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2015

Recently, I represented NFPA in developing a brand new award that recognizes outstanding efforts in proactive wildfire safety throughout the U.S. The 2015 Wildfire Mitigation Awards are a collaborative effort among NFPA, the National Association of State Foresters (NASF), the International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC), and the USDA Forest Service. I got together with my fellow committee members in December to help choose the winners, who will be presented their awards in March at the IAFC WUI Conference in Reno, Nevada.

The 21 individuals and organizations winning the award are being honored for their efforts in superlative fire protection in their communities. The award consists of three categories, including Fire Adapted Communities Fire Service Leadership, Wildfire Mitigation Innovation and Community Wildfire Preparedness Pioneer. These awards are designed to recognize those who show outstanding service in wildfire preparedness and safety and stands as the highest national honor in wildfire preparedness and mitigation. Read the release for the full list of winners, and check out this local news coverage for a group that was honored in South Dakota!

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BigBurn
As my blogger friend Bill Gabbert relates in his Wildfire Today blog, back when PBS advertised this special in September, "there was much confusion about when it would air, with most of  the erroneous information coming from the PBS website." All indications today, however, are that the special based on Timothy Egan's bestseller, "The Big Burn," will air as planned at 9 pm EST next Tuesday, February 3.

As I noted in my September 9 blog, Egan's book really helped me understand the roots of American wildland fire suppression policy and forest management in a new way. The special will document the 1910 fire complex that burned more than three million acres and killed 78 firefighters. More than a mere tale of nature's wrath, the story of this particular fire shows the ramifications and results set into national policy that would influence a century of thought and action on fire suppression and land management.

Check local listings here to watch and experience this truly American experience of wildfire. You can also tell your own story of disaster survival through the American Experience website.

MaineFlagI am in South Portland, Maine, waiting to set up the NFPA booth at a conference being hosted by the Northeastern Forest Fire Protection Commission, a group of fire managers, program managers and wildland firefighters from the New England States, New York, Quebec, The Maritime Provinces, Newfoundland, Labrador and the New England National Forests. This is their “Winter Awareness Meeting”.  It is being held at the Best Western Merry Manor Inn.

Despite blizzard conditions with wind gusts of 40 mph and 14.8 inches of snow so far, they are in the ready to share information and the latest research to help ensure a safer fire season.  Snow-nados twirl outside but inside the focus will be on fire prevention.  Their determination to work through these conditions speaks highly of their concern for their fellow wildland firefighters, their local communities and the region's natural resources.

SnowwhirlHigh winds are also an influencing factor in the intensity and spread of wildland fires.  Now while winter winds and precipitation are in the headlines, let us work together to develop plans and projects to be as prepared for the wildfire season as we are for winter blizzards.

 

Photos of Maine state flag and a view of the meeting hotel in South Portland, Maine, January 27, 2015 - Faith Berry

FW Community 5
This brand new Firewise Community was devastated by a terrible tornado on April 27, 2011.  Concerned citizens from this community collaborated with their local fire district, Jefferson County government officials and the Alabama Forestry Commission to reduce the risk of fire caused by the downed trees and other debris inside and outside the community that contributed to an increased fire risk.  According to a story submitted to Firewise by the community their overall goal was, “to prevent and limit the spread of wildfire in this community and to keep the citizens of North Smithfield Manor Greenleaf Heights Community safe.” FW Community 3

On Saturday October 14, 2014, 150 residents celebrated their first Firewise Day. The fire district, Jefferson County and the Alabama Forestry Commission provided free educational materials, contact information and guidance to the residents of this community on how to create wildfire defensible space around their properties as well as how to revitalize the community to a healthy natural state by replanting native trees that were lost to this devastating storm.

On November 11, 2014, the community in collaboration with the Jefferson County Storm Water Association, Friends of Birmingham Botanical Gardens and the Alabama Forestry Commission planted 176 native trees including a 4 foot tall native oak tree.  The local fire district has assumed short term responsibility for watering and maintaining the trees until they are established.  This resilient community knows how to be Firewise and restore a healthy urban forest.  This amazing event was covered by three local television stations.  If you are interested in learning more about community sucess stories visit the Firewise website. FW Community 4

 

 

 

 

The top picture is from the State of Alabama Forestry Comission website and the two community pictures were submitted by the North Smithfield Manor Greenleaf Heights Firewise Community.

WebinarThere will be a webinar opportunity available on January 27th from 12 to 1:00 p.m. PST. The webinar is presented by Craig Clement from the Fire Weather Research Laboratory at San Jose State University and is titled "Effects of Complex Terrain on Extreme Fire Behavior".  It is being sponsored by the International Association of Wildland Fire, Wildland Fire Lessons Learned Center, and the Joint Fire Science Program.  It will provide a discussion of wind systems in mountainous terrain, modeling fire behavior on slopes, and wind modeling tools.

Registration is on the Fire Research and Management Exchange Website (FRAMES). FRAMES is part of a Wildland Fire Science Partnership that includes the  University of Idaho and the  University of Montana. The partnership was created to develop and deliver knowledge and decision support tools to policymakers, wildland fire managers, and communities.

The picture is from the webinar registration website.

Images of languid late summer heat often come to mind when thinking about wildfires but this past weekend showed that fire risk is a year-round focus, especially in the South.  Fires in Arkansas and Oklahoma have been in the news this week, with Arkansas seeing 86 wildfires burn 1,322 acres of land over the 3 day holiday weekend fueled by dormant vegetation drying quickly with warm temperatures, low humidity and consistent winds. Wildfire Photo Credit KFSM KXNW 5Newsonline.com AR  

I spoke with Kevin Kilcrease, Arkansas Firewise Coordinator with Arkansas Forestry, and he shared that residents should pay close attention to burn bans, and relative humidity before they do any burning. Information on Arkansas burn ban conditions can be found at http://www.arkfireinfo.org/.   

Kevin went onto share that, “a light dusting of rain may not be enough to make a difference.  Firewise principals should be at the forefront of people’s minds at this point in the fire season. Due to the amount of dry dead vegetation that we have in our communities. These fires can start quickly and easily as was demonstrated over the long holiday weekend when several fires were sparked by a motorist dragging metal parts down the highway in Central Arkansas.” 

His stressed that residents should take advantage of the mild weather to remove fuel from around their homes.  For more information and guidance on defensible space you can do, visit Firewise Communities/USA  and Arkansas Firewise.


Photo Credit KFSM KXNW 5Newsonline.com

Wanilla Forest Photo Credit Callum Robertson Adelaidenow.comEarly January marked the 10th anniversary of the “Black Tuesday” bushfires in Southern Australia.  On 5 January 2005, a fire started by a faulty car exhaust ignited roadside vegetation in the Lower Eyre Peninsula, along the coast west of Adelaide, Australia. 

Winds over 55mph drove flames over 16 miles of rural communities in approximatly 20 minutes, eventually consuming over 190,271 acres.  93 homes were destroyed and 47,000 animals died in the fire.  9 people lost their lives.

The local major-daily in Adelaide ran a very poignant article about the community of Wanilla, which shares stories of its victims and the community’s rebuilding efforts since

The community’s story resonates anywhere there is wildfire risk and we can learn from their resiliency. 

Photo Credit: Callum Robertson / Adelaidenow.com

 

!http://nfpa.typepad.com/.a/6a00d8351b9f3453ef01b8d0c14b0b970c-120wi|src=http://nfpa.typepad.com/.a/6a00d8351b9f3453ef01b8d0c14b0b970c-120wi|alt=Dept of Interior|style=margin: 0px 5px 5px 0px;|title=Dept of Interior|class=asset asset-image at-xid-6a00d8351b9f3453ef01b8d0c14b0b970c img-responsive!The areas of concern of thenew Secretarial Order issued by the Department of the Interiorare in the Great Basin Region of Idaho, Utah, Nevada and California.  The plan outlines a new strategy to protect sagebrush lands and the species that inhabit them such as the sage grouse from rangeland fires.  According to the US Department of Interior’s press release dated January 6, 2015; “Goals include reducing the size, severity and cost of rangeland fires, addressing the spread of cheatgrass and other invasive species, and positioning wildland fire management resources for more effective rangeland fire response.”  Secretary Jewell stated; “The Secretarial Order further demonstrates our strong commitment to work with our federal, state, tribal and community partners to reduce the likelihood and severity of rangeland fire, stem the spread of invasive species, and restore the health and resilience of sagebrush ecosystems.”


 

!http://nfpa.typepad.com/.a/6a00d8351b9f3453ef01b8d0c14a91970c-800wi|border=0|src=http://nfpa.typepad.com/.a/6a00d8351b9f3453ef01b8d0c14a91970c-800wi|alt=Rangeland Fire|width=261|style=margin: 0px 0px 5px 5px;|title=Rangeland Fire|class=asset asset-image at-xid-6a00d8351b9f3453ef01b8d0c14a91970c img-responsive|height=360!


The order establishes a Rangeland Task Force of 6 headed by the Deputy Secretary Mike Connor.  This task force will work with other federal agencies, states, tribes, local entities and non-governmental groups on fire management and habitat restoration activities and improve coordination with all affected partners.


At the December 6, 2014, Western Governors’ Association winter meeting, Jewell directed her Department’s leadership to develop a comprehensive strategy to fight rangeland fire with an eye toward protecting rural communities, sagebrush landscapes and habitats essential to the conservation of the sage-grouse and other wildlife.  Secretary Jewell also stated, “To protect these landscapes for economic activity and wildlife like the greater sage-grouse, we need a three-pronged approach that includes strong federal land management plans, strong state plans, and an effective plan to address the threat of rangeland fire.”


How are you planning to make your community safer in the event of a wildfire event? It takes many hands working collaboratively together to create an effective fire prevention plan as we all work toward a “Year of Living Less Dangerously from Wildfire!”


The picture above of a rangeland fire is from the CAL FIRE website.


!http://i.zemanta.com/320512944_80_80.jpg|src=http://i.zemanta.com/320512944_80_80.jpg|alt=|style=margin: 0px; padding: 0px; border: 0px currentColor; width: 80px; display: block; max-width: 100%;!Jewell orders firefighting strategy that protects habitat

Calling all fire departments! The NFPA, as we do every year, has mailed out a paper version of our Fire Experience survey to each of you. We are encouraging your response to this survey as soon as you are able since the fire experience survey is critical for many reasons. This survey directly contributes to the following NFPA reports:

In addition, the survey results enable the NFPA, USFA and CPSC to develop national estimates for fire causes based on the annual National Fire Incident Reporting System (NFIRS) data.

IpadTo help motivate everyone to complete their surveys on time, we are holding a drawing! All Fire Departments that submit a completed Fire Service Experience Form before April 15, 2015 will be eligible for a drawing where 8 Fire Departments will be awarded a 32 GB Wi-Fi IPAD Air and their choice of one of NFPA’s Public Fire Protection Standards!

FYI, there is now also an electronic version of this survey that can be filled out on-line. If you would like to use this electronic option go to: www.nfpa.org/FEsurvey2014 or email us at nfesurvey@nfpa.org stating that you would like to use this option. When responding to the survey on-line, please use the Fire Department identification number that you’ll find on the top line of the address label on the paper survey.

Be sure to take a look at all of those legal terms and conditions. Thanks for your participation and good luck!

faithberry

Plan on making a plan

Posted by faithberry Employee Jan 20, 2015

Are you planning on a “Year of Living Less Dangerously from Wildfire”? Then take a clue from our friends down under in New South Wales, Australia.  Make your plan before the next wildfire event.  Don't get so busy that you ignore the importance of planning to implement Firewise principles! Not doing so can be disastrous for your family.  Make a plan, then take action by embracing sound principles that could be part of your family’s spring cleaning such as:

  1. Moving your wood pile
  2. Cleaning out your gutters
  3. Cleaning underneath your deck
  4. Trimming tree limbs away from your house
  5. Ensuring that the 3 to 5 foot zone around your home is well maintained
  6. Making sure that attachments are Firewise
  7. Making good mulch choices
  8. Removing pine needles and other flammable materials from your roof and decks

 

Fire BreakThe January issue of Fire Break, NFPA’s Wildland Fire Operations Division newsletter, is now available for viewing. Here’s what you’ll find in this month’s issue:

  •  Information about the use of geospatial technology and how it can help with planning for, mitigation of and response to wildfires
  • A quiz that tests your wildfire safety knowledge
  • Information about IAFC’s WUI 2015 conference in Reno
  • A head start on the numbers for Firewise for 2014
  • A link to the WFOD’s updated photo library

...and much 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.

Wildfire cover photo NFPA Journal Jan15 WildfireWatch columnThe January/February NFPA Journal is out and in its latest WildfireWatch column, I reflect on the risk responders face from wildfire.  The tragic line-of-duty death of a wildfire tanker plane pilot fighting a blaze in California last September brings the article into focus.  

For some backstory, A few events over the fall brought the issue of responder safety to the forefront.  This fatal crash, a Firewise virtual workshop we held in October on wildfire from the view of the responder, and a visit I made to the National Wildland Firefighters Monument in October, all reminded me of the great responsibility communities have to address wildfire, not only for their own safety, but also for those who serve and protect them.

According to an article forwarded to me by Michele Steinberg in the Wicked Local Hingham, What you need to know about burning brush in Hingham; Hingham, Massachusetts has a formal permitting process for burning brush in your yard.  The burning season runs from January 15 to May 1.  Issued permits have a one-time fee of $5 per address. Before burning, however, residents are required to call a number that will let them know if the day they are looking at burning on is acceptable due to wind and moisture in the vegetation.  They will also advise against burning on poor air quality days as open burning can contribute to air pollution. HFD_Patch_small

Burning can be a good way to dispose of green waste and invasive, noxious plants so that you don’t spread the seeds.

They had some great rules for properly burning that I thought I would share. But before you burn, check with your local fire authority having jurisdiction or other agencies in charge, because in some areas burning is not permitted and you may have to pay fire suppression costs if your burn pile gets out of control.  In fact, in Massachusetts, it is NEVER legal to have open burning in 22 cities and towns. These are: Arlington, Belmont, Boston, Brookline, Cambridge, Chelsea, Chicopee, Everett, Fall River, Holyoke, Lawrence, Lowell, Medford, New Bedford, Newton, Somerville, Springfield, Waltham, Watertown, West Springfield, and Worcester. See the Massachusetts Department of Fire Services website for more guidelines.

Some of Hingham's rules according to Captain Powers were:

  1. Burning must be at least 75 feet from all dwellings.
  2. Burning may only take place between 10 am and 4 pm.  Permission to burn is shut off at 2 pm and all fires must be extinguished by 4 pm.
  3. Burning must not cause a nuisance to neighbors (in other words talk to your neighbors first!).  All complaints of smoke will be investigated.
  4. Burn in a clear area, free of combustibles.
  5. Have a garden hose ready.  In freezing temperatures stretch the hose line out and keep it uncharged until it is needed.  Make sure you have rakes and forks on hand to tend the fire and to lean on when you become bored with your progress.
  6. The fire must be attended until it is completely extinguished.
  7. The article also mentions that green vegetation only may be burned, no household trash such as tires and lumber may be burned.

The article suggests that burning might be a nice community project.  It is a great way for neighbors to get together before the fire season to do some spring cleaning in their yard and get it all tidy and Firewise.   Check with your local fire authority before you consider using burning to dispose of your branches and weeds.  How does your community dispose of green waste? Burn pile

This is an image from Noise to Signal.com archives of a great way to watch your burn pile until it is fully extinguished or you can lean on your rake! Make sure that you have a water source available.

 

California and Nevada Firesafe Councils and Firewise Communities who are planning on a “Year of Living Less Dangerously from Wildfire” may apply on line for grant funding through the California Fire Safe Council.  According to an announcement from them:


 

“California Fire Safe Council (CFSC) is pleased to announce the opening of its competitive application process for 2015 wildfire prevention grants .  Funding is provided through a master grant to CFSC by the US Forest Service to administer the Grants Clearinghouse program, with CFSC issuing subawards to eligible entities in California and parts of Nevada for the following areas of wildfire prevention:


    • Hazardous fuels reduction and maintenance projects on non-federal land

    • Community Wildfire Protection Plans (CWPP) and other planning or assessment documents

    • Prevention and mitigation education and outreach opportunities for landowners and residents in at risk communities


There is approximately 3 million dollars available for 50/50 cost-share projects in the 2015 program.


Applications are now being accepted until the deadline of February 19, 2015 at 5 p.m. PST online.”


 

If you are a resident of California or Nevada and are interested in applying for grant funding go to the California Firesafe Council’s website to learn more about the grant application process.  Let’s all +plan +on a “Year of Living Less Dangerously from Wildfire.”


 

!http://nfpa.typepad.com/.a/6a00d8351b9f3453ef01b8d0be1c7c970c-800wi|border=0|src=http://nfpa.typepad.com/.a/6a00d8351b9f3453ef01b8d0be1c7c970c-800wi|alt=2015-Clearinghouse-Announcement-Banner-2|title=2015-Clearinghouse-Announcement-Banner-2|class=asset asset-image at-xid-6a00d8351b9f3453ef01b8d0be1c7c970c image-full img-responsive!


The banner is from the California Fire Safe Council's website

 

NFPA and its projects, programs and services will be well-represented at the upcoming IAFC conference, Wildland Urban Interface 2015. We're excited to be delivering our pre-conference two-day seminar, Assessing Wildfire Hazards in the Home Ignition Zone, on March 22-23. Participants will be the first to enjoy our revised course, that will include an opportunity to earn a Certificate of Educational Achievement from NFPA.

On Tuesday the 24th, before the main events begin, NFPA staff will host a "What's New in the WUI" session from 10 to noon that will provide updates on our course offerings, codes and standards work, community engagement opportunities such as Wildfire Community Preparedness Day and more. NFPA will also honor the first Wildfire Mitigation Award winners along with IAFC and our partners with the National Association of State Foresters and the USDA Forest Service.

Wordle_NFPA_IAFC
Staff will be on hand to talk to participants at our exhibit booth (#408) about our wildfire safety initiatives, and you'll also find out more about a special fire department survey on wildland fire needs that NFPA's Fire Analysis & Research group will soon launch. On Thursday the 26th, Firewise and Fire Adapted Communities Program Manager Lucian Deaton and I will present along with Rapid City (SD) Fire Lieutenant Tim Weaver on "Regulations in the WUI: Challenges and Lessons Learned in Code, Ordinance and Standard Adoption."

Don't miss this opportunity to interact with NFPA and IAFC staff and learn from the many experienced fire service professionals who will be in Reno! Check the IAFC conference web page for more details and to register for the pre-conference and main sessions.

 

An adjustment to HR 167 the Wildfire Disaster Funding Act has been introduced into congress as a bipartisan bill by U.S. Reps. Mike Simpson, R-Idaho, and Kurt Schrader, D-Oregon.  This new version of this bill would end the Forest Service’s practice of “fire borrowing,” in which it diverts annual budget money from regular activities to pay for firefighting.


According to[ Representative Simpson,  | http://simpson.house.gov/news/documentsingle.aspx?DocumentID=398378]one of the representatives who introduced the adjustment to the bill, “There are a number of steps that we need to take to address forest health and management issues, but fixing the wildfire suppression budget must be the first one,” said Simpson. “Until we address this issue, anything we do to increase needed management activities in the forests, like hazardous fuels removal, timber harvest, conservation, or trail maintenance, will continue to be lost in fire transfers. Fixing the wildfire budget is the critical first step in making our forests healthier and, ultimately, reducing the cost of wildfires in the future.”


Representative Simpson also stated, "The way we currently budget for fire is costing taxpayers and destroying our forests,” said Simpson.  “Passing this legislation will have a significant and long-term impact on both our public lands and on our budget, allowing us to finally budget responsibly for wildfire suppression in a way that ultimately decreases firefighting costs by mitigating fire risk and making us better prepared for and more resilient against future fires.”


What do you think about this newly drafted bipartisan legislation?


 

!http://nfpa.typepad.com/.a/6a00d8351b9f3453ef01b8d0bbe0f8970c-800wi|border=0|src=http://nfpa.typepad.com/.a/6a00d8351b9f3453ef01b8d0bbe0f8970c-800wi|alt=Congress picture|style=margin: 0px 5px 5px 0px;|title=Congress picture|class=asset asset-image at-xid-6a00d8351b9f3453ef01b8d0bbe0f8970c img-responsive!


 


 


 


 


 


 


 


This picture of the Capitol Building is from Representative Simpson's site.


 


 


 


!http://i.zemanta.com/320997601_80_80.jpg|src=http://i.zemanta.com/320997601_80_80.jpg|alt=|style=margin: 0px; padding: 0px; border: 0px currentColor; width: 80px; display: block; max-width: 100%;!Congress tries again to fix wildfire budgeting

!http://i.zemanta.com/321097449_80_80.jpg|src=http://i.zemanta.com/321097449_80_80.jpg|alt=|style=margin: 0px; padding: 0px; border: 0px currentColor; width: 80px; display: block; max-width: 100%;!Simpson Reintroduces Wildfire Funding Bill

In the coming weeks and months, we’ll be sharing 2014 highlights from the Firewise Communities/USA® Recognition Program.  We applaud the dedication of the communities across the United States who prepare for wildfire and the focus they bring to preparedness.

2014 New FWC snapshot Map Jan15Last year, 165 new communities achieved Firewise recognition from 25 different states.  The combined volunteer and project work in 2014 for just these new communities to Firewise accounted for over $1.75 million in local preparedness, education and mitigation efforts. 

With 27 new communities, Colorado saw the strongest growth in 2014.  I asked Courtney Peterson, Wildfire Mitigation Education Coordinator and the State Firewise Liaison with the Colorado State Forest Service, what the value of Firewise is to the state. 

Courtney shared with me that, “the Firewise Communities/USA® program is an excellent tool for bringing Colorado communities together. The program enables communities to take ownership in preparing their homes against the threat of wildfire while establishing networks and relationships with local partners.”

In addition to the top 5 growth states, we are equally impressed with the work of all of the new recognized communities, especially where that 1 community rose to the challenge and is now making a difference. 

If you are one of the many wildland fire professionals responsible for protecting local forests, educating WUIcommunity residents, and managing operations, suppression and risk management activities, then you won't want to miss the 2015 International Association of Fire Chief’s (IAFC) Wildland-Urban Interface conference (WUI Conference).

The WUI Conference, held March 24-26 in Reno, Nevada, offers hands-on training and interactive sessions that will address the challenges of wildland fire and provide the latest information about advancements in the field.

Sessions and workshops are divided into three tracks:

  • Fire Adapted Communities
  • Operations and Suppression
  • WIldland Fire Policy & Tools

The WUI Conference’s comprehensive program also offers attendees the opportunity to attend NWCG courses and obtain Continuing Forestry Education credits.

For more information and to register, visit IAFC’s WUI 2015 web page today.

Funding for prefire planning and designated project work as defined in the Community Wildfire Protection Plan is being offered through a grant funded process. According to the First Nations Emergency Services Society (FNESS) of British Columbia’s website, “The Strategic Wildfire Prevention Initiative (SWPI) is a suite of funding programs managed through the Provincial Fuel Management Working Group – including the First Nations Emergency Services Society (FNESS), Ministry of Forests, Lands & Natural Resource Operations and the Union of BC Municipalities (UBCM). Grant administration is provided by UBCM and funding is from the Ministry. The initiative supports communities to mitigate risk from wildfire in the wildland urban interface.”

First Nations CWPP

The website details how to apply for funding as well as providing a step by step method of developing Community Wildfire Protection Plans (CWPPs).  The website also provides guidance on how to develop and implement projects.  The deadlines to apply for grant funding for these important First Nations projects are January 30th 2015, April 24th 2015 and October 2nd 2015.

Canadians looking for more information on prefire planning and wildfire preparedness can also visit the FireSmart Canada website.

The picture of Prefire planning is from the First Nations' Emergency Services Website in British Columbia, Canada.

First Nations

Our neighbors in Australia have had an extremely hot and dry spring including the hottest November on record.  These have been contributing factors to an early wildfire season this year.


Firefighters in Southern Australia are finally gaining ground on a blaze that has caused devastation across 31,000 acres (as of January 6) northwest of the South Australia capital of Adelaide.  So far, 163 buildings (including 38 homes) have been destroyed, 23 people were admitted to local hospitals for fire related injuries and thousands of residents evacuated the area. 


 

Wildfires are common in Australia during their summer months.  Now that we in the US are settling in to the New Year before our fire seasons begin we can make simple changes to our homes and the landscape surrounding our homes using Firewise Principles .


 


!http://i.zemanta.com/319877921_80_80.jpg|src=http://i.zemanta.com/319877921_80_80.jpg|alt=|style=margin: 0px; padding: 0px; border: 0px currentColor; width: 80px; display: block; max-width: 100%;!Homes destroyed as wildfires continue to burn in southern Australia - video

State legislators in Washington are helping their constiuents prepare for wildfire. According to the website of Rep. Brian Blake (D-Aberdeen), Chair of the House Agriculture & Natural Resources Committee, and Rep. Joel Kretz (R-Wauconda), the legislators will host presentations by local and state officials for the local community about preparations for the upcoming 2015 fire season today, January 5th.  What a good way to start out the new year with a bipartisan effort to plan a course for residents of Washington State to be safer in the event of a wildfire.  This meeting notice was posted on December 14, 2014.

The meeting will be held at the Brewster High School Library Monday, January 5th from 7 to 9 pm.  According to Representative Blake’s website, “Legislators and invited local and state officials including Peter Goldmark, Commissioner of Public Lands, and Frank T. Rogers, Okanogan County Sheriff, as well as Chuck Duffy, Washington State Fire Marshal, among others.” 

One item of discussion will include preparations for the next fire season.  Do you know what kind of preparations are being made in your area before a wildfire season begins?  What are you planning to accomplish to make your home and community safer in 2015?  Is 2015 going to be a “Year of Living Less Dangerously" for you and your community?  To learn more about how you can complete an assessment with your community and fire and land management agencies to plan a course of more effective action visit the NFPA’s Firewise Website.  And plan on participating in the Wildfire Community Preparedness Day on May 2!

2014_Carlton_Complex_WA_National_Guard

 A picture of the Carlton Complex Fire in Washington State taken by Jason Kriess, SFC, Washington National Guard.

I was impressed by the picture that I saw after an unusual southern Arizona snow storm.   The picture depicts a fire danger sign dusted with snow.  There is little fire danger now, but we remember the wildfires that have displaced so many residents and caused hazardous conditions for firefighters. 

Now is the time to begin to create safer communities as we clean up after the holidays.  Let us firmly make a plan of action and act to make these choices not just a wish but a reality and embrace the changes by sharing with our family, friends and neighbors how to live less dangerously.

May we all have a Happy and at the same time build a Firewise New Year. Tom Story Photograph

New Year’s Day in 2015 revealed the Tonto National Forests fire danger signs along the Beeline Highway, northeast of Mesa, Arizona and just south of the Four Peaks Road covered with snow brought by the 2014 New Year’s Eve storm in Arizona. Photo by Tom Story, January 1, 2015.

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