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2014

Natgeo
A recent article published on National Geographic’s “Daily News” webpage confirms what many of us in the wildfire industry have known to be true: it’s the small steps that can help save homes and communities from being destroyed by wildfire.

Author Warren Cornwall explains how homeowners fit nicely into this equation, and how they can and should take responsibility for mitigating their own property. Easy steps, he says, like putting screens over attic vents, trimming trees and getting rid of pine needles in gutters, are known to make a real difference in whether a home survives a wildfire. These steps, he writes, are backed by 10 years of research conducted by scientists who make it their mission to learn about and identify the factors that contribute to home losses in a wildfire, and what we can do to reduce that loss. It’s also the backbone of NFPA’s Firewise Communities Program.

NFPA’s Michele Steinberg, Insurance Institute for Business and Home Safety (IBHS) senior scientist Steve Quarles and Jack Cohen, a Forest Service scientist and leading expert on wildfires and how homes ignite, were all interviewed for the article. The information they provided helps shed light on such things as the properties (and potential dangers) of mulch and wind-born embers (or firebrands), and their impact on homes during a fire, the principles that guide the Firewise program, and ultimately, some of the better ways we can adapt to living with wildfire.   

Another important step the author addresses: talking to your neighbors. According to Joe Sutler, a career firefighter in Bend, Oregon who was also interviewed for the article, his home’s survival depends partly on what his neighbors do. As Cornwall quotes him, “If a single home catches fire, it can fling embers onto nearby houses. In dense developments, the heat of a burning house can ignite the house next door, setting off a chain reaction that overwhelms firefighters.”

Due to this simple but important research fact, the Firewise program has and continues to promote this “neighbors talking to neighbors” piece of the puzzle. Read more on the Firewise website about how you can reach out to your friends and neighbors and start a dialogue about wildfire safety in your area.  

Want to learn more? Just recently (and ironically, the timing couldn’t be better with the release of this NatGeo article), Dr. Quarles participated in an NFPA/IBHS “Ask the Expert” webinar titled, “Understanding How Embers Ignite Roofs in a Wildland Fire and How to Make Your Roof More Survivable.” The webinar is now available on the Firewise “online courses and education” webpage. Llisten to Dr. Quarles talk first-hand about his research and safety recommendations for homeowners. (Quarles will again host an “Ask the Expert” webinar on August 19. The topic:  Mulch Combustibility-Choosing the Right Type for Your Wildland/Urban Interface Home. You won’t want to miss this … Register today.)

In a world where the phrase of the day is, “bigger is better,” it’s comforting to know that yes, the little things really do matter, especially when it comes to our safety. So, give the article a read and let us know what you think. What are you doing to help reduce the risk of wildfire damage to your home? In your community? We know there are lots of great stories out there. Share them with us. We’re always happy to hear from you. And we're always here to help.

The new Guide to Fire Adapted Communities is not just for residents and fire departments.  The issues of fuels management and forest health bring forest & land managers into the fold for a successful Fire Adapted Community as well.  

Chapter 3 in the guide focuses on the surrounding environment and shares a case study out of Texas about a neighbor- helping-neighbor cooperative providing NCTPBA prescribed burn land management FACRG14guidance that property owners need to use prescribed fire on a sustained basis. Another case study in that chapter looks at collaborative forest restoration efforts in Arizona. 

Nick Goulette, Executive Director for the Watershed Research & Training Center, shared with me that, “Wildfires can threaten a wide range of community values.  While life and property can and should garner the greatest focus, natural features such as municipal watersheds, green spaces, and viewsheds are also key community assets.  Forest thinning, controlled burning, and reducing hazardous fuels within and adjacent to communities increases resilience to wildfire by moderating fire behavior and reducing negative fire effects.” 

Nick went onto share, “That’s why building a fire adapted community requires active engagement from land managers including private property owners, foresters, and fire management professionals alike.  We can’t have fire adapted communities without landscapes that are resilient to wildfire.”  

Check out the new guide to learn more about considerations in the surrounding environment and become better prepared and more well-adapted for inevitable wildfire.

Prescott,AZ
The Prescott Area Wildland/Urban Interface Commission was born in 1990 from the flames of an earlier fire in the region. The 1983 Thumb Butte fire was a catalyst for a long-term effort to improve communication and standardization of equiment among area firefighting agencies. This broad collaborative approach blossomed over the years to include participation by dozens of entities in all aspects of fire adaptation across the City of Prescott and Yavapai County.

The Prescott area example is just one of many case studies featured in the new Guide to Fire Adapted Communities reference document available at www.fireadapted.org. Read more about how cooperative alliances and mutual aid agreements can help your area become better prepared and more well-adapted for inevitable wildfire.

Thursley
Within a few short months of signing a memorandum of understanding with US partners, the Chief Fire Officers Association of the United Kingdom is helping guide outreach and projects to prepare residents for wildfire.

According to Alan Clark, Area Commander with the Surrey Fire & Rescue Service, with support, advice and information from partners including NFPA and the International Association of Fire Chiefs, his department in the south of England has decided to approach the semi-rural village of Thursley with a plan to become a Firewise Community. Thursley suffered an unprecedented and devastating wildfire in 2006 that lasted 5 days, impacted some 450 acres (180 hectares) of woodland habitat, and required massive deployment of firefighters and equipment to bring it under control.  

Meetings with community members have been very positive according to Clark, with upcoming meetings with the community council planned in order to cement their approval and buy-in to wildfire safety action at the local level. About the photo above of a recent meeting, he writes, "...please look carefully above the doors on the left – you can see some of the signage we are hoping to use in the village as we roll this out!"

Later this week, Clark and other project leaders will be travelling to the Peak District to be guest speakers at the MoorLIFE launch of their new project “Be Fire Aware” & Wildfire Awareness day, an exciting new prevention/education initiative (http://www.moorsforthefuture.org.uk/be-fire-aware). We'll keep our Fire Break readers posted as these community-based projects get underway.

Cragsmoor_1Over the weekend I had the absolute pleasure of visiting New York State! I lived there for a bit when I was younger so it definitely has a special place in my heart.

I had to check if New York had its own Firewise page and lo and behold, it did!

Cragsmoor in the Northern Shawangunks Ridge is a small community with just around 500 people. The area as a whole has a wooded, rustic ambience with tall trees and more than 30 rare plant and animal species. Interestingly, it also has the second largest chestnut oak forest in New York.

Cragsmoor is situated at the edge of a 5,000-acre natural area that creates a complex landscape that includes a mosaic of human development and flammable fuel types.

There are a lot of factors that have caused concern for the fire safety of the community. For one, over the past couple decades, fire suppression efforts that are necessary to protect life and property and large amounts of leaves, twigs and flammable shrubs have set stage for unusually severe, high intensity fires. Another problem is that although the Cragsmoor Volunteer Fire Company is less than five miles from everywhere in the community, there are no fire hydrants.

With such high a fire risk and no fire hydrants, a wildfire under these conditions would be absolutely devastating to the forest and nearby homes. So to tackle this issue, The Nature Conservancy, the organization managing Sam’s Point Preserve, the Cragsmoor Volunteer Fire Company, the New York Department of Environmental Conservation and Ulster County officials drafted a Wildfire Pre-Incident Plan to ensure any wildfire is suppressed as quickly and safely as possible.

A Firewise Board was formed with the mission of identifying and raising awareness of the potential for property and life loss and to implement strategies to minimize the impact of wildfires.

Even though they had a lot of factors working against them and were contributing to their home being a fire threat, the people of Cragsmoor really went above and beyond to ensure all the safety threats were taken care of.

Read the rest of their story on their Success page.

And don’t forget to check to see if your home state is represented in the Successes page. 

California Fires - July 2014
Sand Fire Photo Credit:  Sky10/News10, Sacramento, CA 

Sand Fire:  A vehicle driving over dry brush started the Sand Fire July 25, in Armador and El Dorado counties near the Sierra Nevada foothills, close to vineyards east of Sacramento, CA. The fire has destroyed13 homes and covers an area of about 6 square miles and is about 65 percent contained.

El Portal Fire:  More than 1,200 people have been evacuated at some point since the fire began on Saturday, July 26 with more than 500 homes under current evacuation orders. Close to 2,000 firefighters have been battling this blaze that is under investigation.

In an area that includes both Yosemite National Park and the Stanislaus National Forest, the El Portal fire is threatening the communities of Foresta and Old El Portal along with three campgrounds.  The blaze is burning south of last year's Rim fire, which covered more than 250,000 acres in and around Yosemite.

Hundreds of firefighters are battling the blaze with personnel from the National Park Service, the U.S. Forest Service and Cal Fire. One structure has been lost with only 5% containment. The fire is threatening the Merced Grove of Giant Sequoias within the National Park.

Dark Hole Fire: Another fire 4.5 miles north of Yosemite Valley called the Dark Hole Fire started following a lightning storm on July 16 and is about a mile south of Yosemite Creek campground.  This fire has grown to about 600 acres and is spreading to the east and north.

Playing with Fire final - July 25 2014
I try and set aside a few minutes each Friday to read trade articles and email that’s piled up during the week, and when I got to that place on my calendar today a piece from a colleague was calling my name. That article was from authors Rachel Cleetus and Kranti Mulak with the Union of Concerned Scientists. Their recently released report, “Playing with Fire – How Climate Change and Development Patterns are Contributing to the Soaring Costs of Western Wildfires” was screaming for me to open it. The report strives to explain why western wildfires are worsening; why current policies and practices may be increasing risks and costs; and the impacts and recommendations on limiting costs. It also includes case studies from California, Colorado, Montana and New Mexico; and the issues occurring in those states.

They outline steps that need to be taken that include: building resilience in communities on the frontlines of risk, reducing the expansion of development near fire-prone areas and cutting the emissions fueling climate change; all of which will be crucial to limiting the impacts of wildfires on people and forests.

There's also a lot of great data, maps, photos and charts that you'll virtually dog-ear to include in future PowerPoints. So when you’re carving out time for some work related reading, add this one to your list!

  Parkland Community SC - July 24 2014

Media coverage of wildland fires often creates or renews situational awareness among residents in neighboring communities; and often acts as a motivator for residents to implement steps to reduce vulnerability. Following the March 2013 Carolina Forest wildland fire in the Windsor Green neighborhood that destroyed 108 units in more than two-dozen condominium buildings (the most destructive natural disaster in the Carolina Forest), the Parkland Community at Legends in Myrtle Beach turned their rekindled awareness into full-speed ahead actions.

This community of more than 200 homes had close calls themselves with wildfires in 2002, 2011 and 2012, but the Windsor Green fire was the catalyst that took their actions to a higher level. Within a month of the Windsor Green event, the Parkland Community reached out to the South Carolina Forestry Commission and Horry County Fire Rescue requesting informational presentations for residents.

Since that fortuitous meeting fifteen months ago, the Parkland Community has worked closely with the South Carolina Forestry Commission and they now have a multitude of successes that includes: an updated wildfire assessment, residents replacing highly flammable pine straw in their gardens with mulch or stone, national Firewise Communities/USA® recognition status, a National Fire Plan grant, a 50’ wide fuel break around the community, fire hydrant reflectors along with a 3’ cleared area around the hydrants and on-going vegetation management projects. Firewise committee members have also volunteered their time to do fuels reduction work and homeowners are actively implementing Firewise principles around their residences.

Considering the short amount of time that's elapsed since that initial meeting in April 2013, this community has reached many milestones that often take years to accomplish!  Kudos to all that have worked hard to make this area a safer place to live.

Our thanks to Sushama Karmarkar for sharing this community’s successes. What they've done will help motivate others to move from awareness into action! 

In its August issue, just out on newsstands, Men’s Journal magazine highlights America’s wildfire problem and what the country is trying to do to tackle this growing crisis. Journal 2

Author David H. Freedman, in his article titled, “America is Burning,” examines the many different aspects of the fire problem including climate change, the impact of drought and increased development in the wildland/urban interface. With information, opinions and statistics gleamed from the impressive list of industry professionals he interviewed, Mr. Freedman looks at all sides of the equation, from suppression, wildfire preparedness, codes and regulations, fire adapted communities and more. Our own Michele Steinberg was interviewed as well for the article, providing NFPA’s point of view on the goal and mission of the Firewise Communities Program.

This 8-page, in-depth article is online, and definitely worth a read. Not near a computer? The article can also be found at your local newsstand. 

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

  • Updated information about the FAC Learning Network and its pilot community project
  • Tips on how to keep your campfire from becoming a wildfire
  • A story that highlights the “bright spots” of fire safety even in the middle of a tough wildfire season
  • A link to our national wildfire activity map

… 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.

Lightning
Oregon and Washington have seen their share of wildfire activity this past month. News reports say that a combined 940,000 acres in both states have burned to date. Fire officials point to lightning as the cause of several of the large fires. Northwest Interagency Coordination Center spokeswoman, Carol Connolly, said this morning that 3,000 lightning strikes were reported in Oregon as storms moved from Northern California into southern Oregon and points north. These same storms, according to California news reports, created more than 20,000 lightning strikes across much of that state, including dozens in the Bay Area of San Francisco.

Living in the Northeast, I tend to associate lightning with heavy rain storms. So while California and much of the Pacific Northwest is experiencing severe drought conditions and high temperatures, I started wondering, how do these storms produce enough lightning to ignite wildfires while at the same time, not produce enough rain to end the drought?

After reading a few news reports, I think I found my answer. Brenda Belongie, a meteorologist with the U.S. Forest Service explains it this way:  “Lightning can hit a tree and just hang out, particularly after rain. It can smolder for several weeks. Think of a long, slow, glowing ember. Then, when it warms up and dries, a fire emerges.”

The Forest Service says lightning is the leading cause of wildfires in California, and as I mentioned above, lightning is the source of many of the large fires in Oregon and Washington. With more thunderstorms in the forecast for the Pacific Northwest, fire officials are worried about the potential for additional flare ups.

So while there are things we can do to reduce the number of “human-caused” wildfires, what can we humans do about lightning-caused fires? The U.S. Forest Service says that firefighters are using aircraft to monitor sites identified by our country’s “lightning detection system” which, through radio signals, can report a lightning strike within 15 seconds. The idea is to identify and extinguish as quickly as possible any fires ignited by these lighting strikes.

As for us homeowners, while we can’t stop lightning from hitting trees in our forests or rush to extinguish the fire after they've been hit, we can do something to reduce the amount of damage it can cause to our homes and property. Start by working around your yard, getting rid of dead and downed debris, cleaning out gutters and limbing trees. Creating defensible space, as this technique is called, is a great way to keep wind-blown wildfire embers from sparking a fire on your home or in your yard. You can find specific information about defensible space on our Firewise web page.

And it might be good to note that with all of these lightning strikes happening around our communities, we need to exercise caution to keep our own selves safe. NFPA has produced a great tips sheet and video, which provide important information to help you and your family stay safe during a storm. Take a look today and share this information with friends and neighbors. You (and they) will be glad you did!  

Photo courtesy of Wildfire Today blog

NFPA has gotten a lot of requests lately from our friends in the states wanting to know "where do we rank with Firewise?" Of course, they are referring to the numbers of active Firewise Communities/USA sites in each state. 

Check out this list, pulled from our data just yesterday. These 11 states (two are tied for 7th place) represent 75% of all active Firewise communities in the country - nearly 1,100 sites to date.

Yes, Arkansas is still the top state to beat (and their Governor is rightly proud of this). We hope that with all the fire activity in Washington state during the past few weeks that their excellent showing in community engagement and wildfire safety action will pay off in terms of homes saved and property protected.

Visit www.firewise.org/usa for more information on how to apply wildfire safety principles in your community and gain recognition for your neighborhood's risk reduction actions.

TopTenJul2014

 

!http://nfpa.typepad.com/.a/6a00d8351b9f3453ef01a3fd370ede970b-800wi|border=0|src=http://nfpa.typepad.com/.a/6a00d8351b9f3453ef01a3fd370ede970b-800wi|alt=Bay_tree_1|width=343|style=margin: 0px 0px 5px 5px;|title=Bay_tree_1|class=asset asset-image at-xid-6a00d8351b9f3453ef01a3fd370ede970b img-responsive|height=266!Is anyone from North Carolina? Because this week’s Firewise ‘State of the Week’ post is all about the “Old North State”! First up, we have the Bay Tree Lakes Community.


Sandwiched between two deep blue lakes and thick foliage, the Bay Tree Lakes Community lies in Bladen County. With fishing, wakeboarding, jet skiing or even just enjoying the gorgeous scenery, there is always something fun, new and exciting to do.


But this popular tourist destination is highly susceptible to large wildfires. The heavy concentrations of peat in the soil and deep layers of decaying pinestraw and trees tend to burn several feet into the ground and can burn for weeks. This makes control efforts dangerous for firefighters.


The community felt that they needed to do something. So the Bladen County staff of the North Carolina Division of Forest Resources (NCDFR) and District Firewise Coordinator Michael Hardison, created a hazard assessment document. The document highlighted every problem area that was a fire threat. To tackle these problem areas, the community property owners association formed a Firewise Task Force, who then drew up a hazard mitigation plan that listed steps homeowners could take to reduce their wildfire threat.


 

Trust me, you don’t want to miss out on how they went about making their community a safer place. Visit our Success Stories page where you can read the full story about Bay Tree Lakes!


The good folks over at North Carolina really do seem to be fire safety conscious. They have a whopping EIGHT other communities who are also featured on our success stories page! They really are the state of the week. Show your support and read their stories!


Carolina Lake

The Currituck Club

Deercroft

Pisgah Forest Farms

Point Harbor Beach

River Run Plantation

Saint James

Summerhaven</li> </ul>

WA
According to Washington Governor Jay Inslee, about 50 fires are now burning across the state and residents continue to brace for the worst as firefighters battle the blazes that have been sparked by hot, dry weather, powerful winds and lightning. The Washington State Department of Natural Resources said over the weekend that firefighters from New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming have made their way to Washington to help fight the fires.

The Carlton Complex Fire, which began as four small fires and now has merged into one, was ignited by lightning, and has burned more than 238,000 acres across the central portion of the state. Fire crews, according to news reports, have been able to hold the fire back, and with cooler temperatures and lighter winds forecast for the next few days, many are hopeful they can make more progress in containing the flames. At the same time, Sheriff Frank Rogers said in a recent news report that the blaze is now moving away from populated areas and into timber.

The Chiwaukum Creek Fire, according to reports, has now burned more than 10,000 acres and thankfully, there have been no reports of injuries nor damage to structures. Residents in the area of Leavenworth, however, remain under an evacuation order.

The National Interagency Fire Center (NIFC) reports that high winds caused the Watermelon Hill Fire, burning southwest of Spokane, to grow from 5,000 acres to 13,000 acres. The good news is, there have been no reports of damaged or destroyed homes there, and the fire has not moved towards populated areas. Few evacuation orders have been made, but residents in the area are all on alert.

NFPA recently distributed an advisory to a number of states experiencing increased wildfire activity, including Washington. The advisory lists a number of resources and information like what to do “before, during and after” a wildfire, the basics of defensible space, a Firewise homeowners checklist and safety tips sheet. All of these are available to help people learn what they can do to reduce their risk of injuries and prevent damage to their homes, property, businesses and more. Check out NFPA’s wildland fire web page for these and other resources to help keep you and your family safe this summer.

Photo: Firefighters try to hold the flames on the front lines of the Carlton Complex Fire in Central Washington on July 20, 2014.(Photo: Alex Rozier, KING-TV, Seattle-Tacoma, Wash.)

NFPA and Domino’s Pizza are teaming up for the 7th year to deliver fire safety messages and pizza during FPW, October 5-11, 2014. To continue the campaign's success, we’re encouraging fire departments to join forces with their local Domino’s Pizza store and implement the program in their communities. Domino's logo

Here’s how it works: Over a one- to two-day period (it’s up to each team to decide) for an hour each day, anyone who orders a Domino’s pizza may be randomly selected to receive a surprise visit from Domino’s and the local fire department. Upon arrival, firefighters will do a smoke alarm check in the home. If the smoke alarms are working, the pizza is free. If not, firefighters will replace the batteries or install a fully functioning alarm.

Fire departments that sign up to participate in the Domino’s program this month will automatically be entered into Domino’s FPW sweepstakes. Five randomly selected winners will receive NFPA’s “FPW-in-a-Box 300”, which includes:

  • 1 FPW Banner
  • 75 FPW Posters
  • 300 Adult FPW Brochures
  • 300 Kids FPW Brochures
  • 300 FPW Stickers
  • 300 FPW Magnets
  • 300 Copies of FPW NEws
  • 300 FPW Bags

To enter the sweepstakes, complete the FPW/Domino's form and email it to jeannette.conklin@dominos.com between July 16 andJuly 31. The winners will be drawn and announced on August 8. Good luck!

9821975DC73B4A2EA255FC20D0FFBFB6.ashxIn 2013, 97 firefighters died while on duty in the United States, a sharp increase over recent years due primarily to the Yarnell Hill Fire in Arizona, which claimed the lives of 19 wildland firefighters, and the explosion at a fertilizer plant in Texas that killed nine firefighters, an EMT, and five local residents. Of the 97 men and women who died last year, 56 succumbed while operating on the fire ground. According to the 2013 NFPA report on firefifighter fatalities, this is the highest number of fire ground deaths since 1999, aside from the deaths at the World Trade Center in 2001.

Overexertion, stress, and medical issues accounted for 32 deaths, the largest share of firefighter fatalities last year. The second leading cause of fatal injury was being caught or trapped by rapid fire progress, including flashover, and explosions. These events resulted in 30 deaths.The firefighters who died last year ranged in age from 19 to 76, with a median age of 40. However, a much higher number of younger firefighters died in 2013 than in other years, mostly as a result of the Yarnell Hill Fire, which killed 19 firefighters, 15 of whom were between the ages of 21 and 30.

For more information on the firefighter deaths of 2013, read "Firefighter Fatalities in the United States, 2013" in the latest issue of NFPA Journal. You may also read the full report, as well as case studies of the fatalities, online. 

Receive the print edition of NFPA Journal and browse online member-only archives as part of your NFPA membership. Learn more about the many benefits and join today.

We continue to promote the contents of the, “Guide to Fire Adapted Communities,” and the additional resources and expertise of the various Fire Adapted Community Coalition members.  The guide’s “collaboration and outreach” section speaks to the importance of this in a Fire Adapted Community, creating a strong local team, and available tools for success.  FACRG14 Cover

The outreach role of fire departments in a Fire Adapted Community is key.  The International Association of Fire Chiefs' Ready, Set, Go! Program Manager Caitlin McGuire shared with me that, “A fire service members’ voice is uniquely trusted, respected, and admired by the general public. The FAC fire preparedness message can save lives, and resonates to the community t hrough the voices of our fire service members.”  Caitlin went onto explain that, “Implementing FAC outreach into your department’s educational plan is the simplest way to provide important information to the varied audiences within your community. Not only does this outreach enable you to engage with the residents you serve, but it can provide great relationship-building opportunities with other agencies, local officials, local businesses, and neighborhood associations.”

The guide’s outreach section provides both information and context on available tools for local success.  These include the IAFC’s Ready, Set, Go! Program for fire department outreach; the National Volunteer Fire Council’s Wildland Fire Assessment Program for the fire service; and NFPA’s Firewise Communities/USA Recognition Program for residents and community groups.  The section also provides a great collaboration and outreach case study of the Towns County, GA, Fire Adapted Communities effort.  Wildfire safety outreach materials for the fire service can also be obtained from the US Fire Administration

Learn more about the role of collaboration and outreach in a Fire Adapted Community.  Please visit the resources page on Fireadapted.org to learn more or download the guide from here.

Arkansas Governor Mike Beebe used his weekly column and radio address last week to highlight how Firewise continues to combat wildfires in the state.  Arkansas is a leader in Firewise Community development and resident efforts around their neighborhoods.  Governor Beebe praised the collaborative work of the Arkansas Forestry Commission in encouraging communities to join Firewise; the benefits of the CWPP process in Arkansas; and the positive role of fire departments in outreach and support. 

We are very thankful for the ongoing efforts of Firewise Coordinator Kevin Kilcrease and Firewise Information Officer Sheila Doughty with the Arkansas Forestry Commission.  Sheila shared with me that, “One of the thinks that makes Arkansas Firewise so strong is the power of community and that residents are working to help their fellow Arkansasns.  We are very appreciative that Governor Beebe chose to recognize Arkansas Firewise twice this year [in his weekly column].”  She went on to praise the work of county foresters and rangers who she explained are a huge help in talking with fire departments and getting communities involved. 

In the weekly column, Governor Beebe also highlighted the Firewise Community of Norphlet, AR, and their national recognition in the 2013 “Firewise Challenge” for mitigation efforts.  I spoke with Norphlet Fire Chief Wesley Harper, who serves as the Firewise Community contact, and he shared that there is a good understanding of the role of mitigation year round in their community and a strong community focus for the efforts of residents. 

In Norphlet, the fire department assists with mitigation removal and preparedness advocacy.  Chief Harper added that, “The more the public can see a fire truck, the better they feel about their fire department.” 

We thank Governor Mike Beebe, the Arkansas Forestry Commission, and Arkansas’ 131 current Firewise Communities for their continued support to wildfire preparedness and community engagement. 

  Snippit for Aug workshop blog

While planning this past spring for our virtual workshop series, more than 1,000 Firewise Communities were asked to rank a list of topics they were most interested in learning about through the new learning format. The top three choices were:

  1. Understanding how embers ignite roofs
  2. Mulch combustibility – which types are best for WUI homes
  3. How to reduce a deck’s vulnerability during a wildfire

On July 15, participants were immersed in the first session:  Understanding How Embers Ignite Roofs; and on August 19, Dr. Steve Quarles with the Insurance Institute for Building & Home Safety will join us once again for an hour-long discussion on the second most requested topic:  Mulch Combustibility. 

On a recent visit to my neighborhood garden store I decided to take a gander over to the packaged mulch aisle to read the labels and see if I could easily ascertain which mulch was best for wildland/urban interface landscapes. Unfortunately, all that exercise did was confirm the need for more and better information about the topic. Selecting the right one can definitely be a challenge since it’s hard to know which type offers the best performance in a wildfire prone area. As innocuous as buying mulch sounds, choosing the right one should be part of your overall mitigation plan since it’s often placed directly next to a home’s foundation.

Join NFPA’s Wildland Fire Operations Division and special guest Dr. Steve Quarles and learn how your next trip to the local garden center can contribute to improving your home’s level of survivability in a wildfire.

Have a question you’d like to submit for the “Ask an Expert” interactive segment of the workshop? Send yours to cprudhomme@nfpa.org

Workshop participation is limited to the first 100 registrants; preregister at your earliest opportunity.  Following the live workshop, the session in its entirety will be available for viewing on the Firewise site’s Online Courses and Education section.

Fire
A number of wildfires that have spread across Nevada, Washington and Oregon have prompted the governors of two of these states to declare states of emergency and calls for evacuation for hundreds of homes, according to news reports. As we previously have reported, high temperatures and continued drought conditions are to blame for the rash of fires, which, according to officials, are spreading rapidly across sections of these states.

USA Today reports that in Washington, The Chiwaukum Creek Fire has burned more than 1,200 acres and nearly 400 people have been told to evacuate, while another 800 homes are threatened. The Mills Canyon Fire has now burned more than 20,000 acres, but the good news there is, it is now 40 percent contained. To date, a state of emergency has been issued for 20 counties in the eastern part of the state.

In Oregon, Governor John Kitzhaber has declared a state of emergency … officials there report 13 fires are burning. The Buzzard Complex of fires in the eastern part of the state, according to the USA report, is nearly 90,000 acres, and the Bailey Butte Fire and two other fires have burned a combined 6,000 acres.

Both Nevada and California are also seeing their share of wildfire activity with a fire near Carson City burning 150 acres, and the Bully Fire in Shasta County, California, while it has burned more than 10,000 acres, thankfully is about 40 percent contained.

For those living in states with a high wildfire risk, NFPA has a handful of great resources to help you prepare ahead of a fire and information about what to do when a wildfire is burning in your area, tips on emergency/evacuation planning, putting together an emergency kit and so much more.

Take a look at our wildfire web pages where you can download tip sheets and checklists, view our map that shows where wildfires are in relation to your community, and read stories about homeowners like you, who are working together to create safer neighborhoods and reduce their risk of wildfire damage.

But with so many resources available, it can sometimes be confusing to know where to start. Take a look at some of the resources I mention above. Then, if you've got questions and need more information about your role in wildfire preparedness and how you can work together with your neighbors, contact the Firewise staff, or check out the Firewise and Fire Adapted Communities websites. We’re here to help in any way we can, and provide the guidance you need to get you started on the path to wildfire safety, today.

  Graphic for recorded workshop blog - July 16 2014

The recent Understanding How Embers Ignite Roofs in a Wildland Fire – and how to Make Them More Survivable  workshop was recorded in its entirety, and is now available for downloading on the Online Courses and Education section of the Firewise site.

Included in the one-hour format is a presentation from Dr.Steve Quarles with the Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety (IBHS) and a series of “Ask an Expert” questions from participants. Video segments include a look inside the IBHS research lab in Richburg, South Carolina during one of their ember tests.

This unique learning format provides wildland/urban interface homeowners with information on how to make important mitigation modifications at their homes.

Comments from participants included:

"All in all a VERY worthwhile webinar by a real expert." – Bill T.

"It was a great webinar - thank you for sponsoring it. Looking forward to the next one!” – Nanci T.

"An excellent workshop" - Judy J.  

NFPA’s Wildland Fire Operations Division is busy working on securing top subject matter experts for future “Ask an Expert” sessions.  Space is limited to 100 registrants. 

August's topic is: Mulch Combustibility – Choosing the Right Type for Your Wildland/Urban Interface Home.  In a recent questionnaire to recognized Firewise Communities, participants ranked this next topic as their second most desired. We're excited to have Dr. Stephen Quarles as the “Ask an Expert” for the August session too.  Pre-registration is available now.

 

Last week, the Fire Adapted Communities Coalition released its, “Guide to Fire Adapted Communities.” It serves as a beneficial go-to reference document that puts in clear language for communities and local residents the FAC concept and the role they can each play in preparedness.

FACRG14 CoverWe’ve heard great comments about its content and I want to highlight one reason for those positive responses.  Chapter 5 of the guide focuses on preparing neighborhoods and developments for wildfire.   It outlines in clear language how the various groups in a Fire Adapted Community can work collectively on preparedness and details ignition risks to landscapes and the built environment.  Much of these details come from the Insurance Institute for Business and Home Safety (IBHS) – a member of the FAC Coalition – through its research into embers, flame contact, and radiant heat.  They also provide beneficial educational materials for residents to understand their insurance needs. 

The value of these considerations are clear.  Julie Rochman, IBHS president and CEO, shared that, “With many areas of the country experiencing significant drought and very warm temperatures, it’s critical that property owners in wildfire-prone regions create and maintain defensible space surrounding their home or business.” 

She went into share with us that, “Through field studies and ongoing wildfire research at the IBHS Research Center, we have found that this is the best way to reduce the risk of costly damage as a result of wildfire. With little to no cost, a property owner can significantly increase their resilience to wildfire damage using IBHS guidance available on their website, www.DisasterSafety.org/Wildfire.

Learn more about recommendations you can take preparing landscapes and buildings for wildfire.  Please visit the resources page on Fireadapted.org to learn more or download the guide from here.

In recognition of the anniversaries of the South Canyon and Black Tiger Fires in Colorado this month, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the U.S. Forest Service Rocky Mountain Region posted a press release that provides a number of resources, including Firewise, evacuation and emergency kit information for residents, and stresses the importance of preparing your property for wildfire. Taking steps to mitigate not only protects you and your family, states the release, but it also helps reduce risk to firefighters and other first responders. CO

Twenty years ago on July 2, 1994, lightning sparked a fire on Storm King Mountain, just west of Glenwood Springs, Colorado. The South Canyon Fire started out slowly, covering just three acres over two days. Then due to several factors including available vegetation, slope of the terrain and wind, the fire began a high-intensity, fast-moving front. While fighting the blaze, 14 firefighters lost their lives.

July 9, 2014, marked the 25th anniversary of the Black Tiger Fire in Boulder County, Colorado. The human-caused fire swept through residential areas, destroying 44 homes and burning almost 2,100 acres. At the time, the Black Tiger Fire was the worst wildland fire loss in Colorado history.

Learn more about the Black Tiger and South Canyon Fires, and more by visiting FEMA’s newsroom page.

Turkey_hill2Firewise principles work. We have all the scientific research and statistics you can ask for. But more than that, it’s the real-life situations that actually prove it! Communities across the country are verifying how simple and beneficial it is to become Firewise. To highlight their accomplishments, we are starting a ‘State of the Week’ blog post, to look back at just how neighbors have come together to make the place they call home, a safer place to live.

So for our first post I chose my beautiful home state of Massachusetts.

Expansion of a town near Turkey Hill in Holbrook, MA, had created a major concern for locals. The forest had quickly acquired a thick mat of oak and pine needles and had just as quickly become a dumping ground for yard and household waste. Houses were being constructed increasingly closer to the forest that was potentially a fire hazard and the residents knew they had to act on it.

The Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) was contacted. They conducted a neighborhood assessment and discovered that the yard waste that was being stockpiled in many of the yards of homes equaled a dangerous fuel load. So the Town Forest Committee and the non-profit Friends of the Town Forest, worked together on a campaign to raise awareness of the potential wildfire problem.

 

Find out how the residents of Turkey Hill prevented what could have been a potentially devastating fire and more on the Firewise website.

And if you’re like me and just can’t seem to get enough of these, visit our “success stories” web page

This post was submitted by Kurt Larson with the Crown King, Arizona fire district, to share a success story about his community's work to reduce their wildfire risk. 

Saturday June 14th  2014, permanent and part-time residents of Crown King, AZ joined forces with the Crown King Fire District staff and volunteers, as well as representatives from the US Forest Service to collect and relocate dangerous fire fuels.  Crown King Firewise had been working with CKFD for several weeks encouraging property owners to create defensible space and pile brush along their roadway for the free annual Brush Round-up.

43 volunteers, equipped with an array of equipment ranging from pitchforks and shovels, to Bobcat excavators and massive dump trucks were organized under Operations Manager Linda Lombardo.  The massive well-planned project enabled the group to accomplish their clean-up mission in about 5 hours.  68 property owners took the time to clear defensible space, resulting in approximately 70 loads of fire fuels delivered first to a convenient staging area – then via large dump trucks to a safe-burn site for disposition during winter months.  Throughout the busy morning Safety and Hydration Officers patrolled each division – with no reported injuries, and volunteers from Crown King’s own Kids Corral delivered home-made sandwiches to hungry crews

“This was an outstanding job by all the volunteers.  They have helped to make our community safe from a catastrophic wild fire event.  Thanks to everyone who donated their time and equipment to the Fuels Clean Up Day”, says Crown King Fire Chief Steve Lombardo.

Immediately following the successful event, the CKFD hosted their annual “Thank you BBQ/Potluck to show their appreciation to all volunteers and firefighters who participated in the Fuels Clean Up project. 

On Friday June 27th, representatives from Arizona State Department of Forestry came to Crown King to present Fire Chief Lombardo and Shannon Kukulka, President of Crown King’s Firewise Executive Committee with their official certification of a NATIONALLY-RECOGNIZED, FIREWISE COMMUNITY!

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A wildfire burning near the Moccasin Hill neighborhood in southern Oregon has officials there worried about its increasing size due to the high winds and extremely dry conditions. News reports state that more than 100 people have been evacuated from homes in the area but thankfully, no word of any injuries.

According to InciWeb, The Moccasin Hill Fire is roughly 2,000 acres and has destroyed six homes and another 14 buildings. There has been no sign of lightning so officials are now investigating the cause. Blog

In other news, the White River Fire has burned nearly 570 acres in the White River Canyon, about 12 miles west of Tygh Valley. No structures there are threatened. As White River Canyon is designated a wilderness, it is steep and very hazardous, according to officials. Hotshot crews are working inside the canyon to construct a fireline among other tactics to keep the fire at bay.

Gusty winds from thunderstorms today and tonight along with hot and dry conditions are causes for concern for those fighting the fires.

Photo credit:  AP

Journal
Six days, 93 wildfires, two deaths, and more than 100 houses destroyed—the event that locals call “Firestorm ’91” still weighs heavily on the residents of Spokane, Washington, who were there to witness it.

Less than a decade after the tragedy and mere miles from where a woman had died trying to flee her burning neighborhood, developer Chris Heftel set to work planning a large new housing development called River Bluff Ranch. The 2,000-acre site sat precariously along the edge of the heavily forested Riverside State Park, on land snarled with dead trees and vegetation—potential fuel for another wildfire. Heftel and local fire officials feared that the site was primed for a repeat disaster.

The story of how Heftel overcame those obstacles, and greatly diminished the chances of a fire tragedy at River Bluff Ranch, is one of many told in a new multimedia exhibit, “Designing for Disaster,” on display through August 2, 2015, at the National Building Museum in Washington, D.C.

Read Heftel’s story in the July/August 2014 issue of NFPA Journal®.

You can also learn more about NFPA’s work on disaster prevention. Leading the effort for many years, NFPA’s codes and standards contain a number of provisions designed to protect life and property including NFPA 1600, Disaster/Emergency Management and Business Continuity Programs; NFPA 70®, National Electrical Code® and NFPA 13, Installation of Sprinkler Systems.

Check out the latest issue of Journal for these and many other stories related to fire and life safety at www.nfpa.org/journal

Wildfire WatchIn the latest issue of NFPA Journal's Wildfire Watch column, "Up in the Air,” I take aim at the PowerPoint centric discourse of national wildfire policy, while those in the field see policy play out in front of them in real time. 

I explain that in any industry, we should ask ourselves what tools define our viewpoint and if there is a better tool out where our industry is occurring.  And what would that more desirable viewpoint be?  The view from a Cessna 182, high above Okeechobee, FL, and the lessons learned from a pilot with the Florida Forest Service scouting for smoke on the horizon.  

Read the full Wildfire Watch column in this month's NFPA Journal to hear more about the value of viewpoints and what this more desirable viewpoint, from up in the clouds, might teach us.  

-Lucian Deaton

New Mexico Blog - July 11.2014

New Mexico State Forestry and partner agencies have created an online “After Wildfire” guide that offers information on how to deal with the aftereffects of wildfire.

The guide was written to help New Mexico communities recover following a wildfire, but the information can easily be adapted and useful to wildland/urban interface communities everywhere. It includes information on how to mobilize a community, potential resources, a technical guide with information on post-fire treatments and preparing for potential flooding.

Safety is a primary issue immediately following a destructive wildfire and the guide includes a section with information on the steps to take to help get homes, communities and lives moving forward through the recovery phase. The information is beneficial to know before a wildfire and also becomes invaluable post-fire as communities start their recovery and restoration efforts.  

In honor of the late Philip J. DiNenno, the highly regarded former CEO of Hughes Associates who passed away in 2013, NFPA and Hughes Associates have established the DiNenno Prize to recognize significant technical developments that enhance fire safety. Phil

In addition to honoring Mr. DiNenno's memory, the DiNenno Prize will encourage and recognize significant technical developments that have an impact on public safety, including building, fire, and electrical safety. A prize committee will consider nominations submitted from around the world.

Mr. DiNenno was recognized for his many accomplishments in the fire protection field including the NFPA Standards Medal and the Lamb Award. Throughout his career he provided leadership to the fire protection engineering profession, most recently as CEO of Hughes Associates. 

Learn more about the award and Mr. DiNenno’s efforts and accomplishments in fire protection on NFPA’s website at www.nfpa.org/dinneno and in our latest press release.

According to Washington State’s Department of Natural Resources, four active wildfires are burning across the state’s southeast region. Temperatures reaching 100 degrees or more are forecast for the area over the next few days, and combined with the dry conditions the state is currently experiencing, the risk for continued wildfire activity remains high. WA

The Mills Canyon Fire, about two miles west of Entiat, according to news reports, has grown to nearly 28 square miles and is threatening about 200 homes there. Area residents have been told to evacuate immediately while another 120 or so residents are on alert.

Eastern Washington has been under a burn ban since July 1. On July 8, the DNR issued a warning that the fire danger rating has increased from "moderate" to "high," and has put restrictions in place for those working in the woods. 

Yesterday also marked the 13-year anniversary of the Thirty Mile Fire in which four firefighters died while fighting the blaze in the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest.

Find out more about how you can play a role in wildfire preparedness and the steps you can take to reduce your risk of wildfire damage by visiting NFPA's wildland fire web pages. You can also check out our "success stories" page that provides great stories and testimonials from residents just like you in Washington State and in other states around the country who have worked together on wildfire mitigation projects and in the process became recognized Firewise communities, Incidentally, Forest Ridge, located about ten miles southwest of Wenatchee, WA, was one of the winners of the 2013 Firewise Challenge. Read their winning story

Are you living in a Firewise community? Let us know what your experience has been. We'd love to hear from you.  

Fire Marshal Tonya HooverCalifornia Fire Marshal Tonya Hoover, who also serves as a member of the NFPA Board of Directors, is being honored with the 2014 Excellence in Fire and Life Safety Award from the International Code Council (ICC) and the Fire & Life Safety Section of the International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC).

“Tonya Hoover’s work in fire safety and prevention undoubtedly has saved countless lives,” said ICC Board President Stephen Jones. "Her dedication has been inspirational to many. Tonya is a hero in every sense of the word.”

Fire Marshal Hoover has been actively involved in fire prevention, public education and risk mitigation for more than 20 years. She has been a strong advocate for home fire sprinklers. In 2011, California became one of two states (joining Maryland) that requires fire sprinkler systems be installed in new one- and two- family homes.

Congratulations to Fire Marshal Hoover on this ICC/IAFC award.

It will been 9 summers since I was last in the Orleans area working as a wildland firefighter/ground thumper on the Six Rivers National Forest.  This summer assignment sticks out in my mind for a number of reasons: (1) the beauty and ruggedness of the landscape (2) the perilous nature of this wildfire prone area (3) the remoteness of this area and (4) the icy cold and refreshing water of the Salmon and Klamath Rivers.  There is a magnetic pull that attracts people of a certain ilk to these wild parts, some on the other hand like the Karuk people have lived in this valley since before Europeans settlement.   

At the time of the Orleans Fire Complex in 2006, the unincorporated community of Orleans was not yet a recognized Firewise Communities/USA site.  I can remember riding back to the fire camp on the windy Klamath River Hiway each evening, thinking this would be a perfect site for Firewise outreach activities. In 2011 Orleans became a nationally recognized Firewise Communities/USA site. With the community taking responsibility through leveraging Firewise principles and the recognition process, the journey to becoming more Fire Adapted is steadily being realized. 

Upon becoming a Fire Adapted Learning Network Hub in 2013, this community and its leaders have spearheaded a return to tradition in northern California where more prescribed burning is being reintroduced onto the landscape to help mitigate the community's overall wildfire risk exposure. The practice of prescribed burning is and will continue to be a critical activity enabling long term community resilience and ecosystem sustainability. It is with great pleasure that I share this recent informative documentary and success story put together by community leaders Stormy Staats of Klamath Media and Will Harling, Director of the Mid-Klamath Watershed Council and FAC Learning Network.  Enjoy.

 

Have a great story, case study or experience to share at the 2015 Backyards & Beyond conference? With NFPA accepting proposals in five key areas including community safety, home construction and landscape design, research, technology and wildfire planning, there's an section for any and all who want to present!

Beach 2Now's the time to save the date! If last year’s conference success in Salt Lake City is any indication, our 2015 event will be sure to please! Hundreds of attendees participated in a diverse number of sessions along with a handful of the top names in the wildfire and science industries who presented on topics such as climate change, wildfire policy, the social sciences, and research behind how homes ignite.

Take a moment to read some of the presentations from 2013 and get a feel for the program. You can find them on our NFPA/conference webpage. Our Fire Break blog always captures great moments and highlights during conference week with videos, interviews and updates on sessions. Check out that site today! Once you've take some time to review all of the great material … I know you’ll want to get involved!

 

But the deadline to submit your propsal for 2015 is fast approaching. Submit your application by August 29, 2014. If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to contact us here at NFPA. We're happy to help answer any questions you have. In the meantime, take a look at our 2015 conference webpage. There you'll find the latest information about Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, event location, registrationaccomodations and travel info and more. 

And don't forget...download our newest "Save the Date" postcard and pass it along to your friends and colleagues. 

We hope to see you all there!

Photo credit:  Visit Myrtle Beach

Today, the Fire Adapted Communities Coalition released its, “Guide to Fire Adapted Communities.”  It serves as a beneficial go-to reference document that puts in clear language for communities and local residents the FAC concept and the role they can each play in preparedness. FACRG14 Cover

The reference guide offers recent case studies and outlines considerations local groups can take to increase awareness and affect change in local wildfire preparedness understanding.  The guide also provides actionable collaboration and outreach guidance; considerations for the surrounding environment; planning and regulatory approaches; details on preparing neighborhoods and homes for wildfire; and lists available resources for success.   Being a Fire Adapted Community means identifying roles and coordinating with others across levels and participants.  

We encourage all to learn about the roles they can play in preparedness and steps they can take to work with fellow residents on the common threat of wildfire.  Please visit the resources page on Fireadapted.org to learn more or download the guide from here.  

When wildfires burn, it's important to know where they are in relation to your community. NFPA's wildfire map, developed by GeoMAC, shows current wildfire activity across the U.S. including when it started, the cause, the name and location of the fire and more. And the map is updated every 24 hours!

Check it out today! You can find the map on NFPA's wildfire web page.

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Alison Green the Project Wildfire Program Director and member of the Fire Adapted Learning Network forwarded me this interesting mini-documentary on the Two Bulls Fire and the need for defensible space and home hardening as Bend, Oregon expands into the forests that surround this beautiful city.   

Project Wildfire is one of the benchmark programs in community collaboration that exisits in the nation and is certainly a model that other communities should aspire to as they take the journey to becoming more Fire Adapted. One of the programs Project Wildfire administers in their suite of wildfire mitigation and prevention activities is the Firewise Communites/USA recognition program.  Year to date the City of Bend and the surrounding area has 17 recognized Firewise Communities/USA sites.  This fact alone is a testament to the resolve this community has against the threat of wildfire.

   

FWVW July 2014 Poster
Interest in next week’s Firewise Virtual Workshop: Understanding How Embers Ignite Roofs in a Wildland Fire and How to Make Your Roof More Survivable has been exceptionally strong. Limited openings remain for this live one-hour event – register now to attend! 

The one-hour format includes a thirty minute presentation by Dr. Steve Quarles with the Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety where he assists with research on building performance with regard to wildfire and moisture exposures; followed by a thirty minute live “Ask an Expert” interactive opportunity for pre-selected homeowners to ask a question related to the session’s topic. This unique learning format provides wildland/urban interface homeowners with information on how to make important mitigation modifications at their homes. 

Following the live workshop, the session in its entirety will be available for viewing.

Plan on also attending the next sesion in the series of “Ask an Expert” Workshops being held August 19 at 2pm MDT. The workshop’s topic is Mulch Combustibility – Choosing the Right Type for Your Wildland/Urban Interface Home. Pre-registration will be available following the July 15 session.

Just the other day, one of my colleagues here at NFPA sent the trailer to Disney’s latest film, Planes: Fire & Rescue. We had heard about this film many months back and as a fan of Disney/Pixar, I have been very curious to see how the film house would tackle such a timely and important topic as wildfire. Planes, which centers its story on a group of elite firefighting aircraft that sets out to protect historic Piston Peak National Park from a raging wildfire, will be released on July 18.

Check out the trailer to the movie or watch it below.

 

While the film does focus its attention on suppression (hence, the name, Planes), it’s important to remember that homeowners can and should still play a role in developing wildfire safety practices long before a wildfire threatens the community. Since there is no guarantee that firefighters will be able to reach our neighborhoods during a wildfire event, it’s up to all of us to do the work, because, what we do today will help reduce our risk tomorrow for damage and loss of property, limit the amount of injuries, and ultimately, help keep our firefighters safer while they are on the job.  

So, if you do plan on seeing the film with your family (and I know I will, for sure!), we encourage you to take this opportunity when you get home to engage everyone in a discussion about wildfire preparedness and the importance of wildfire safety. Need some help? We’ve got a handful of great resources you can draw on to start the conversation:

  • A wildfire safety tips sheet, including simple and easy tasks the whole family can do together.
  • A new web page that provides important steps to consider before a wildfire strikes, when a wildfire is in your area, and after the wildfire has been contained.
  • A Firewise Tips Checklist for Homeowners that includes the above-mentioned safety tips that can be taped to your fridge; a great way to mark your progress.

Additionally, for families with students in grades 6 - 8, the Ad Council recently informed me that they (together with the help of the U.S. Forest Service) created a Planes: Fire & Rescue Educational Activity Book that you can find on the Smokey.org website. The Disney Planes-themed exercises feature wildfire facts, games and activities and campfire safety information. If you haven’t noticed already, the Ad Council has also had a number of Planes-themed PSAs airing on local radio, TV and placed on billboards. Maybe you’ve heard or seen one of them?

As always, we want to hear from you. Let us know if/when you head to your local theatre and what you think of the movie. If you catch any of the PSAs, shoot us a note through our Twitter or Facebook accounts.  We look forward to hearing from you. Enjoy the show!

Two years ago, the City of Colorado Springs, Colorado suffered a major wildfire, which destroyed nearly 350 homes and was one of the most costly in the state’s history. Residents of Colorado Springs are still rebuilding after the Waldo Canyon Fire, but a recent blog post authored by Christina Randall of the Colorado Springs Fire Department and posted on FEMA's site, explains just how far they’ve come. Due to their ongoing mitigation work, wildfire safety programs and campaigns, not only was Colorado Springs able to save still many homes during that fire but the community is in a much better place to reduce its future risk for damage should another wildfire threaten their area.

Read Christina Randall’s full blog.

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For those who many not remember, in 2012 the Fire Adapted Communities (FAC) coalition released a report, “Lessons from Waldo Canyon,” and a companion video, “Creating Fire Adapted Communities:  A Case Study from Colorado Springs and the Waldo Canyon Fire.” The report and video are based on interviews, field visits and tours of the City’s most affected neighborhoods by the FAC coalition’s assessment team in July of 2012. Former NFPA Journal writer, Fred Durso, who visited Colorado Springs with the team, also provides a full account of his experience interviewing residents and touring the affected areas for a full-length feature article in the September/October 2012 issue of the Journal.

Be sure to check out these and all of the Waldo Canyon/FAC resources as a complement to Ms. Randall's blog post.(NOTE: a quick search for "Waldo Canyon" in NFPA's Fire Break blog provides great information and links to resources).

Learn more about FAC and the role residents can play in creating safer, more fire adapted communities by visiting the FAC website at www.fireadapted.org.

A wildfire near Napa Valley, California has not threatened any of the major wine vineyards but overnight the Butts Fire grew to almost 4,000 acres, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (Cal Fire). Although temps are in the 90’s, authorities say more favorable conditions are upon them and they are making progress on containing the fire. Still, mandatory evacuations are in place for about 200 homes. Authorities say the fire has since damaged one home and four outbuildings. Thankfully, no injuries have been reported. Cal

As predicted, the high temperatures and prolonged drought conditions are being blamed for helping to fuel this fire (though the actual cause is still under investigation), and continue to contribute to the outbreak of fires throughout California.To date, Cal Fire has issued warnings to residents to take extreme caution when outdoors, due to the high level of fire danger across the state.(Check out our earlier blog post about the hazards of wildfire and tips to remember when you're doing chores, etc. outside this summer season.)

Learn what else you can do to help protect your home and property. Check out some simple steps for creating more defensible space around your house, and learn what you can do before a wildfire burns near your area, what you can do when a wildfire is close by, and steps to take after a wildfire has been contained.

The Firewise communities map has been updated to include California and Texas community boundaries. To activate the boundary layers click on the layers link in the orange ribbon above the map. Check the below map to see whether or not you are located within one of these Firewise Communities/USA sites.  To learn more about the USAA policyholder discounts in California visit this Firewise webpage.


View Larger Map 

  South Canyon Fire - July 2014

Storm King Mountain sits a few miles northwest of the city of Glenwood Springs, Colorado, a picturesque place rich in scenic beauty and history; and the site of the 1994 South Canyon Fire that tragically took the lives of 14 wildland firefighters. It’s a fire that many say changed wildland firefighting forever. 

Two years ago my husband and I set out to hike Storm King. I’ve wanted to make the hike for as many years as I can remember after hearing dozens of friends and coworkers share their experience of making the emotion-filled trek up the steep terrain. The Memorial Trail was built by volunteers as a tribute to the men and women who perished July 6, 1994.

As we left the parking lot, and started down the path towards the trailhead we came upon interpretive signage honoring the fourteen men and women that perished on that summer day twenty years ago. Each life honored with an individual tribute featuring a photo and details of their short-lived lives highlighting who they were and where they were from. It was a very somber stop and as I wiped the tears away we continued upward with the names and faces of each repeatedly running thru my head throughout the entire hike. They included the Prineville Hotshots from Oregon all in their 20’s:  Kathi Beck – 24; Tami Bickett – 25; Scott Blecha – 27; Levi Brinkley – 22; Doug Dunbar – 22; Terri Hagen – 28; Bonnie Holtby – 21; Rob Johnson – 26; Jon Kelso – 27, and in addition to the Prineville group were smokejumpers Don Mackey – 34; Roger Roth – 31 and Jim Thrash – 44 and helitack crew members Robert Browning – 28 and Richard Tyler – 33.  I kept telling my husband Paul that for me their young ages somehow made it even more tragic; many the same ages as our own three kids. The pain of their families and friends is completely unimaginable!

Signage along the route details events of the South Canyon Fire and wildland firefighting. At about a mile up the trail sits an observation point where you can see across the ridge to where the firefighters were working that day. This is the point where we made a decision to turn around due to threatening lightning, but had we been able to continue we would have come upon the memorials left behind to remember the fallen. Items like baseball caps, fire department t-shirts and patches, scarves and other memorabilia left by those paying tribute. Further down the trail are memorial sites with crosses placed where each firefighter lost their lives.

Early in the morning on this Sunday, around 300 relatives of the fallen firefighters will make the trip up the memorial trail to the site of the fire, where 14 crosses stand in the place where each died; and at 5 p.m. following an engine procession a ceremony will be held in Glenwood’s Two Rivers Park. 

If you're ever traveling down I-70 west of Glenwood Springs make sure you stop and pay tribute to the fourteen fallen firefighters and keep thier families and friends in your thoughts. 

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In the rustic region of Norphlet, AR lies a tightly-knit community full of people concerned for the well-being of their town. Being surrounded by tall pine trees and rolling grassy fields presents a very real threat of wildfire, something the neighborhood decided to address when they became a recognized Firewise community in 2004. Since then, citizens of Norphlet have responded to a variety of natural disasters, including raging storms and even tornados. Thanks to their extensive mitigation efforts in response to these events, Norphlet has earned their place as one of five winners of the 2013 Firewise Challenge, receiving $5,000 to put towards future Firewise efforts thanks to the generous support of State Farm, NFPA’s partner in the Firewise Challenge.

To learn more about how the Norphlet community became a winner of the Firewise Challenge, read their full story here!

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