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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. 

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