the development of the new committee rosters is May 12, 2014.  These rosters will be submitted for approval at the August 2014 meeting of the NFPA Standards Council.  Please take a look at the details below, and submit an application online to the committee, or committees, of your expertise. 

The Technical Committee titles below contain links where applications can be submitted online.  The approved reorganization of FRU-AAA will result in the following new committees and corresponding document assignments:


Technical Committee on Wildland and Rural Fire Protection

Scope:  This committee shall have the primary responsibility for documents on fire protection in wildland, rural, and suburban areas.


• NFPA 1141, Standard for Fire Protection Infrastructure for Land Development in Wildland, Rural, and Suburban Areas

• NFPA 1142, Standard for Water Supplies for Suburban and Rural Firefighting

• NFPA 1144, Standard for Reducing Structure Ignition Hazards from Wildland Fire


Technical Committee on Wildland Fire Management

Scope:  This committee shall have the primary responsibility for documents on wildland fire management.


• NFPA 1143, Standard for Wildland Fire Management

• NFPA 1145, Guide for the Use of Class A Foams in Manual Structural Fire Fighting

-Ryan Depew

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As wildfire risk to people and property continues to be a growing international problem, the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) and the International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC) formalized a relationship with the United Kingdom’s Chief Fire Officers Association (CFOA) to help increase public awareness of wildfire risk throughout the UK.

The Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) signed by the three organizations provides an opportunity for collaboration on WUI education and risk management programs both in the U.S. and abroad. CFOA will specifically look at NFPA's Firewise Communities and IAFC's Ready, Set, Go! programs with an eye towards the potential adoption of a similar approach in the UK and Europe. 

The announcement will be highlighted at IAFC's WUI 2014 conference in Reno, Nevada, March 17 - 19. IAFCAlan Clark, Area Commander for the Surrey Fire and Rescue Service, West Command, will make the journey across the Atlantic to attend, joining NFPA, IAFC and other wildfire organizations to share research, best practices and important lessons concerning the creation of more fire adapted communities worldwide. According to Alan, the West of Surrey is an area of high fire risk in the County. 

Read the full press release for details of the agreement. 

As NFPA's president, Jim Shannon, has stated recently, wildland fire is not just an American problem but an international one. NFPA is excited about the opportunity to work with these two great organizations on a common goal - one of reducing losses associated with wildfire.

Learn more about NFPA's international role in wildfire safety on our "wildfire around the world page" on NFPA's website. NFPA

"Among the things I (have) learned is that the best way to hear how residents connect with preparedness messages is to sit down with them at a local diner and listen," says Lucian Deaton, in his first Wildfire Watch column since joining NFPA in November 2013.  Lucian

According to Lucian, when we ask, residents will often share with us why they live in their community, what their environment and community mean to them, and how they want to play a part in the wildland fire solution. Food for thought for all of us who continually work on crafting wildfire safety messages and provide education, training and resources for residents across the country.

Read more about Lucian's experiences in the March/April 2014 issue of NFPA Journal and discover how, by simply talking with our neighbors, we can learn even more about the value of listening and the role it plays in creating safer communities for all.

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In California, ranchers are selling their cattle, which are unable to graze off scorched pasturelands. Dried-up waterways are unearthing artifacts, including the ruins of a ghost town near Sacramento. Elsewhere, the Gold Rush is back on, with rivers running at such low levels that valuable nuggets are being revealed as the water recedes.

In the March/April 2014 issue of NFPA's Journal magazine, author Fred Durso examines how California's drought emergency could exacerbate the state's upcoming wildfire season, and the role Firewise is playing in helping communities reduce their risk.

Read "Water Woes" now available online, to learn how California is dealing with this issue. 

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The residents of Snug Harbor, Wisconsin promote a big spring clean-up event in their subdivision every year to encourage residents to reduce hazardous fuels on their private properties. Snug Harbor has been a recognized Firewise Community since 2011.

On Saturday, March 1, residents living in recognized Firewise communities were invited to raise a glass in honor of their hard work and dedication to wildfire safety! Thanks to all of you who joined in the celebration including those from Wisconsin and Arkansas! See all the photos on our Firewise Facebook page ... and remember ... it&#39;s never too late to submit your own photos displaying your Firewise pride!</p>

As you plan your project for national Wildfire Community Preparedness Day on Saturday, May 3, NFPA has created a number of resources for you to use for your outreach and promotion activities. 

Prep Day
Flyers, a postcard, web and email banners are just a few things to help you get started. We've even created a customized flyer that gives participants a chance to enter their own event information. Download the flyer, fill in your project information details and send it to your community volunteers today! Recognized Firewise communities can also use a customized flyer for their Firewise Day event activities.

Looking to print more than a handful? We've created versions of the flyers that you can give to a local printer! All of these resources and more are available on our Preparedness Day webpage

And don't forget, there's still time to enter your project into our contest. Winners will receive funding, courtesy of State Farm, to pay for their mitigation activities on May 3. Enter now to be eligible to win! The deadline is March 19. Then once you've entered the contest, share your project with us! Skip on over to our nationwide event map and enter your project

With over 40 projects already in the works, this year's Preparedness Day is shaping up to be a real winner! And it's all because of the dedication of communities like yours! If you've thought about joining us on May 3 but don't know what projects you and your neighborhood could work on, check out our project idea list that will surely get your creative juices flowing! Then keep us posted on your progress! We want to hear from you. We'll see you on the 3rd! 

  Disaster Distress Helpline Snippet - March 2014Last week following the Wildfire Community Preparedness Day live webinar, one of our virtual attendees reached out to share a fairly new and little known resource that’s available to every wildland/urban interface resident and community, and also to first responders and recovery personnel following a wildfire.  

Within a few minutes of talking with Joe Samalin, the Outreach Manager for the Disaster Distress Helpline, I knew their free services would be a valuable tool for many.  The Disaster Distress Helpline’s goal is to provide toll-free multilingual crisis counseling and support to individuals in distress from natural and man-made disasters and help them move forward on the path of recovery.  Helpline and text services are available year-round, 24-hours a day, 7-days a week and are staffed by trained crisis counselors.

You’ll find their website has a plethora of information that we often hear people needing and wanting following a wildfire.  A quick visit to the site and you’ll want to add the information to your toolkits and website. Services are federally funded and administered by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

Photo - Woodland Park event - March 1 2014Photo Credit:  Scott Lord

This past Saturday, a standing room only crowd of more than 170 wildland/urban interface residents participated in a Wildfire Preparedness Event at the Ute Pass Cultural Center in Woodland Park, CO.  A riveting presentation by Linda Masterson, researcher and author of Surviving Wildfire: Get Prepared, Stay Alive, Rebuild Your Life (A Handbook for Homeowners), was an eye-opener for many; as she vividly shared her personal account of what her and her husband Cory experienced when they lost their home to a 2011 wildfire.  Linda's testimonial is extremely motivating and is continually an inspiration in getting residents to undertake preparedness/mitigation actions.

Multiple wildland agencies and firefighters interacted with participants and provided their knowledge and important strategies on how-to mitigate wildfire risk.  The valuable information and expertise delivered at the event was a call to action for a community work day on May 3, the first national Wildfire Community Preparedness Day

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