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The US Forest Service spoke about the difficulty in fighting wildfires faced by wildland firefighters in an article on Sunday, March 29th.  According to the article, wildfires are getting more dangerous and more intense due to the increase in homes being built in the wildland/urban interface and changes in climate.

The impetus for increasing the pace of the development of a better shelter for firefighters was the result of the horrible Yarnell Fire where 19 Granite Mountain hotshots perished.

Picture of the boots as left by one of the Granite Mountain Hotshots at the site of the Yarnell Fire tragedy from Prescott Fire Department Wildland Division Chief and former Fire Chief Darrell Willis.

Homeowners can make their communities and homes safer areas for firefighters to make a stand by implementing simple Firewise principles. When homes are built in high wildfire risk areas, these changes can make a difference in the outcome in the event of a wildfire.  New research continues to develop about new things we can change like our choice of mulch next to the home, types of roofing systems, new materials for decks and more.  We can choose to have a Year of Living Less Dangerously from Wildfire by plans made today.


It was interesting to note that on the webpage for the Property Casualty Insurers Association (PCI), mention was made of the importance of residents' preparation for wildfires.  They spoke about the extreme drought conditions faced by some areas of the United States despite some areas seeing quite a bit of precipitation this season.  They mentioned that areas of California, the Rockies, Great Basin and other areas of the Southwest are seen to be at risk, according to the predictive weather services.

According to the article, “With the threat of severe weather and dry conditions, PCI is urging those who live in fire-prone areas to prepare both financially and physically for wildfires. You never know when Mother Nature is going to throw a curve ball. The biggest investment most people make is buying a home….The best way to recover from a catastrophe is to financially prepare ahead of time. Homeowners and renters should conduct an insurance check-up annually.”

It is important in order to plan to have a Year of Living Less Dangerously from Wildfire to do a one-two step. Make sure that you have prepared physically by making Firewise improvements to your home and landscape. Then take a careful look at your insurance coverage, especially if you made changes or additions to your home or have made big item purchases recently. Read your policy and if you don’t understand it call your insurance agent. 

The NFPA’s “Living Less Dangerously from Wildfire”, (#YLLDW) campaign focuses on two main groups:  residents and firefighters.  In the plan phase of this campaign, we are addressing the need for residents to plan, before they even have a wildfire, on what they need to do to protect their homes and themselves.  But wildland firefighters need to plan too.  And so do Incident Commanders.

This time of year, most fire agencies are conducting annual refresher training on various wildland fire subjects, especially safety, as well as doing their annual pack tests.  Fire Managers and Command personnel will also be doing planning.  Pre-Incident planning is essential for safe and efficient fire suppression operations.  It’s about taking care of as many things as you can before the fire ever starts.  Actions that can save time, stress and even lives.

All of us that have fought wildland fires and had to command them know only too well how rapidly the complexity of a wildland/urban interface fire can grow.  You can find yourself behind the “power curve” in the blink of an eye it seems.  When it “hits the fan” that is the wrong time to be thinking about mutual aid agreements, water sources, air-to-ground radio frequencies, resource ordering procedures, local area maps, and the like.

In the October 2014 issue of Fire Break, NFPA’s Michele Steinberg wrote about a very informative article by Jim Linardos, “Taking Command of the WUI Fire”, that was published in Firefighter Nation.  Jim is a former Chief Officer and has served on Type 1 and 2 Incident Management Teams.  “If we have prepared our communities towards being Fire Adapted Communities through programs such as Firewise and Ready, Set, Go, then we as the Fire Service need to get prepared too”, Jim said.   

 As our fire service partners prepare for the coming fire season, I thought the article was particularly relevant and should be highlighted again.  Read it, use it, and more importantly, learn from it.  As Jim admitted, “It took me 35 years to write this article because I have been guilty of each one of these mistakes”.  What are you doing about living less dangerously from wildfire?

This fire season has started early, reflecting earlier predictions made by the National Interagency Fire Center in February.   As predicted there have been multiple fires in the Midwest region of the US including,Oklahoma, Kansas, Missouri, and North Dakota.

  Current active fire map

Who would have thought that fire season would begin here?  In fact, one fire in Oklahoma in Woodward County, according to a Channel 9 Oklahoma news report, has had 35 fire departments from Oklahoma and Kansas work on the fires which as of 8 pm on Monday March 16th had burned 23,000 acres! According to a Weather Network report about this same fire, at least 7 homes and 20 buildings have been destroyed with an estimate of damage from the fire to be at least one million dollars. There are 7 large fires located on the map for the state of Oklahoma on the March 20th map.

According to another report from the Weather Network, there is a large wildfire on the Kansas/Missouri border.  It said, “The fire started Sunday afternoon in Elwood, Kansas then jumped the Missouri River into St. Joseph, according to the The St. Joseph Fire Department.

The fire department says hundreds of acres have been destroyed so far. Luckily, no homes were damaged in the blaze, and no major injuries were reported."

Oklahoma fire
An Oklahoma fire picture shot from the May hill 7 miles north of Mooreland posted by Channel 4 KFOR News in Oklahoma

No matter where we live, it is important that we all are prepared to live a Year of Living Less Dangerously from Wildfire.  We all can make a difference by taking simple steps to reduce risks in the event of a wildfire.


At Operation Tomadachi many papers were presented that investigated different aspects of wildfire, including the generation of firebrands, the physics of fire whirls, how embers enter attic vents as well as wildfire prevention solutions including hardening communities to wildland/urban interface (WUI) fire exposures and innovative fire suppression methods such as liquid nitrogen filled ice balls that put out fires.


The video was shared with me by Hiroyuki Torikai about his research at Hirosaki University.

It was exciting to see the new research being developed and observe scientists ask hard questions that will translate into future developments to enable us make better choices in the future as new homes and communities are developed.  There will also be advances made to insure the safety of wildland firefighters as we learn about the physics of what contributes to the formation if dangerous fire whirls as well as the development of new firefighting equipment.  Can you imagine a type of paintball gun that shoots liquid nitrogen filled ice balls into a fire to put it out? 

Daniel Gorham, NFPA Associate Engineer, Hazardous Chemicals/Materials, and Dr. Sara McAllister, Research Mechanical Engineer, US Forest Service Rocky Mountain Research Station, examine a poster about a research project developed by a group of University of Maryland College Park students that included Dan's Masters thesis work.

Following Firewise principles based on the research of scientists and observations of fire personnel such as those from US Forest Service and others can create more resilient communities in the event of a wildfire.  The NFPA and its Wildland Fire Operations Division are working with many individuals from many agencies, research departments, insurance companies, community members and others to provide learning opportunities and technical assistance enabling the development of Firewise Communities that make a difference! 


Take a quick two-minute break from what you're doing and watch NFPA’s new whiteboard animation video - a tool for fire departments, Firewise Communities/USA program participants, forestry agencies and residents. The fast-paced animation combined with the engaging message uniquely illustrates the importance of local projects and highlights the benefits of grassroots efforts.

The video is a unique outreach tool that will encourage development of local Wildfire Community Preparedness Day activities on Saturday, May 2.

Share the fun high-energy video with stakeholders, neighbors, friends and community groups and get them motivated to participate in the campaign! 

Post the video on social media and email the link to your networks and generate projects in your community that will create awareness, education and action on May 2.

I must admit, I find it hard to fathom grilling right now, let alone spring or summer here in the Northeast as another couple of inches of snow fell Friday night and bitter cold is slated for this week.

But Sunday morning I was watching a news program and was reminded that while the Northeast is still bundled up in parkas and hats, the rest of the country has been dealing with quite the opposite challenge, a lack of precipitation and unseasonably warm temperatures. So while those of here in New England are still digging out our grills from the snow, many more families outside this area have already fired theirs up, cooking their favorite summer fare.

So today, I’d like to add a twist to the grilling fire safety story and instead of talking solely about grilling issues related to structural fires, I want to relate this very serious issue to the WUI and the challenge of grilling in high risk wildfire areas.

A recent online article on NC1 News out of Rapid City, South Dakota speaks to this very issue. With little precipitation in recent months, the Rapid City Fire Department has warned the public to take caution when using grills, especially when lighting charcoal, due to high winds that accompany the dry weather. I know it’s not always top of mind but remember, embers from flames shooting up from the grill can easily be whisked away by these winds and land in trees or on the grass sparking a fire.  Grill

According to the article, the U.S drought monitor shows 82 percent of South Dakota as abnormally dry or in moderate conditions already, and predictions point to these conditions persisting or intensifying through June.

Home fires involving grilling incidents occur most often in the months of June and July, and with the added concerns about drought, increasing temperatures and high winds, grilling not only poses a threat to houses, it can also start a grass or brush fire in our yards and quickly spread throughout the neighborhood. As you work on ways to safeguard your grill, try and take an extra step and include safety measures around your home. By following a few simple Firewise and grilling safety tips, you can reduce the risk of a fire happening in and around your home.

NFPA has some great resources for grilling enthusiasts you can use right now including an infographic and tips sheet. Download both and tack them to the fridge for easy access. Also, you’ll want to visit our grilling page often over the next few months because we’ll be adding new resources you can use and share with friends and family.

In the meantime, let us know how we can help. What are you doing to keep yourself and your family safer from fire? Have stories you want to share about how families can stay safer while grilling? Have you created a safer home ignition zone around your house using Firewise principles in action? We want to hear from you!

Find out more about grilling fire safety at And learn more about the home ignition zone and the Firewise Communities Program at

And here’s to hoping that spring and summer will soon reach the Northeast!

20150227_145641 (2)
Nearly half of the winners of the new Wildfire Mitigation Awards will be present at this week's IAFC WUI 2015 Conference in Reno, Nevada. Leaders with the four sponsoring organizations -- IAFC, NFPA, the National Association of State Foresters, and the USDA Forest Service -- will be on hand to honor these pioneers and champions on Wednesday, March 25.

This new award consists of three categories:

  • Fire Adapted Communities Fire Service Leadership
  • Wildfire Mitigation Innovation
  • Community Wildfire Preparedness Pioneer

Check this blog for photos and more coverage about the awardees, who have shown outstanding service in wildfire preparedness and safety. For a complete list of the winners, click here.


In the spirit of collaboration, the National Institute of Standards and technology (NIST) has hosted a meeting of the top scientists from across the United States and Japan, along with attendees from other nations, called Operation Tomodachi. The English translation of the word Tomodachi is friendship.  NIST was established in 1901 by a bill introduced by Congressman Southard with the directive to serve as the national laboratory and oversee standard weights and measures.  The scientists at NIST have received world recognition including Nobel Peace prizes and other awards.  NIST was responsible for investigating the 2002 collapse of the World Trade Center and has developed a renowned Fire Science Laboratory. 

Photo (2)
A wind tunnel designed by NIST researchers in the 1920's to examine the effects of wind on homes. This was a precursor to the NIST Fire Research Lab. Photo by Faith Berry.

According to a NIST abstract, “Dr. Samuel L. Manzello of NIST’s Engineering Laboratory (EL) served as the USA side organizer of the 2nd Japan-USA workshop held in Tokyo, Japan from July 1 to July 4, 2012. This workshop was known as Operation Tomodachi - Fire Research. This workshop, led by Dr. Samuel L. Manzello of EL-NIST and Dr. Tokiyoshi Yamada of the University of Tokyo, was conducted in partnership with the Japan Association of Fire Science and Engineering (JAFSE). The objective is to open a dialogue for new research collaborations between Japan/USA in an effort to develop scientifically based building codes and standards that will be of use to both countries to reduce the devastation caused by unwanted fires.” The devastating natural fires in Japan are generally the result of earthquake and tsunamis, as well as wildfire.  The research on fire mitigation and hardening homes from Japan was shared with US scientists who in turn shared their studies on structural engineering and wildfire. 

Photo 2
Dr. Stephen L. Quarles, Senior Scientist for the Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety (IBHS) and research student Wei Tang discussing Mr. Tang's research paper.

 It was interesting to note that wildfires in Japan are causing less devastation than in the U.S. This is attributed in part due to fewer people moving to rural communities and to a combination of greater efforts on creating healthy forests and fire resilient homes.  According to researcher Nelson Bryner from the fire engineering laboratory at NIST in his paper, Large Outdoor Fires in USA: What is the Problem, “In the United States 60% of new home construction is in the WUI.  Wildfires have increased and these US wildfires contribute more carbon dioxide (CO2) 200% more (greenhouse emissions) than all the cars in California.  This wildfire devastation in the states also affects the environment in the form of mudslides after the fires and harm to the watershed and water ecosystem from silt accumulations that destroy water quality and fish and other creatures that live in the affected water ecosystem."

There were many presentations and papers shared and discussed at panel discussions.  It was also decided by many scientists present that there are many new opportunities for additional research.  Progress made in wildfire research can improve the way new homes are constructed and help increase the development of new Firewise and Fire Adapted Communities.

At the Fire Protection Research Foundation’s 2015 Suppression, Detection and Signaling Research and Applications (SUPDET) symposium in Orlando, Florida, NFPA's associate engineer, Daniel Gorham, gave a presentation on the wildfire problem across the U.S. Below is a recap of that presentation from my colleague Jesse Roman's blog post: SUPDET 2

In his presentation,"Application of Fire Protection in Wildland-Urban Interface (WUI) Design: Hazard Definition and Review of Current Practices," Gorham outlined the growing problem of wildfire and why trained fire protection engineers have to be part of the solution.

“The knowledge gap is huge,” he said, speaking of what is currently known about wildfire behavior. “We are starting to understand that FPEs need to have a role here. FPEs have the tools and skill sets to contribute and we are starting to close that (knowledge) gap and gain momentum.”

Learn more about the Fire Protection Research Foundation and the great work they do on NFPA's website.

Govt complex fire night sky

Because of the lower than normal snowfall in parts of southern and eastern Oregon, the fire potential, according to many officials, is very high.  According to an article from the KGW TV station website in Portland, Oregon, Oregon Wildfire experts warn of driest season in 25 years, US Senator Ron Wyden (D- Ore); “They were looking at drought conditions that are the most significant in 25 years.  I was in Lane County and the snow was about 10 percent of the typical amount. This looks like it's going to be a very difficult season and we're going to start mobilizing very early."

Oregon’s potential fire season is a threat to be taken seriously by homeowners and the local authorities having jurisdiction.   Having worked with two fire jurisdictions and the NFPA’s Wildland Fire Operations Division, I have seen first-hand how homeowners can make a difference both in the survivability of their home and fire fighter safety by implementing Firewise principles both to harden the home itself and by modifying the landscaping surrounding the home.   

Homeowners can make changes that protect one of their biggest investments: their home. They can also take simple steps to create areas that are safer for fire fighters to work in. Now is the time to plan, act and embrace Firewise changes in order to have a Year of Living Less Dangerously from Wildfire (#YLLDW), before the wildfire season begins. 

There are free online classes, public education materials, and information to enable community members to work together to create resilient Firewise Communities by collaborating with local officials to assess their risks before this year’s fire season begins.

Final figures from 2014 have been calculated and they illustrate strong involvement by Firewise Communities across the United States

In 2014, the program welcomed 183 new communities representing 28 different states.  These communities reflect the range of resident size, development, and WUI risk.  All are embracing their responsibility in preparedness.
4_FirewiseLogoColor_NFPA_transparency 5
In 2014, the 1142 active communities reported $33 million in recorded community preparedness activities.  This collective achievement represents community mitigation work, individual resident efforts, and the “sweat equity” of resident’s volunteered time making their community’s safer.  

So far this year, 10 new communities have received recognition from their state forestry agencies in the program, raising the number of currently active communities to 1152 in 41 states.  These communities comprise nearly 1.3 million residents who make a difference at the local level. 

We applaud the hard work that Firewise Communities do everyday and look forward to sharing their successes in the year ahead. 


A large wildfire can wreak devastation but the next step after a wildfire is just as important: rehabilitating the area to prevent further damage from mudslides to homeowners and watersheds.  A new cloud based system called (RECOVER) Rehabilitation Capacity Convergence for Ecosystem Recovery , will utilize multiple applications to assist land managers with post fire recovery of ecosystems.  

Once a fire has been controlled the next step is for a burned area emergency response (BAER) team to develop plans to stabilize the environment and coordinate a collaborative effort to rehabilitate areas critically damaged. 

!|border=0|src=|alt=Burnt ecosystem|title=Burnt ecosystem|class=asset asset-image at-xid-6a01b8d094a1ff970c01bb080aca71970d image-full img-responsive!

Photo Credit: Mark Pomerleau in "Cloud-based Web App Assists Fire Response Teams"


According to an abstract posted on the NASA website, “RECOVER is a site-specific decision support system that automatically brings together in a single analysis environment the information necessary for post-fire rehabilitation decision-making. After a major wildfire, law requires that the federal land management agencies certify a comprehensive plan for public safety, burned area stabilization, resource protection, and site recovery. These burned area emergency response (BAER) plans are a crucial part of our national response to wildfire disasters and depend heavily on data acquired from a variety of sources. Final plans are due within 21 days of control of a major wildfire and become the guiding document for managing the activities and budgets for all subsequent remediation efforts.”  


According to an article in the GNC on line magazine, “Partner agencies using the program for Phase 1 testing include Department of Interior, Bureau of Land Management and the Idaho Department of Lands. The RECOVER system will be ready within the next three years and will first be deployed in the Great Basin states of Idaho, Utah and Nevada for use by federal and state agencies.”


!|src=|alt=|style=margin: 0px; padding: 0px; border: 0px currentColor; width: 80px; display: block; max-width: 100%;!Burned Area Emergency Response Team Assembled for Round Fire


In a previous blog about the Predictive Services latest fire predictions for this year it was shared that there would be an increased wildfire risk in the Midwest.  Recently Great Plains Fire Information Website on March 10, 2015 reported an elevated wildfire risk and a working wildfire called the North Pole Fire located in the area of Highway 16 and Renegade Road west of Custer and there were structures threatened.  The fire grew to 59 acres and there was some smoke that made driving difficult in the area. State, federal resources and a local water tender from the Custer Volunteer Fire Department were working the fire.

According to the Incident Information System from the US Forest Service Inci Web, “Type III Incident Management Team has been established in Custer and continues to monitor fire behavior, the terrain, and weather forecasts. Firefighter and public safety are the highest priority as strategies are developed and implemented to contain the fire.

No ownership has been determined at this time, although the fire has burned both private property and U.S. Forest Service land.

Fire officials said the fire held well last evening on the road system, dozer line and hand line with no significant change in size.”

It is important to take note of these tools that we have at our disposal to be aware of our risks and implement Firewise changes to our homes and landscape to insure that we are living a Year Less Dangerously From Wildfire.

To continue to reduce the threat of wildfire and create a healthier forest in Los Alamos County, New Mexico, the Los Alamos Fire Department and the Santa Fe National Forest wildland firefighters are conducting maintenance burns.  How are maintenance burns different than prescribed burns?  In prescribed burns, the purpose is often to kill live standing trees.  Maintenance burns are designed to reduce fuel on the surface such as grass, pine needles, and dead downed wood that is often placed in piles.  Flame height in maintenance burns is often but not always smaller than in prescribed burns.

These winter season burns began in January and are aimed at creating healthier forested areas adjacent to housing areas as described in the County's community wildfire protection plan (CWPP).  Burning was planned to occur during favorable weather conditions (when smoke dissipation is favorable and humidity is high) between January 9th and March 30th 2015.

Learn if your community has developed a CWPP, a plan that can develop courses of action that will insure that your community has a year of living less dangerously from wildfire.  Actions taken around your home such as cleaning gutters, moving wood piles and cleaning up under decks among others can insure that your property is safer in the event of a wildfiire.


This image is from the Los Alamos County website.

The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) has assembled a research team made up of researchers from NFPA, Bentley University, Brandeis University and the U.S. Forest Service to investigate local fire department wildfire preparedness and readiness capabilities. The purpose of the study is to identify the most important elements in a wildfire protection program, including response and community risk reduction actions. In addition, the study will investigate how fire departments overcome barriers and adapt to the wildfire risk given the resources available to them.

WUI 2015
To this end NFPA is looking for local Fire Department Chiefs or senior line Officers who have experienced a major wildfire event within the last few years to participate in the study. NFPA is working closely with the International Association of Fire Chiefs’ Wildland Fire Policy Committee to identify Fire Departments for the initial pilot phase of the project which should be completed within the next 3 weeks.

Albert Scott, Fire Data Assistant and active Lieutenant with the Providence, Rhode Island Fire Department, and I will be at the IAFC’s Wildland-Urban Interface Conference in Reno, Nevada (March 24-26) and are looking for volunteers to participate in interviews for the study during the course of the conference. Participation would involve an hour-long recorded interview to help us learn more about local fire department preparedness for wildfires. We’re offering eligible participants a $50 gift card as a way to say “thank you” for your time and support of our project. If you’re not able to join us at the conference, but would like to be included in the interview process, please let us know. We will be conducting phone interviews in the coming months. NFPA will be offering an incentive of $50 for those who participate in an interview at the conference and a choice of one NFPA Fire Protection Standard for folks who schedule an interview after the conference.

Please contact us at or  if you would like to schedule an interview at the conference or some time thereafter. You can also reach us by visiting booth 209 during the conference. Preliminary results from this study will be available in late summer. We look forward to seeing you in Reno! 


NFPA lands at Reno in force

Posted by tomwelle Mar 19, 2015

If you are headed to the International Association of Fire Chief’s Wildland Urban Interface Conference in Reno, NV this March, you will notice that NFPA has brought a wide ranging contingent to work with our partners in wildland fire safety.

On Tuesday, March 24, at 10:00 a.m. in the Tuscan 5 room, you can come check out “What’s New in the WUI” – Updates from NFPA

Here’s the lineup:

Michele Steinberg, Wildland Fire Operations Division (WFOD) Manager, NFPA, will make introductions and have opening remarks.

Tom Welle, WFOD Senior Project Manager, showcases the divisions Outreach and Advocacy activity as well as updates on the Firewise Program.

Pat Durland, Stone Creek Fire LLC, NFPA Instructor will cover Wildland Fire Mitigation Training and Education through NFPA.

Hylton Haynes, Senior Research Analyst, NFPA Fire Analysis & Research, will be speaking about a wide variety of research updates on WUI issues.

Ryan Depew, Fire Service Specialist, NFPA Public Fire Protection, rounds out the group with Wildland Fire Related Codes and Standards.

So, there you have it.   Come to Reno, come to Tuscany 5, come and learn about what NFPA is up to in the WUI.

See you there!

There are many potential pathways for wildland fires to ignite buildings in the wildland/urban interface (WUI). These pathways (including both fire and ember exposure) depend on the characteristics of the area (e.g., fuels, terrain, weather, etc.), the characteristics of the community (e.g., construction materials, building designs, housing density, landscaping, etc.), and the characteristics of the interface itself (e.g., separation distance, physical barriers, extent of perimeter, etc.). HIZ

As you may know, NFPA 1144: Standard for Reducing Structure Ignition Hazards from Wildland Fire, and NFPA 1141: Standard for Fire Protection Infrastructure for Land Development in Wildland, Rural, and Suburban Areas, address hazards to structures in the WUI, and provide appropriate mitigation measures. But by further understanding the pathways we mention above, and their contribution to fire risk, we will better be able to inform future editions of these NFPA standards.

So please join NFPA on April 21 from 12:30-2 PM EST for a free webinar titled, Wildland Fire Ignition Pathways with Dr. Michael Gollner, assistant professor at the University of Maryland Department of Fire Protection Engineering, where we will explore these issues and try and answer some of the questions around home ignitions. The webinar is a great opportunity for those impacted by WUI fires including residents, planners, emergency managers, educators and responders.

For more information and to register, please visit NFPA’s online catalog.

On March 22-23, 2015, more than 35 wildfire safety professionals will participate in NFPA's newly revised Assessing Wildfire Hazards in the Home Ignition Zone seminar at a pre-conference session at the IAFC WUI Conference in Reno, Nevada. What's learned in this classroom will go a long way toward helping people in high risk areas live less dangerously from wildfire. 

The seminar was developed to help increase an understanding and competency in wildland/urban interface fire mitigation for wildfire mitigation professionals, focusing on assessing risks to individual homes in wildland, forested, or grassland areas. By enabling trusted experts such as fire fighters and forestry specialists to confidently assess the ignition potential of homes, they will be instrumental in encouraging residents to take corrective mitigation measures to prevent wildfire disasters.

The newly revised seminar comes with the opportunity for students to take an exam to earn a Certificate of Educational Achievement from NFPA. Being able to show that their training has helped them meet critical learning objectives about wildfire and home ignition potential is one way to build credibility within the wildfire industry, the fire service, and among the public about the value of wildfire mitigation action. 

Living less dangerously from wildfire, for some, may simply be a matter of learning what can be done, easily and inexpensively, around the home to minimize ignition potential. If a home doesn't ignite, it can't burn. Using fire science research, including captivating footage of ember experiments thanks to the IBHS Research Center, this training will help spread accurate, actionable information about preventing wildfire disasters to the people who live with the risk.

Haymanfire-45 tom cooper getty images

 Wildland fire behavior is determined by the interaction between fuels, weather and topography. 

Fire mangers are constantly looking to new technologies to help them predict a fire’s future activity.  Within the Incident Command System, a position called the Fire Behavior Analyst, (FBAN), uses software to analyze variables such as predicted wind speeds, direction, relative humidity, temperature, fuel types and species, slope, and aspect to try and derive what the fire’s future intensity, direction and rates of spread might be, especially in the next 24 hours.  The FBAN builds the fire behavior analysis which the Planning Section uses to help develop the next burn period’s Incident Action Plan, (IAP).

Meteorologists and Fire Scientists are conducting research to develop models that will someday form the basis of new predictive technologies.  One example is “Data Driven Wildland Fire Spread Modeling” by Cong Zhang and Maria Theodori of the University of Maryland department of Fire Engineering.  According to the University, “the objective of this project is to develop a prototype data-driven wildland fire simulation capability capable of forecasting the fire spread dynamics”.  High-park-fire9 inciweb

An article in the High Country News, “The Art and Science of Forecasting Wildfires”, details research studying the interactions of fire, wind, topography and fire generated winds.  Janice Coen, a fire weather and behavior researcher with the National Center for Atmospheric Research, (NCAR), near Boulder, Colorado, studied flame patterns in wildfires from aircraft using an infrared imager since the 1990’s.  She developed a fire behavior model that combines the physics of heat and air with fine grained topographic and weather data to reproduce fire behavior in conditions closely mimicking actual behavior.  Check out her fire behavior model simulation of the 2012 High Park Fire that occurred near Ft. Collins, Colorado.

As NFPA promotes its campaign of “The Year of Living Less Dangerously from Wildfire”, (#YLLDW), we are always seeking information and knowledge to keep our firefighters and residents safer from the risks of wildfires.

(photo credit: tom cooper: map credit: inciweb)


Get out your phone and add this date to your calendar right now and participate in NFPA's and special guests America's PrepareAthon and the U.S. Fire Administration in a one-hour Twitter Chat on Tuesday, April 7 at 2 PM EDT.  

What do you mean you don’t know what a Twitter chat is (or as some people call it a tweet chat)?  Well my friend, you’re not alone; my first experience happened about six months ago and it was truly fun and educational. It’s a live moderated Twitter event using a specified unique hashtag, where a bunch of people interested in the topic engage in a single conversation during a set timeframe. The moderator/guest host posts questions and participants interact by providing a tweet about the topic. It’s a fast paced, fun and engaging format where the time flies by super quickly. Try it and you’ll want to know when the next one’s going to be! Join us April 2 and see for yourself what it’s all about.

The hour-long chat will use the hashtag #WildfirePrepDay and will focus on projects that can be accomplished for Wildfire Community Preparedness Day, Saturday, May 2. The conversation will provide information on mitigation, communication and evacuation.

This is a great opportunity to hear about projects and ideas that can help you plan for Wildfire Preparedness Day and America’s PrepareAthon. Participating in both the PrepareAthon and Prep Day will get you moving towards making your community a safer place to live.

We’re looking forward to having you participate in the conversation!

IMG_0605 - thank you signGrants Pass, OR - 2014 PrepDay funding award recipient

Recipients of the 2015 Wildfire Community Preparedness Day $500 project funding awards have been selected, and sixty-five projects from twenty-six states will receive $500 to fund a project on May 2. More than 300 entries were received from throughout thirty-seven states. The monetary awards were sponsored by State Farm, a co-sponsor of the second annual national campaign.

Project submissions covered a broad range of activities and the review panel had an incredibly difficult task of narrowing it down to only sixty-five recipients, since the caliber of applications were extremely high and provided multiple benefits to communities.

Applicants provided a brief description of the proposed project and how the funding would be used to reduce the risk of a wildfire, the impact(s) of a recent wildfire, or advance preparedness for wildfire.

The funding awards were done in conjunction with Wildfire Community Preparedness Day, which was developed to raise awareness, promote collaboration and bring residents together to implement projects that can help protect homes, neighborhoods and entire communities from future wildfire risks or current post-fire impacts.





MissouriJoin the Southwest Missouri Resource Conservation & Development Council and the Missouri Department of Conservation, Forestry Division for NFPA's two-day Assessing Wildfire Hazards in the Home Ignition Zone two-day seminar, Tuesday- Wednesday, May 19 - 20. No registration fee is required but by pre-registering, you'll receive important materials to read before the seminar begins.

The deadline to pre-register is May 5.

During the two-day seminar, you will:

* Discuss fire growth and development in the interface

* Learn how to identify and prioritize mitigation actions that will reduce ignitability

* Get an introduction of the concept of the home ignition zone

And so much more.

For the first time, this updated, interactive seminar offers a Certificate of Achievement for a nominal fee through an online exam taken after the course.

For more information and to register, please contact Bill Altman, Wildland Fire Management Specialist, Southwest Missouri RC&D at

FEMA's America's PrepareAthon! is just around the corner. Have you organized an activity? If not, consider joining millions of Americans on Thursday, April 30 as we work on ways to prepare our homes, neighborhoods and communities from hazards associated with natural disasters like wildfires, earthquakes, floods, hurricanes and tornados, and winter storms.  AP

America's PrepareAthon! is a great way to work with your neighbors and rally around a drill or group discussion or activity in an effort to make your community a safer place to live. 

How do you start? Visit the PrepareAthon! website to get project ideas, learn how to spread the word about your day of action, find valuable materials to share, and get answers to all of your questions. When you decide on a project, register it online and see how your actions contribute to a greater, safer America.

For those considering wildfire projects, don't forget that NFPA will be hosting an online webinar tomorrow (March 12 at 12 PM EST) that will focus on national Wildfire Community Preparedness Day on May 2 and show you how easy it is to apply your PrepareAthon! project to the Prep Day event.

We hope you consider joining us. And don't forget to share your projects with us. We can't wait to hear from you! 

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The Firewise website is chock-full of free learning opportunities for you to take advantage of so that you are better prepared in the event of a wildfire.  Better knowledge helps you create a better plan for your "Year of Living Less Dangerously from Wildfire".

The Firewise website has interactive modules and quizzes including; The Dynamics of Wildfire, Explore a Firewise Home, and Preparing a Home for Wildfire, among others.

In addition, free online courses address ways for both firefighters and residents to live less dangerously. Check out the offerings on firefighter safety in the wildland/urban interface, home landscaping, and conducting community wildfire hazard assessments.

The site's latest offerings are a series of virtual workshops with subject matter experts on a variety of important topics, including surviving a wildfire, providing access for firefighters, and research findings on how homes ignite from embers. 

How will you plan to have a Year of Living Less Dangerously from Wildfire? Perhaps these great tools and courses will help you create your plan to be safer all year long.

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From the Australian Business Roundtable website


[Michele Steinberg |] and I had the opportunity to discuss wildfire issues with some Australian wildfire safety "mates" last Friday in the late afternoon, which was early Saturday morning their time.  It was interesting to hear about the progress that has been made in their local areas with wildfire prevention and safety activities.  Peta Townsing, a South West Australia resident and community safety advocate who "tweets" regularly under the handle Firewise W Australia (@FirewiseWA)  observed that in her area of the world, community members need to be more involved in promoting their own safety in the event of a wildfire.


Peta forwarded us a link to the website of the Australian Business Roundtable for Disaster Resilience and Safer Communities. Their mission statement,&#0160;Working together to make communities safe ,&#0160;spoke to the need to work together to make communities more resilient: “The members of the Roundtable&#0160;have come together to champion the need for a more sustainable, coordinated national approach to make our communities more resilient and our people safer. It’s the only way to reduce the future economic and social costs of the inevitable natural disasters Australians will face.”</p>


Lessons on fire ecology

Posted by luciandeaton Employee Mar 10, 2015

A recent article out of Cape Town, South Africa, reflecting on wildfires that spread across the southern cape peninsula last week, reminded me of the suppression vs. natural fire debate that has influenced forest health considerations across the U.S., and here in Colorado.  The Cape's Fynbos ecological region is unique and requires fire for its natural ecology.  That history, and how they have responded to it, is familiar. CapeTimes 6 March 15 credit Ian Iansberg INSLA

"Fires are by nature sensational news, and nowhere else in South Africa is this more so than on the Cape Peninsula, where a national park protecting fynbos which must burn every 10 to 20 years is bordered by the country’s parliamentary capital city, which must not."

Photo credit Ian Iandsberg, INLSA / Pooley, Simon. 6 March 2015, Importance of Fire to Fynbos, Cape Times

Wildfire cover photo NFPA Journal March 15 WildfireWatch columnThe March/April NFPA Journal is out and in its latest WildfireWatch column, I reflect on what we can learn from international outreach.  A 31,000-acre wildfire in early January that forced evacuations and caused home loss northeast of Adelaide, Australia, brought the global impact and lessons of wildfire into focus. 

For some backstory, I had the opportunity in December, 2014, to meet with staff of Kishugu/Firewise South Africa, who worked with NFPA in the mid-2000’s on community wildfire preparedness and adopted the Firewise® Communities model as a best-practice tool.  Areas south of Cape Town just endured a major wildfire and the similarities to fires in America provide us with mirrored lessons on WUI development and residential risk. 

There is an often-raised concern over “Americanizing” the wildfire issue, and the risk of improperly viewing international connections as simply an avenue for bringing solutions to others.  The article explores that when we consider the global scope of fire risk and engage with it to enrich our understanding, it means we’re making NFPA’s programs, messaging, and standards even more valuable to that truly international conversation.

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Wind turbine fire picture by J Droz on


Wind generating power plants, also known as wind farms, have the potential for providing electricity to areas throughout the United States with little reliance on fossil fuels to provide for growing energy demands.&#0160; According to an article in Wind Systems online magazine, +Turbine Fire Protection, +“Today the market is estimated to be worth $60 billion annually, with global wind capacity expected to double every three years.”&#0160; The location of these wind turbines in corridors where there are high winds to create the electricity also creates a risk for a fire to spread into the nearby vegetation. There have been a couple of documented vegetation fires that have been started at wind farms like the View Fire which occurred in Riverside County, California in 2012 and burned more than 300 acres.


Within&#0160;[NFPA |]'s codes and standards, NFPA 850: Recommended Practice for Fire Protection for Electric Generating Plants and High Voltage Direct Current Converter Stations describes how alternative power suppliers can mitigate the risk of the facility to loss from fire and or explosion.&#0160; Wind turbines can ignite from lightning strikes just like a tree, as well as&#0160;from mechanical failure, combustion of the hydraulic fluid in the turning part of the nacelle , or failure in the electrical system and braking system.&#0160;

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Picture by Stuart McMahon from the UK Daily Mail


Besides installing fire suppression systems in the turbine itself, an article titled, Wind Turbines and Wildfires; is Your Wind Farm in Danger?provides some ideas of how to prevent the spread of fire from the turbine to the landscape. In the article, author&#0160;Dr. Robert W. Wittlesey states, &quot;Another means of protecting wind turbines from wildfires is to install and maintain a firebreak around the turbine. This is an area of land where vegetation and organic matter (i.e., fuel for the fire) is removed in order to prohibit or significantly reduce the spread of a wildfire. A firebreak is an important tool to have before a fire occurs: It would help limit the spread of a wind-turbine-generated fire and could even help protect a wind turbine exposed to a wildfire. The area and dimensions of the firebreak would have to be designed specific to that wind farm, as the firebreak’s size would depend on the type of falling debris expected during a fire and also the makeup of the vegetation on the ground.”

An interesting map that provides an overlay of where wind farms are located in relation to wildfire risk generated by the US Geological Survey highlights areas where these facilities could collaborate with local authorities having jurisdiction to mitigate risk.


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Planning to "live less dangerously from wildfire," also means planning for your financial safety. It is always a good idea to document your belongings in case you need to file an insurance claim. Before this wildfire season, take steps to make a home inventory. Should you have to make a claim, it will be much easier if you have pictures and other documentation including receipts, appraisals, credit card statements or other transaction documents and identification numbers. 

Making a listState Farm is NFPA’s partner and sponsor for the Year of Living Less Dangerously from Wildfire. They have a home inventory checklist that can help you get started on this important task.  You can start by documenting items you own room by room.  It is also a good idea to download and include pictures along with these scanned documents.  Once you have created your list and have downloaded the pictured and other scanned items e-mail it to someone that you trust and copy yourself.  You can save the files in a folder on your email account.  If there are large files you can PDF them and save them in a folder in your email account.  That is a great way to store photos and information so that if something happens to your home the information is available online and not damaged or destroyed.

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PrepDay Logo jpg w.year and new colors - 1.23.15
If it's been on your to-do list to apply for a $500 Wildfire Community Preparedness Day project funding award, and it hasn't yet made its way to the top of the list, this is a gentle reminder that the deadline is Thursday, March 5, at 11:59pm ET.

Here’s the good news - applying for a project funding award is easy and takes only a few minutes to complete. To be eligible, applicants must provide a short overview that briefly outlines the project details, resulting benefit(s), along with a description of how, where and who will be implementing the activity on Saturday, May 2.

Eligible projects cover a wide range of activities and include all types of efforts that increase wildfire awareness, address risk reduction, or post-fire impacts and will be implemented on the second annual national Wildfire Community Preparedness Day, May 2, 2015. Monetary support for the sixty-five project awards was generously provided by State Farm.

Wildfire Community Preparedness Day is an opportunity for people of all ages to participate in a risk reduction or preparedness activity that makes their community a safer place to live. Last year, grassroots efforts included an array of actions that increased risk awareness levels and brought neighbors and stakeholders together to improve an area's preparedness and resiliency; while also making it safer for firefighters to defend homes.

Visit and check out the promotional templates and materials that can be used to promote activities. There’s even an extensive list of potential project ideas to help get you started; or browse through the 2014 project photo album and be motivated by last year's accomplishments. Start coordinating a Wildfire Community Preparedness Day project/event today!  



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A large wildfire that has been fueled by gale force winds is burning across the southern peninsula of Cape Town, South Africa from Muizenberg to Hout Bay. 


According to a British Broadcasting (BBC) article, +South African Firefighters Battle Blaze on Cape Town Mountains+; “More than 100 South African firefighters are battling wildfires on the mountains around Cape Town. Thousands of hectares of vegetation have been reduced to ashes on Chapman&#39;s Peak, while several homes and a holiday lodge have been destroyed. More than 50 people - residents of a retirement home - have been treated for smoke inhalation, officials say.”

Wildfires are common in South Africa from November to May but according to some reports, this has been a hotter and dryer season than usual.  This fire started on Sunday and spread rapidly additionally due to high winds.


Photo credit:&#0160;A firefighter tries to stop a blaze at Noordhoek Manor. Nic Bothma, European Pressphoto Agency


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David Ropeik
is a risk perception consultant who thinks, writes and talks about "the risk perception gap," our human tendency to worry about things we shouldn't and to NOT worry about things we should. For example, many people are afraid to travel by air, but if they really want to be safer they would avoid traveling by car (more than 30,000 Americans die every year in car crashes). If we want to live less dangerously from wildfire, what are things to worry about - and not worry about?

When it comes to our homes and wildfire, many people worry that the big flames of a wildfire will burn everything in their path, including homes and businesses. While homes can indeed burn due to large flames, it turns out that our common perception of how wildfires usually burn down homes belie the facts. Scientific post-fire investigations, modeling and experimental research are all showing that if we want our homes to survive, we shouldn't worry as much about the big flames, and instead focus on the little things - embers or firebrands that blow in ahead of the flames, pile up in vulnerable areas on and around your home, enter vents and openings, and ignite your home.

The good news is, there is much we can do to create effective protection against ember impacts by using basic Firewise principles and learning more specifics about vulnerable areas of our homes. Check out the highlights from the IBHS Research Center's ember storm test to learn more about how embers ignite homes, then visit to learn more about how to protect decks, patios and porches and how to minimize risks from embers entering vents in your roof or eaves.

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Virtually attend next week’s interactive Wildfire Community Preparedness Day’s Workshop and get ideas on how you can organize neighbors, a community group or the people you work with in creating an activity that reduces local wildfire risks and concerns. The live workshop happens Thursday, March 12 at 10am in the Mountain Time zone. You’ll learn about the many promotional resources available at no charge and we’ll get you energized and motivated with some amazing success stories. Discover how you can easily implement activities where you live with project ideas that range from a short time investment of only couple of hours, to an entire day.

Advance registration is not required to participate – simply join the live workshop conversation through this link. Invest less than an hour and you’ll see how wildfire stakeholders everywhere can become a local champion. This is an opportunity to discover the types of projects that can be easily implemented and the benefits they provide both residents and firefighters! 

Interest in this year’s national Wildfire Community Preparedness Day continues to grow exponentially; and daily my colleagues in our wildland fire division are continually inspired by the range of activities being planned for May 2. The scope, scale and innovation of what’s being developed to increase individual, neighborhood and community wildfire preparedness demonstrates the desire from stakeholders at all levels to make areas with a wildfire risk a safer place to live.

Individuals, community groups, fire departments, forestry agencies and others have all demonstrated a desire to coordinate local grassroots projects that engage residents in reducing their wildfire risks and Saturday, May 2 is the perfect time to get started!   

Join NFPA and some very special guests for the 2015 Wildfire Community Preparedness Day Virtual Workshop on Thursday, March 12 and you’ll accomplish something great on May 2!

Unable to join the live workshop?  Access it at your convenience following the live session at


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