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2014

FLASHconferenceI'm excited to have a place on the agenda at the annual conference of the Federal Alliance for Safe Homes, better known as FLASH. The Florida-based national non-profit is the country’s leading consumer advocate for strengthening homes and safeguarding families from natural and manmade disasters - sounds like a mission that NFPA can live with!

This year's conference theme, "A Resilience Revolution," seemed to fit right in with what I'm seeing these days with wildfire preparedness and community resilience. People aren't buying the same old conventional wisdom that there's nothing they can do about natural hazards and that disaster and destruction are inevitable. Through programs like Firewise and Fire Adapted Communities, and thanks to research from the USDA Forest Service, the National Institute of Standards & Technology, and the Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety, revolutionary ideas have burst through the noise to make a real difference in home and community safety. 

I'll be on an august panel of presenters talking about innovative approaches to designing resilient communities. The title "Before the Hammer" makes me happy - it means we are thinking about location, siting and infrastructure before building in harm's way, to design the safest and most resilient homes and communities possible. 

While much of the work in wildfire preparedness for homeowners is "after the hammer," in other words, what we can do if our homes are already vulnerable, I am looking forward to learning and sharing with other participants what we can do before the disaster is on our doorstep to make the future safer for all.

Ready to join the resilience revolution? Come to the conference November 19-21 in Orlando - registration is discounted through September 19.

I was so happy to see the latest article in USA Today that credits wildfire mitigation activities/strategies and Firewise principles with helping to keep homes safer from wildfire.

Here at NFPA, we do a lot of work to provide information, resources and guidance to residents just like you, on ways to reduce wildfire risk in their communities. That's why a particular line in the article really stood out for me: "Increasingly, homeowners and communities are seeing the benefits of such strategies, and they're joining voluntary programs such as the National Fire Protection Association's Firewise Communities." For those of us here at NFPA, that is exactly what we want to hear.

Over the last couple of weeks, ironcially enough, I have been talking about the great number of benefits your community receives when it becomes a recognized Firewise/USA site. I realize it's not always easy to see the fruits of your labor up close and immediately, but this USA Today article was the perfect complement to what I've mentioned and highlights how even the little things can make a big difference. For instance, you'll learn about a couple in Washington who found their home still standing after a fire burned through their area. They say it wasn't just luck, but rather they credit all of the work they did ahead of the fire, to helping keep their home intact.

So, if you're still wondering what you can do to help keep yourself, your family and your home safer from wildfire, may I suggest you read the article, then hop on over to the Firewise website to learn more. We have a whole host of community stories you can read and learn from, as well as tips and project ideas for around your home and yard. Be the next person on your block to work on mitigation projects at home, and gather your friends and neighbors together and be the NEXT recognized Firewise community in your area.

Have additional questions, don't hesitate to contact us. We're here to help and are with you all the way! When you've become a recognized Firewise/USA site, tell us your story, because you never know, we may just write an article about you, too! Fire

As you've probably heard me say before, I thought it would be great to share with all of you, NFPA's list of the "Top 7 Benefits to Becoming Firewise." It's been a tough season this year, especially in the west where states are experiencing severe drought, and increased and intense wildfires across the region. So, I say, what the heck, what are we all waiting for? C'mon one and all, there's no better time than now to start working on ways to reduce our neighborhood's wildfire risk and become a recognized Firewise/USA site! Won't you join us? Peace

With a blast of a trumpet, I introduce the third benefit to becoming Firewise. It's great, and one that I know will mean a lot to all residents out there in high-risk wildfire areas. (hint: take a look at the image to your right.)

Now read the benefit below then head to our Firewise site for more information about wildfire safety mitigation and the Firewise recognition program. Interested in the other benefits? Check out my first and second blog posts that reference some of the other great reasons why being Firewise is so important! 

Benefit # 3:  Peace of Mind
People who work with experts to learn about wildfire and take action, start to see results quickly. Knowing that they are using the best information available and actually taking steps to reduce the risk of damage from fire helps people start to feel safer in their environment and in their homes. Having a plan for what to do in the event of a fire helps people become calmer and more prepared to act quickly.

Tell us how being Firewise has given you and your neighbors more peace of mind. We'd love to share your story with others who are working to reduce their wildfire risk and heading towards their recognition status, Give us a holler today!

Wyoming photo of Idaho garden - 8.26.14                              Photo Credit:  Darin Oswald - Idaho Statesman

Yesterday Betsey Nickerson with the Laramie County Wyoming Firewise Program told me about a Firewise Garden they’re developing at a new visitor center located in Kurt Gowdy State Park. The endeavor is a cooperative effort of the state park, state forestry, their local Firewise program, and the University of Wyoming. The park is located 24 miles west of Cheyenne and 24 miles east of Laramie. 

As part of the planning phase for the addition to the park, she’s looking for examples of Firewise gardens or demonstration sites that have been completed in other states. They hope to start the project this fall and complete the planting in the spring.  Betsey welcomes your creative ideas, photos and interpretive signage examples - send them to her at laramiecountyfirewise@gmail.com.


Lake Camelot - WI pictureWisconsin – the home of the Green Bay Packers, Mark Ruffalo and cheese hats, is quite possibly one of the most beautiful states I’ve ever had the pleasure of visiting. 46 percent of Wisconsin’s land is covered by forest and it contains 15,074 documented lakes.

One of these lakes, Lake Camelot in Adams County, is almost smack dab in the middle of Wisconsin. A man-made lake, the surrounding green areas are filled with red oaks, jack pines and white oaks. However the jack pines have reached their full growth and are slowly dying, and the oaks are infected by the fungal disease Oak Wilt. The dead and dying trees coupled with the fact that there have been severe drought conditions in the last few years, has resulted in Lake Camelot becoming an extreme fire hazard.

Then in 2006, the Lake Camelot Property Owners Association (LCPOA) formed a Firewise committee. They worked on crafting a plan with Firewise Communities/USA and the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources representative. The plan was to get the Firewise Committee to grant permits to clean out an area. For this, the state DNR Firewise representatives conducted a survey to pinpoint the high-risk areas. This survey proved Lake Camelot would be eligible for a grant to start a Firewise program.

Volunteers worked tirelessly as they chain-sawed branches into sizes that were more realistic to carry, hauled wood to the recycle center and drug out dead and dying wood, all in an effort to clean up a trial area of only five acres. They also had three residents complete major Firewise projects to reduce their personal risk of wildfire. All their hard work paid-off in August 2007, when Lake Camelot, Chester Addition received recognition. Following in their footsteps, the residents of Lake Camelot, Cadbury Addition; Lake Camelot, Cranbrook Addition; Lake Camelot, Falk Addition; and Lake Camelot, Excalibur Addition all took up clean-up initiatives and received recognition.

Read more about Lake Camelot’s clean-up initiatives and how they became Firewise on their success page!

And not just that, there is also another community in Wisconsin who is Firewise. Read about Crystal Lake Club!

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Posted by hyltonhaynes Employee Aug 26, 2014

2014 BYB Conf Banner 2015small
The deadline is fast approaching! Session proposals are due for the 2015 Backyards & Beyond conference in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina by this Friday, August 29. Got an idea but you're not sure where it fits in the schedule? The areas below can help:

  • Community Safety Approaches and Strategies
  • Home Construction & Landscape Design
  • Research (Physical, Social, Ecology and Environmental)
  • Technology, Policy & Regulations
  • Wildfire Planning, Suppression & Operations

Submit your proposal through our online system by Friday, August 29 to secure your spot. The conference runs from October 22 - 24. Learn more on NFPA's Backyards & Beyond conference webpage.

Redding Fire Department officials said a homeowner’s foresight prevented a home vegetation fire last week, from growing out of control.

HIZCrews quickly knocked down the fire that started after a eucalyptus branch knocked down power lines near the property, Battalion Chief Steve Reilly said. The fire burned a 50-foot swatch of dry grass on the property. Reilly said that the homeowner's efforts to keep dry grass cut around the home prevented the fire from spreading to the building.

“It definitely helped reduce the threat to the homeowner,” Reilly said. “We’re glad he took those precautions.”

Gallegos maintained the space around his home throughout the summer, fearing drought conditions and the risk a fire could pose to his home. He plans to remove the trees surrounding the property to prevent them from becoming ensnared in the electric lines again. Learn more about some basic Firewise principles that can help to reduce your home's risk from wildfire. 

Homeowners should have about 100 feet of defensible space around their homes, according to California law. Firewise has further information on the "home ignition zone" which includes different criteria and suggestions for the spaces 30, 100 and up to 200 feet around your home. Helping to maintain this defensible space around your home can help to reduce your wildfire risk, as well as reduce the risk wildfire may pose to firefighters who work to protect the neighborhood. 

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Doddridge Fire Department in Miller County recently renewed their Firewise status for 2014. Way to go guys!
 
Has your community renewed its Firewise recognition status for 2014 yet? Doddridge, Arkansas was proud to do so recently! Log in at Firewise.org to update your community's status for the year.
 

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 I'm very excited to announce the third installment in our four-part series of Firewise Virtual Workshops will feature author and researcher Linda Masterson, as the guest presenter. If you've never heard Masterson speak, you'll want to add this one to your calendar and register today!  Her personal account of losing her home in a 2011 wildfire will have you retelling the story and sharing her impactful messages with neighbors, friends, and family members living in areas with a wildfire risk.

Last November I got to hear Linda when she was a part of a three-person keynote panel at NFPA’s Backyards & Beyond conference in Salt Lake City. While I listened to her presentation that day, I glanced around the room filled with hundreds of attendees intently listening to her compelling message and plea to get prepared. Many were furiously jotting down notes as she spoke, and others were leaning forward in their seats as they heard her recount the events she lived through during the fire that destroyed her home and property; along with the harrowing details of their evacuation and how she and her husband rebuilt their lives during the recovery and rebuilding phases.

She shares the importance of both mitigation and preparedness actions in a testimonial style that is truly engaging. The messages she advocates for will move folks to take action and responsibility for reducing their personal risk and getting prepared.

The workshop is Tuesday, September 16, at 11am, mountain daylight time. Registration for the no-charge Get Prepared, Stay Alive, Rebuild Your Life session is now open and limited to the first 100 registrants. 

Registrants for this session will receive a complimentary copy of the Surviving Wildfire Pocket Guide, a companion to Masterson’s Surviving Wildfire: Get Prepared, Stay Alive, Rebuild Your Life (A Handbook for Homeowners)Participation in the live workshop is limited and preregistration is required!   

The topic compliments September’s National Preparedness Month campaign: Be Disaster Aware, Take Action to Prepare. Invite your friends, family members and neighbors living in a wildfire risk area to participate and promote this opportunity in your newsletters and websites.

Masterson’s book Surviving Wildfire – Get Prepared, Stay Alive, Rebuild Your Life is a comprehensive guide that will motivate residents to become better prepared; and provide professionals with information they can use in their outreach and education efforts.  

Visit firewise.org to register, or access the recorded workshop following the live session.  

Last week, the Firewise Program enjoyed spending time with the Texas A&M Forest Service staff at Fire Rescue International 2014 in Dallas, Texas.  FRI 2014, hosted by the International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC), brought together chief fire officers from around the country and internationally to learn about advances in emergency services, and in our case, wildfire risk in the communities they serve.  Firewise exhibited at the 2-day trade show along with members of the Fire Adapted Communities Coalition and Texas A&M Forest Service.

FRI14 Texas FS w LD CBThe Firewise Program is grateful for the ongoing work by Nick Harrison, Firewise Coordinator for the State of Texas, and Steven Deffinbaugh, Resource Specialist I, seen at right with NFPA’s Cheryl Blake and myself.

We also got to spend time with Bobette Mauck, emergency management assistant with the Lucas Fire Department and coordinator for the City of Lucas, Texas, Firewise program, seen at right, below.  Recognized since 2012, Lucas supports volunteer mitigation work around the community and has hosted successful Firewise community days that provided beneficial educational outreach to residents with Smokey Bear and fire department open house events. FRI14 Texas FS group photo cropped3

We thank all those with Texas A&M Forest Service, its Mitigation & Prevention department, Nick, Steven, and Bobette for the support they give to Firewise and the work they do every day serving those at risk to wildfire in Texas. 

The recently released “Guide to Fire Adapted Communities” – created by the Fire Adapted Community Coalition – highlights in its chapter 4, planning and regulatory considerations that can make a difference in a community at risk to wildfire.  It also highlights the beneficial role urban planners can play in a Fire Adapted Community and the communication that should occur between local groups. Integrated approaches in FAC p22 FACRG image  

I've enjoyed learning about this effort from Leigh Kane, senior planner with Horry County, South Carolina, Planning and Zoning Department.  She recently shared with me that, “Like other natural hazards, wildfires do not respect political or jurisdictional boundaries. It’s extremely important for local governments to coordinate internally and with neighboring municipalities and state agencies as they develop planning, regulatory, and response strategies to address these potential hazards.”

To advance that beneficial communication, Leigh explained that, “Horry County Planning & Zoning is working with the SC Forestry Commission and the Horry County Fire Department as they develop Community Wildfire Protection Plans for numerous neighborhoods that are seeking their Firewise designation.” 

She went onto highlight that, “By doing so, we are learning about the challenges that first responders and residents experience when they are faced with a wildfire. It’s helping our department better understand how our development guidelines influence evacuation efforts and the ability of firefighters to access and combat the wildfire itself.”

Learn more about Fire Adapted Communities and the role urban planners can play in making their community’s safer from wildfire

As I mentioned last week, I thought it would be great to share with all of you, NFPA's "Top Seven Benefits to Becoming Firewise." Given the intensity of this season's fire activity, there's no better time than now to start working on ways to reduce your neighborhood's wildfire risk.

Full disclosure, these are not benefits that we, the Firewise program administrators told people to say,rather, they come straight out of the mouths of people like you - members of recognized Firewise communities who want to share their success and belief for the program. As I whole heartedly believe, what better way to learn about Firewise and wildfire safety than from others like youself who have gone through the process and can tell us what they've learned. So, without further hesitation, here’s the second benefit on our list:

LearningLearning About Wildfire
As people go through the Firewise process, they learn about wildfire risks in the community and the simple things they can do to reduce them. As we've always talked about, Firewise doesn't have to be a complicated process nor does it have to cost a lot of money. In all honesty, it's the simple things that really do help to make a difference. Along with these, residents also connect with experts – local fire fighters, state forestry professionals, and national researchers – to continue to learn about fire and find resources to accomplish (their) Firewise actions. Residents, by working with experts and with each other, will soon see that they can play a great role in helping reduce their risk for wildfire damage and injuries. 

So, take a moment and do some research. Check out our Firewise website and talk to your neighbors. Connect with those wildfire experts in your area who can work with you and help educate you on Firewise principles and creating a fire adapted community.Our list of Firewise state liaisons is a great place to start. Stay tuned next week for our next Firewise benefit! 

 

!http://nfpa.typepad.com/.a/6a00d8351b9f3453ef01a73e0410b0970d-800wi|border=0|src=http://nfpa.typepad.com/.a/6a00d8351b9f3453ef01a73e0410b0970d-800wi|alt=Cypress_knoll_1|width=363|style=margin: 0px 5px 5px 0px;|title=Cypress_knoll_1|class=asset asset-image at-xid-6a00d8351b9f3453ef01a73e0410b0970d img-responsive|height=275!As someone who grew up spending her Sundays watching her father practice his already perfect backswing on the golf course, writing about the Cypress Knoll community was wonderfully nostalgic.


Cypress Knoll, located in Florida, is a golf community with around a thousand homes. But just a little more than a decade ago, the Cypress Knoll community was sparsely populated. The vacant lots were filled with mature pine trees and dense, seemingly uncontrollable undergrowth.


During a particularly dry season in 1998, Flagler County and their neighboring areas had a major wildfire that caused the evacuation of Palm Coast. A fire alert was issued for Cypress Knoll, but they were, thankfully, spared from the fire.


After this scare, a few Cypress Knoll residents held a meeting to discuss alerting members and how to evacuate the residents should a major fire occur. With the looming threat of wildfires they contacted the Flagler County Sheriff’s Department and Palm Coast City officials for help. 


They, along with the Florida Division of Forestry, developed a plan of action. Their plan was introduced to the rest of the community residents with a hands-on demonstration. A Firewise committee was formed and an action plan was created.


 

Find out about was included in the action plan and how it was executed on Cypress Knoll’s success page.


 

Cypress Knoll isn’t the only community from Florida with Firewise success stories. Read each of theirs below!


Briargate

Harbor Isles

Lakewood

Muse

Pioneer Plantation

Placid Lakes

River Camps

SummerCamp

Verandah

Wedgefield

Woodland Estates</li> </ul>

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

  • An article published in National Geographic that highlights how (even) the small steps, including the principles of Firewise, can help save homes from wildfire
  • A link to two NFPA-hosted webinars; the August webinar focuses on mulch combustibility, and the September webinar discusses how to prepare for wildfire beyond home landscaping
  • A link to a new webpage on the Firewise site that features artwork from kids from around the country who have expressed their feelings about wildfire and fire safety
  • A perspective on America’s wildfire strategy from a leader in the world of environmental history …

… 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.

Firefighter_LandingPage
In a recent article in the online magazine Fire Fighter Nation, Chief Rich Cowger of the Columbus (Montana) Fire Rescue Department provides a compelling argument for fire departments to pay attention to wildfire, regardless of whether they are east or west of the Mississippi.

Chief Cowger recognizes that "the wildland/urban interface," is not a place on the map but a set of conditions that can exist almost anywhere. "WUI is no longer limited to isolated homes in the woods, but rather whole developments, neighborhoods and communities, whether situated on the mountains of Wyoming, the plains of Nebraska, or the Florida peninsula," he states.

A long-time member of the IAFC Wildland Fire Policy Committee, Chief Cowger calls on his fellow fire service leaders to re-examine their assumptions about wildfire and wildland/urban interface development. In particular, he urges departments to train members to deal with wildfire as it may impact homes in their communities. His examples from Pigeon Forge, Tennessee and other places serve as a sober reminder that nature's fire can drastically affect our human-made environments. These examples also bear out NFPA's research in its 3rd Needs Assessment of the US Fire Service, which found in 2010 that nearly 60% of all fire departments dealing with wildfire had not fully trained all involved personnel. 

Read Chief Cowger's article here. Fire service personnel and others seeking to improve their understanding of wildland/urban interface fire, using water effectively, and fighting WUI fire safely can check out NFPA's free educational resources on our online catalog of materials or in our Firewise online training site.  NFPA's Assessing Wildfire Hazards in the Home Ignition Zone is available as a live classroom training for those who want to take the next steps in becoming savvy about wildfire risk reduction.

Jobs
Do you want to make a difference? We have an ideal opportunity for the Division Manager of our Wildland Fire Operations working from our Denver, CO office. This person will be responsible for developing and implementing multiple long and short term programs that support Association goals. They will be responsible for overseeing the creation of well-designed programs, products, services and outreach activities that empower people to take positive action to prevent fire and injury and maintaining NFPA’s integrity and leadership in wildland fire protection, nationally and internationally.

The ideal candidate will have 10+ years’ experience in management, fire protection, wildland fire, public administration, or the equivalent as well as a minimum of 10 years fire service or related experience in increasingly responsible roles. 

To learn more about the position's responsibilities and requirements, take a look at our careers website. From there, you can also apply to the job. 

During the last few years, with the number and intensity of wildfires increasing in many parts of the country, it’s more important than ever to begin working on ways to reduce your risk of damage and injuries from these fires. NFPA believe that Firewise can help you do that. But just as each part of the country is unique, every community benefits in different ways from being recognized as a Firewise Communities/USA site.  SC

Reports of these important and varied benefits have reached NFPA’s Firewise program through the years and we thought it would be great to share them with you.

Over the next few days, check back to this blog to learn about our  “Top 7 Benefits to Becoming Firewise” posts. What better way to learn about Firewise and wildfire safety than from others like you who have gone through the process and have shared their stories. Especially if this is new for you. Here’s the first benefit on our list:

Creating a Framework for Action

It can be overwhelming at the beginning when you first decide to make a step towards becoming a Firewise community. But the process can be made a whole lot easier when everyone comes together to create a plan. Meeting the criteria for becoming a Firewise Communities/USA site helps communities get organized and find direction for their wildfire safety efforts. Like the first rungs on a ladder, the criteria help get a community started toward annual, systematic action to reduce their risks from brush, grass and forest fires. Ultimately, the plan you put into action today can help your community be better adapted and prepared for wildfire tomorrow.

Want to know more? We have many, many success stories shared by residents like you who worked together to become Firewise. You can find them on our Firewise website on the “success stories” page. Take a look and then let us know what your community is doing to obtain Firewise recognition status. We’d love to share your story with others who are new to the process, and looking for guidance.

Photo courtesy of the community of Keowee Key, South Carolina

If you're out and about in Boise, make a visit to the Idaho Botanical Garden nearby the Old Penitentiary Historic District. Among the beautiful plants and attractive landscapes, you'll find a wonderful Firewise Garden established via a partnership among the Idaho Botanical Garden, Bureau of Land Management, and the College of Western Idaho’s Horticulture Program.

A recent KTVB segment highlighted the Firewise Garden by interviewing Brett Van Paepeghem, a horticulture expert and the Firewise Garden manager. "It's like a living database," says Brett about the many plants catalogued in the garden for their relative fire safety. Check out the interview and the garden here

1407931704000-FirewiseGarden

PerryPark1Perry Park in Colorado is no stranger to devastating wildfires. The community, with a population of less than 2,000 people and over 600 homes, was evacuated during the Hayman Fire of 2002.

The Hayman Fire is considered the largest of the Colorado wildfires in the state’s recorded history. There were hundreds of firefighters who fought the fast-moving fire, it would indirectly and directly be the reason for six deaths, caused nearly $40 million in firefighting costs and forced the evacuation of 5,340 people.

In 2000, the board of directors of the Perry Park Metropolitan District took it upon themselves to address the potential wildfire problem. They received a Colorado State Fire Assistance Grant of $45,000 in order for the community to become more Firewise. The following year they received a second grant of $100,000.  

They created the Perry Park Firewise program. The community was surveyed and an overwhelming number of people told the board that wildlife and forest were as important to them as their homes.

The first part of the program was the educational and informational efforts. The board used the message of “Saving the Forest=Saving the Wildfire=Protecting Property Values=Being Firewise” to raise awareness. The second part of the program is slash disposal that works for the community. The amount of fuel that was treated in 2002 was triple what was treated in 2001.

Read more about Perry Park in their success page.

And more than that, there are other communities in Colorado that took the initiative to becoming Firewise. Read about them on their page.

Cordillera

Deer Creek Valley Ranchos

Genesee

Majestic Park and Forest Edge County Ridge Estates

Windcliff

Woodmoor

Join NFPA in wishing Smokey Bear a very happy birthday! Tomorrow, Smokey turns 70 and he has a lot to be proud of. Below is an infographic he created to show what he's been up to all this time.

In the meantime, check out Smokey's website to learn more about his quest to help stop the spread of wildfires. The site includes activities, resources and more. Happy Birthday, Smokey Bear!

Smokey Bear

“Those of us that live in the looming shadow of wildfire are bracing for dangerous and destructive times ahead. The financial and environmental impacts of wildfire are potentially massive, posing a serious threat to property, infrastructure, watersheds, human health and safety, wildlife, habitats, and local economies,” this according to author Sara Gutterman who posted a blog titled, “The Frontlines of Climate Change:  Wildfire” for GreenBuilder Media, a leading media company in the North American residential building industry focused exclusively on green building and responsible growth. Beetle

Gutterman highlights in her post a kind of “circle of life” when it comes to wildfire and our environment…for instance, how climate change and our unusually hot, dry summers and mild winters in the west have contributed to the severity of the beetle outbreak. And as many of us who live in the west know, this infestation of beetles has led to more of our trees dying, which then leads to more dead fuel in our forests, which then ultimately contributes to the severity of wildfires.

Read the blog post, which delves into more of the science behind climate change and the effects on wildfire. Let us know what’s happening in your neck of the woods. If you live in a wildfire-prone area, what is your community doing to raise awareness of this growing wildfire problem. Have you seen this infestation of beetles take hold of your forests? 

For more information about what you can do to help mitigate risk, check out our Fire Adapted Communities website, which provides resources and information for every member of the community who wants to make a difference when it comes to wildfire safety. NFPA’s Firewise website is also a helpful resource for homeowners who also want to start a neighborhood-wide effort to prepare ahead of a wildfire and ultimately reduce their risk. 

 

!http://nfpa.typepad.com/.a/6a00d8351b9f3453ef01a511f13f08970c-800wi|border=0|src=http://nfpa.typepad.com/.a/6a00d8351b9f3453ef01a511f13f08970c-800wi|alt=Ca_bigbearlake1|width=379|style=margin: 0px 5px 5px 0px;|title=Ca_bigbearlake1|class=asset asset-image at-xid-6a00d8351b9f3453ef01a511f13f08970c img-responsive|height=248!It’s already August. Which means, sadly, we have only one more month of summer! So to raise my spirits I thought I’d write about sunny California for this week’s post.


The Big Bear Valley, a small city of about only 5,000 people in San Bernardino County, California, is known for its gold mining, logging, ranching, fox farm, movie shoots and Grizzly bears.


Thankfully, Big Bear Valley hasn’t been affected by large fires in over 107 years. But that also means the area has accumulated 107 years’ worth of forest fuels which if ignited could cause a fire difficult to contain.


Over 60% of the National Forest right next to the City of Big Bear Lake is a Condition Class 3, is densely populated with trees and filled with millions of dead trees. And in 2001, the city was listed in the Federal Register as a Community at Risk of a wildfire.


So in July 2006, the City of Big Bear Lake City Council voted to authorize the Mayor to sign the Big Bear Valley Community Wildfire Protection Plan, which was entitled a “Systems Approach.” The plan included the need to replace old shake shingle roofs, removing dead leaves and to conduct fuel reduction on private properties.


 

Find out how their Chipper Day was and read more of Big Bear Lake’s story.


California actually has other communities that have become Firewise and each of their stories are unique and as interesting as the next.


Show your support by reading their stories!


Alta Sierra

Auburn Lake Trails

Beverly Hills

Forest Meadows

Grizzly Flats

Talmadge

Whiting Woods

Yankee Hill</li> </ul>

Sweden
A wildfire surging across central Sweden in Vastmanland province, some 90 miles northwest of Stockholm, is being called the worst forest fire in Sweden’s modern history, burning more than 60 square miles, according to news reports. Unfortunately, one man has reportedly died in the fire.

As northern Europe continues to struggle through a heat wave, firefighters are having a tough time controlling the fire, and officials there say that it could take weeks or even months to fully extinguish the flames.

About 1,000 people have been evacuated.

Kristalina Georgieva, the European Union Commissioner for International Cooperation, Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Response, has told news reporters that forest fires are normally associated with southern Europe, but with this recent incident, talk has shifted to the fact that wildfire knows no boundaries.

NFPA has been well aware that wildfire risk to people and property is a growing problem around the world. To meet some of the challenges, NFPA is working closely with countries including Canada, South Africa, the United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand, to expand outreach and collaborate on a common goal of reducing the losses associated with wildfire. Read more about wildfire safety efforts around the globe on NFPA’s “international partnerships” webpage.  

CA
Two fires burning in northeast California have forced hundreds of residents to evacuate. One of the fires has destroyed eight homes in the town of Burney in Shasta County, and has also prompted the evacuation of a small long-term care hospital, according to news reports. Both fires appear to have been started by lightning. Meanwhile, in sharp contrast to the fires up north, flashflooding in southern California has left thousands of people stranded and damaged many homes.  

Fire officials say the two fires are among some 14 fires now burning across central and northern California. Together, they have burned more than 183 square miles of dried out timber and brush caused by the serious drought conditions across the state.

State fire spokesperson, Dennis Mathisen, tells news outlets that California is 35% above average in the number of fires it’s seen so far this year, and is 44% above average in the amount of land burned. Much of the state remains under a red flag warning, and Governor Jerry Brown has declared a state of emergency, calling for additional help in combatting the fires.

For residents who may have to evacuate, NFPA provides important tips on what to bring with you, and how to prepare your home before you leave. Check out our "before, during and after" wildfire safety page for more information.

One of my NFPA colleagues this morning pointed out this interesting article from CBS/San Francisco Bay Area news. It states that on this, the one-year anniversary of a fire that has burned across forest land in and around Yosemite National Park, there is what ecologists, researchers and fire experts call, a “barren moonscape” in the Sierra Nevada mountains (that is) larger than any burned in centuries. Rim

The Yosemite Rim Fire has burned more than 400 square miles, and 60 square miles of it has burned so intensely that it has actually killed a number of trees and other vegetation. Some ecologists have referred to this piece of land as “dead,” and as hard as this is to believe, the future existence and growth of particular types of wildlife and plants is uncertain.

What's causing this problem? According to the article, the increased growth of dead and downed trees and vegetation, a warming climate, drought and our current suppression practices, have all led to a greater intensity of wildfires to date.

Take a look at the article, and let us know what you think. If you live in the area, what have you seen happening over the the last year? What are your thoughts on the state of wildfires in the west? Share you story with us on Facebook or start a conversation on NFPA's wildfire LinkedIn subgroup page. We're always happy to hear from you.

  Core Logic Report - Aug 1 2014Graphic Credit:  Severiano Galvan - Denver Post

Some interesting charts caught my eye while perusing a recent issue of the Denver Post newspaper and I wanted to share them with you. The article they were from was: Colorado leads country for share of homes most vulnerable to wildfires with content from the 2013 Wildfire Hazard Risk Report – Residential Wildfire Exposure Estimates for the Western U.S., developed by CoreLogic®, a real estate analytics company.  

The report looks at residential properties potentially exposed to wildfire risk in 13 western states and evaluates them using four risk levels (low, moderate, high and very high), along with the estimated value of at risk single-family residences. It also includes a summary of properties at risk and their home values by individual state, with a look at risk and damage potential in seven metropolitan areas.

According to the report, more than 200,000 homes in Colorado are highly vulnerable to wildfires; which represents more than 10% of homes in the state (the highest ratio in any state). Those homes with a high-risk have an estimated value of more than $38 billion. The next most exposed states are Montana at 9.1% and Oregon at 8%. But in dollar terms, Texas and California have the most property vulnerable to wildfire.  

Both the Denver Post article and the CoreLogic report have some great data, trends and projections that describe the scope of the wildfire landscape in the west. 

The latest edition of the USDA Forest Service’s Fire Management Today magazine has been released and focuses on “Being Prepared” with Fire Adapted Communities.FMT cover photo 

Many of its articles were written by Fire Adapted Community Coalition members and highlight the roles of community & public safety; the work of the insurance industry and IBHS in home preparedness research; the use of “learning networks” for FAC understanding; case studies; and forest service mapping resources; among other issues. 

To learn more about FAC and these various tools for success, visit the Fire Adapted Communities website and the latest edition of Fire Management Today magazine

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