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2015

Earlier this week, a suspected arson-caused wildfire burned nearly 1000 acres in the woods near the Chernobyl Nuclear Plant in north-central UkraineChernobyl 2015 fires BBC.com news Entire villages, abandoned after the 1986 Chernobyl meltdown disaster, were consumed in this week’s wildfire. 

While the woods or open space behind your home are probably safe from dormant radioactive fallout and disaster exclusion zones, it’s important to remember that fires can threaten the natural areas on your property and cast embers if overgrown.  Jack D. Cohen, Research Physical Scientist at the Missoula Fire Sciences Laboratory, does a very good job explaining these “fire brands” and their risks to homes

HIZ new illustration1 originalYou can also learn easy steps you can take in the space 100+ feet from your home.  NFPA calls this “Zone 3” of the Home Ignition Zone and offers guidance

This is NOT clear cutting, but keeping this area "park-like" with trees limbed up to protect them from ground fires and ensuring healthy natural spacing between trees to protect them from crown fires. 

And, if there is another home within 100+ feet our your home, its a good reason to talk to you neighbor about being Firewise!


Photo credit: BBC.com/news 28 April 2015. http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-32502393 

wildfire.pngBefore you embark on the journey of obtaining grant funding for your community projects, make sure that you have your ducks in a row.  It is important to develop some key components as a firewise community to have credibility as an organization.  You will need to develop a mission statement, which defines your purpose and goals.  If you are not sure of what a mission statement looks like, you can view the Firewise Communities USA statement and the NFPA mission statement to give you an idea of how to get started.

 

Next document your successes.  It is hard to “toot your own horn”, but many grant funders prefer to fund groups that have already enjoyed some success.  Think about the events that you have hosted and small projects that you completed with volunteer help and any awards or recognition in the media for your events.

 

Start with smaller grants that do not require a complicated reporting requirement.  To find corporate possibilities in your area, give all residents in your community a brief survey, either online or as a postcard that they return to you asking what companies they have worked for or have family members working for.  Often companies will provide grant funding or assistance from corporate volunteers to communities where their employees live.

 

Shop on line for grant funds using key terms for the kind of funding that you are looking for.  Check insurance companies to see if they have grant funding for the prevention programs that you are trying to undertake.  If you do obtain funding make sure that you do a press release to thank the company and grow your credibility as an organization.  Take before and after pictures to give to the media and keep in your success file.

 

If you are a non-profit organization and have met all the requirements mentioned in part 1 you can search for grants on many federal websites.  These websites will let you know which grants are open and what the requirements are for reporting etc. FEMA has fire mitigation grants that occasionally open so it is a good idea to keep an eye on their website as well.  Best wishes for success as you plan your grant writing possibilities.

YLLDW

Grant funding from a variety of sources can be helpful to complete community wildfire mitigation projects.  Before seeking and writing grants, there are some things to consider to be successful.

A great project comes together first because a community has created a superb plan to identify critical needs that need to be addressed in your community.  It is not a one-size-fits-all when looking to effect change. Each community’s needs are as different as the kinds of homes, infrastructure, vegetation, topography and climate of each locale.  An effective pre-wildfire plan such as a Community Wildfire Protection Plan (CWPP), Firewise Assessment, or critical needs assessment needs to be collaboratively completed with all members of the community and the local Authorities Having Jurisdiction (AHJs) such as fire and EMT.

Study grant funding opportunities and reporting requirements. A community should decide how much time and expertise will be required, not only to apply for the grant, but to write the required financial reports after funding is obtained.  Federal grants may provide a lot of money but they are very competitive, require a lot of technical expertise to write, a lot of time to manage the reporting requirements. They may require a Dun and Bradstreet (DUNS) number (to demonstrate nonprofit status) and System Award Management (SAMS) designation.  If the community is a homeowners association, they may have an Internal Revenue Service (IRS) designation that would help obtain a DUNS number.  State and local grants may have similar requirements because sometimes grant funding through them comes from the federal government.  Both types of grants may also require environmental, historical and or cultural assessments before landscape/forestry projects are started.   

Corporate grants and sponsorships may require that you have a nonprofit designation (501(c)(3)), but sometimes do not require a 501(c)(3), especially for smaller, easy-to-manage grants.  Corporations may prefer to provide funding or volunteer assistance to communities where their employees live.  I have worked with some communities that send out postcards regularly to ask where family members work to explore funding and sponsorship possibilities.

Grant funding can help communities achieve goals that they would not be able to accomplish on their own.  With some determination, and willingness to share the workload, a community can through proper planning achieve their mitigation goals for homes (vent replacement programs, fence replacement programs and flammable roof replacement) and landscape through community chipping and clean up days and other projects.  Check the community success story page on the Firewise website to learn more about successful use of grants for wildfire mitigation.

  FaceBookProfile_2015 - 1.22.15

Just five more days until Wildfire Community Preparedness Day begins and grassroots projects to reduce wildfire risk happen throughout the U.S. and Canada. The campaign’s Put Your Project on the map feature reflects 115 projects that have been planned to help make community’s a safer place to live and be better prepared in the event of a wildfire; the map is a great way to demonstrate actions, so add yours today and get bragging rights for all you're doing.

If you think it’s too late to get involved, think again! There are project ideas for individuals, families, or entire neighborhoods and they come in all shapes, sizes and time commitments too; there’s even some that don’t require leaving your home. So there’s no excuse for not getting involved.

Change your FacebookTwitter and Instagram profile photos; use the prewritten social media posts to share important safety and preparedness tips and tell everyone you know how they can accomplish something great too!

Capture your May 2 efforts with a short video and add it to You Tube, post your project pictures in the Facebook Photo Album, or use Twitter to send important tips via #WildfirePrepDay.

Join others throughout the nation making their communities a safer place this Saturday, May 2. Check out the map and take a look at all the great things occurring where you live! 

A massive wildfire in Michigan was started by pyrotechnics used in a military training exercise. According to channel 9 news, “The fire tore through parts of Camp Grayling in Crawford County around 2:00 yesterday afternoon and burned an area North of Kyle Lake Road. 

New information now suggests that a Marine infantry battalion training on site employed pyrotechnics and signal flares and inadvertently started the fire.”

According to the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, “Approximately 600 wildfires are reported in Michigan each year….  A growing nationwide concern for fires in areas where cities and wildlands meet is of similar concern in Michigan. Every year buildings are lost due to wildfire."

Michigan Wildfires
Picture from the Michigan Dapertment of Natural Resources (DNR)

Most Michigan wildfires occur from April to June. An article in the Detroit Free Press reported, “National Weather Service says the fires come after Grand Rapids hasn't had measurable rain or snow since March 3, the area's longest dry stretch since 2002. Meteorologist Evan Webb says 'We're still pre-green up, so … vegetation is dead and burns quite readily.'"

Wherever you live, it is important to take steps that will make a difference.  Find resources to help you make this a Year of Living Less Dangerously from Wildfire.

Isdr-new

According to International Strategy for Disaster Reduction Website April 16th , during the first weeks of April, areas of Siberia in Russia suffered from multiple wildfires.  It was difficult to view the scenes of devastation on the website. 

Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA's Terra satellite
Picture of current wildfires in Russia from the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA's Terra satellite

According to the web article Forest Fires in the Russian Federation , “Russian farmers routinely set fire to dry grass to clean fields after the winter, sometimes accidentally sparking blazes that result in loss of life and damage to homes. During the first weeks of April 2015, grassfires have ravaged across the Siberian regions of Russia, killing 26 people and injuring almost a thousand. The combination of temperatures reaching 25°C (about 77° F) and high winds have fueled the fires that have destroyed buildings and killed livestock.”

 

Fires-Siberia-Ilya Naymushin Rueters
A family displaced by wildfires walks past the rubble of homes. Photograph by Shyra Ilya Naymushin Rueters

Russia also suffered from severe wildfires in 2010 due to an extreme heatwave.  The smoke from the wildfires of burning peat bogs in central Russia at that time caused smoky conditions for Moscow. 

According to an earlier article published April 14th, by USA Today about these wildfires, Siberian Wildfires kill 23, leave 5,000 homeless, “Regional Governor Viktor Zimin estimated it would cost $94 million to rebuild. “This fire would not have happened if people were not playing with matches,” Puchkov's deputy, Alexander Chupriyan, said in a statement. "And it wasn't children, but adults."

The wildfire in Russia has caused devastation to their Siberian communities, but according to the Weather Channel the smoke from the wildfires across the ocean reached the west coast over the weekend. According to the Weather Channel and NASA images, the smoke created hazy conditions in Washington State on the 17th of April and reached Oregon and California on the 18th and 19th. 

Russia-smoke-1
The blue, green and yellow colors show the aerosols associated with the smoke over the north Pacific Ocean April 16-17, 2015. (NASA)

Earlier this week, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker declared a state of emergency due to wildfire risks posed by persistent drought in the state.  His executive order activated National Guard assistance to the state’s emergency management and natural resources agencies. 

NOAA US Seasonal Drought Outlook 16April15Rains this week are lessening the fire danger in Wisconsin but NOAA’s seasonal drought outlook illustrates the persistent risk posed by dry conditions and wildfire in the Southwest, Pacific West, and Mid-West through this July.

In such risk warnings, Firewise principles around the Home Ignition Zone can help you be more prepared

I had the opportunity to speak with Jolene Ackerman, Wildland Urban Interface Coordinator and Firewise Liaisons with Wisconsin Dept. of Natural Resources and she shared advice relevant for residents in Wisconsin and beyond. 

Jolene explained that, “Elevated fire danger and drought conditions can cause the smallest spark, ember, or flame to quickly turn into an uncontrolled wildfire.”

She went on to importantly share that, “People are asked to be cautious with anything that can start a fire. We are especially concerned about people burning leaves and brush piles and ask that they put off this type of burning until the fire danger subsides.”

In drought conditions, make sure to talk with your neighbors about simple preparedness steps and take responsibility for your safety

Earth Day
Sparky the Fire Dog
is celebrating Earth Day today and throughout the month of April. He's partnered with NFPA's Firewise Communities Program to develop a great checklist that parents and kids can do together to help protect their homes from wildfire. By checking off everything on the list you will be helping to protect animals, trees, plants and your home! Green

To get started, you'll need a(n):


Next, grab your family members and head outside to work on your checklist! If you can, ask your neighbors and friends to get involved, too. And don't forget, take a picture of yourself in action! Share with our Firewise audience how you and your family are working together to help reduce your risk of wildfire damage in your neighborhood and keeping the earth clean and safe for all of us!

“It’s not hard to find any of us being seemingly annoyed that the NFPA doesn’t listen to what FIREFIGHTERS have to say. Actually, they do – and more than ever – especially since input via the internet makes it easy for NFPA committees to truly represent what FIREFIGHTERS need… not just the few at the table.”

Fire engine

That’s from a blog posted on last week's FirefighterCloseCalls.com, home of The Secret List. The post came at just the right time, as NFPA launches a new campaign, “Standards in Action: Your Voice Matters,” in an effort to increase fire service participation in our standards-making process.

“Standards in Action: Your Voice Matters” features quick, easy and free online access to public input and comments on NFPA standards. We’ll also be more consistently reaching out to the fire service to make sure they’re aware of opportunities to participate in our standards as they arise. In addition, we’re encouraging firefighters to get involved in NFPA standards in other ways, such as participating in committee meetings.

If you’re a firefighter, let us know what’s working for you within NFPA’s standards and what isn’t - visit our Standards in Action page to get started. Your voice matters, and we want to hear it! (A special thanks to Chief Billy Goldfeder with The Secret List for pointing that out.)

We just got word from our colleagues in NFPA's Washington, D.C. office that the House Natural Resources subcommittee on Federal Lands will be holding a hearing to receive testimony on forest fire management issues on Thursday, April 23 at 9 a.m. The hearing can be viewed on the House Natural Resources websiteHearing

According to the website, the hearing will focus on "wildland fire's devastating impacts and the need to better manage our overgrown, fire-prone national forests." 

Witnesses at the hearing will include:

* Philip Rigdon, Deputy Director, Yakima Nation, Department of Natural Resources

* Diane Vosick, Director of Policy and Partnerships, Ecological Restoration Institute, N. Arizona University

* Andy Fecko, Administrator, Placer County Water Agency, Placer County, CA

* Mitch Friedman, Executive Director, Conservation Northwest, Bellingham/Seattle, WA

For more information, take a look at the hearing memo and the subcommittee hearing notice. At its conclusion, tell us what you think. We'd love to hear from you.

A wildfire in Southern California has burned over 1,020 acres and caused evacuations of both homeowners (on Bluff Road, Stagecoach Road, Homestead Road) and livestock at an equestrian area  located at Ingalls Park, 100 6th Street in Norco was caused by an unattended cooking fire according to a CAL FIRE incident report.  The fire located near the Prado Basin between Highway 71 and Highway 91 was 35% contained.

Highway Fire Horses
Highway Fire image from Fox News

 

 

According to a local television report, the fire spread through the area rapidly due to drought conditions and dense dry vegetation. The Basin which usually has water in it this time of year is dry due to the extended drought.  The station reported that CAL FIRE Captain Liz Brown said, “About 500 firefighters were working the front lines. So were two helicopters, though fixed-wing aircraft were not being used," she said.

Because of the type of vegetation burning a lot of smoke has been created causing a dangerous air quality warning to be declared.  Residents in the area are encouraged to stay indoors.

Highway Fire Picture by Daniel Cole AP
Highway Fire image from Daniel Cole AP

 

The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) has some great information about safe grilling practices that homeowners can observe during the coming summer season. According to the NFPA blog, “In 2007-2011, U.S. fire departments responded to an average of 8,800 home and outside fires. These 8,800 fires caused an annual average of 10 civilian deaths, 140 civilian injuries and $96 million in direct property damage.”  As we enjoy the outdoors after the winter season, it is wise to take precautions to avoid causing unwanted damage. The NFPA has also created a grilling infographic (PDF,1 MB) for you to use on your website, blogs, Facebook and Twitter. Just download the graphic and place wherever you want to use it.  Have a happy and safe outdoor grilling experience.

Fire BreakThe April 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:

  • The 2014 Firewise Communities/USA Recognition Program final numbers
  • A list of presenters and sessions for NFPA’s Backyards & Beyond wildland fire conference in October
  • New research around fire activity predictions and how it’s helping scientists better understand fire behavior
  • Important information about grilling safely in high-risk wildfire areas (and even in areas that are not prone to large wildfires!)
  • A cool new animation video that encourages participation in national Wildfire Community Preparedness Day on May 2

...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.

Participating in Wildfire Community Preparedness Day (May 2) and America’s PrepareAthon (April 30) helps communities and individuals prepare before wildfires happen. By cross-promoting the two campaigns NFPA and FEMA are able to maximize the number of stakeholders that can share the information and emphasize the importance of mitigation, communication and evacuation preparedness actions.

Join the effort by sharing these tips with neighbors, family members and friends:

  • Take Action: Conduct a drill, exercise or other preparedness activity that will help your family or community become more prepared. Performing simple wildfire mitigation activities on your property, creating a family communication plan or going through evacuation routes are great ways to practice wildfire preparedness. 
  • Be Counted: Register your 2015 Wildfire Community Preparedness Day trainings, drills, exercises, workshops, community discussions, and other preparedness activities on the America’s PrepareAthon! website and add your efforts to the Put Your Project on the Map feature. 
  • Spread the Word: Show your support for these two grassroots campaigns and your commitment to wildfire preparedness. Spread the word within your community and take advantage of the wildfire preparedness logos, web banners, digital invitations, posters, and how-to guides available through the America’s PrepareAthon! website and WildfirePrepDay.org.

Be Smart. Take Part. Prepare for wildfire safety. Participate in Wildfire Community Preparedness Day and show your support for America’s PrepareAthon!

Visit ready.gov/prepare or wildfireprepday.org for more information and preparedness resources. Connect with us on Twitter @Prepareathon or @NFPA.

Blog snippet - 3.16.15

Small burning embers carried by winds from a wildfire can put your roof and areas surrounding your home at risk. 

Warwick Trebuchet photo credit telegraph.co.uk 10April15A burning cannonball, fired from the reportedly world’s largest working siege machine, landed sparks on the roof and destroyed a boathouse at the medieval Warwick Castle in central England on April 10

While your home will probably be safe from flaming cannonball trebuchet demonstrations gone horribly wrong, it’s important to remember that wildfires in dry conditions and strong wind can put you at risk if you’re not prepared.

The Insurance Institute for Business and Home Safety (IBHS) researches the risk of burning embers on roofs, eaves, vents, guttering, decks, and the area IBHS ember testingaround a property.  This area can include plants around the home, mulch, stored firewood, and belongings.  You can see the impact of embers in this research test video on a full-sized home

NFPA calls this area the “Home Ignition Zone” and you can learn more about easy steps you can take in “Zone 1” around your home with desired landscaping and seasonal yard work

There is also valuable information from NFPA and IBHS you can utilize to protect your roof, venting, and other structural vulnerabilities

We’re still working on advice for airborne flaming cannonballs…


Photo Credit: Harley, Nicola. "Warwick Castle Cannonball Show Sets Fire to Historic Boathouse." Telegraph.co.uk. 10 April 2015. 
Photo Credit: IBHS Research Center Ember Storm Test Highlights. Youtube. Captured 15 April 2015. 
 

Current dry conditions and strong winds, especially in the west, have led to “red flag warnings” in many states.  The Wildfire Today blog has been doing a great job positing daily information about where red flag warnings have been issued via the National Weather Service.
Fire Weather Watch Map NWS 15April15
It got me thinking about what a “red flag warning” means and how residents should respond to one if issued in their area.  Such warnings are issues when vegetation is dry, relative humidity is low, and winds are high over a period of time or a time of day. 

A fire in these conditions can spread rapidly.  The National Weather Service provides a detailed definition of a red flag warning and a glossary definition to help explain how the warnings are determined.  Chief Meteorologist Brian Bledsoe of KKTV, Colorado Springs, CO, provided a valuable explanation in this 2009 post as well

What should a red flag warning mean to a Firewise Community?   

I had the opportunity earlier today to speak with Courtney Peterson, Wildfire Mitigation Education Coordinator and Firewise State Liaison with Colorado State Forest Service, and she shared with me that with, “Colorado’s snowpack at only 65 percent of average and red flag warnings in effect throughout much of Colorado, there’s no better time than now to prepare homes and communities for wildfire.” 

She went onto say that, “homeowners, landowners and communities bear the ultimate responsibility to help protect themselves, their property and their local values at risk from the threat of wildfire. Taking simple steps, such as clearing brush, trees and other flammable materials away from homes and other structures, can help make homes more defensible and keep residents and firefighters safe.”

Learn about the risk and play your part in wildfire preparedness today

Photo Credit: National Weather Service, http://www.srh.noaa.gov/ridge2/fire/briefing.php 

SmokeyandNFPA
Celebrity sighting in DC! To Smokey's right, NFPA VP Lorraine Carli. At left, Michele Steinberg, NFPA President Jim Pauley

NFPA leadership and staff had a great opportunity today to talk about wildfire safety and mitigation in our nation's capital. The Congressional Fire Services Institute (CFSI) is holding its 27th Annual Fire and Emergency Services Symposium and Dinner this week at the Washington Hilton.  While in town, I accompanied NFPA President Jim Pauley and VP for Outreach & Advocacy Lorraine Carli on a visit to our partners at the US Forest Service Washington office, where we had to get a photo op with Smokey Bear.

BeachwoodNJ
Barnegat volunteer fire fighter John Cowie showed footage of a recent WUI fire

I moderated an excellent presentation by Barnegat, New Jersey, fire and police leaders John Cowie and Keith Germain, who described their unique partnership and lessons drawn from Firewise, the Ready, Set, Go! program of the IAFC, and Fire Adapted Communities. So much community trust and relationship building went on around wildfire safety in this high-risk area of New Jersey that when Superstorm Sandy struck, the township made what seemed impossible - safe evacuation and protection of homes during a devastating storm - not only probable but successful. 

Looking forward to this afternoon's sessions on community risk reduction and more!

IMG_3424
Barnegat Police Lt. Keith Germain describes relationship building benefits

 

!http://nfpa.typepad.com/.a/6a00d8351b9f3453ef01bb081d2bce970d-800wi|border=0|src=http://nfpa.typepad.com/.a/6a00d8351b9f3453ef01bb081d2bce970d-800wi|alt=Indian Country|style=margin: 0px 5px 5px 0px;|title=Indian Country|class=asset asset-image at-xid-6a00d8351b9f3453ef01bb081d2bce970d img-responsive!Part of the US Department of the Interior, the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) Branch of Wildland Fire Management oversees activities on more than 55 million acres of land held in trust by the U.S. for Native Americans in the U.S., Native American tribes, and Alaska Natives . !http://nfpa.typepad.com/.a/6a00d8351b9f3453ef01b7c7794002970b-320wi|src=http://nfpa.typepad.com/.a/6a00d8351b9f3453ef01b7c7794002970b-320wi|alt=Native Smokey|style=margin: 0px 0px 5px 5px;|title=Native Smokey|class=asset asset-image at-xid-6a00d8351b9f3453ef01b7c7794002970b img-responsive!


The Bureau of Indian Affairs’ website offers a host of information to communities to help with the prevention of human caused fires as well as mitigating the negative effects of wildland fire to tribal homes and people.  Firewise Communities/USA® is a featured resource.


There is also a link to information about bridging science and a traditional knowledge of fire, campfire safety, youth fire prevention, arson prevention and reporting along with posters and videos.


 

According to the BIA website :


“The Bureau of Indian Affairs and Tribal Wildfire Prevention programs across the country provide leadership, training and guidance to develop strategies to reduce the number of human caused fires on Indian Reservations. Prevention program staff work closely with tribal leaders and communities to:


    • Implement reservation wide burn permit systems 

    • Raise public awareness regarding human caused fires

    • Develop community wildfire protection plans

    • Invite community involvement to mitigate wildfire activity

    • Implement youth fire setter intervention programs

    • Conduct origin and cause wildfire investigations

    • Develop or revise Tribal Law and Order Codes pertaining to wildfire crimes.

    • Develop trespass cases from resource damaging wildfires”

HIZ
Register by May 5 for a seat at NFPA's two-day seminar, Assessing Wildfire Hazards in the Home Ignition Zone on May 19-20 in Springfield, Missouri, and earn continuing education credits and the opportunity to obtain a Certificate of Educational Achievement from NFPA. There is no registration fee for this seminar offering.

Sponsored by the Southwest Missouri Resource Conservation & Development Council and the Missouri Department of Conservation, Forestry Division, this NFPA seminar is newly revised and updated to include the latest fire science research about how homes ignite from wildfire and what people can do to reduce the risk of home destruction. 

This updated, interactive seminar offers a Certificate of Educational 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 Bill.Altman954@gmail.com.

Demonstrate your commitment to wildfire preparedness and risk reduction by adding your May 2 Wildfire Community Preparedness Day activity to the nationwide event map. It’s easy to do and in just a couple of minutes you’ll be able to proudly highlight your community’s efforts.  

Adding your project to the map visually illustrates the magnitude of grassroots wildfire risk reduction, education and awareness projects happening in local communities everywhere. Join others throughout the nation making their communities a safer place on May 2. Check out the map and take a look at the great things occurring where you live! 

 

Sun City, TX residents take their Firewise program seriously and on Feb. 20, 2015, two of their champions were officially recognized at the Georgetown City Council meeting.

Georgetown Fire Chief John Sullivan presented certificates of recognition to Paul Ohlenbusch and Dan Dodson for their years of dedication to NFPA’s Firewise program.  Paul and Dan then gave a short presentation on Firewise to the Mayor and City Council. Presentation

(l to r Chief John Sullivan, Paul Ohlenbusch, Dan Dodson) 

NFPA’s Firewise program is all about neighbors working with neighbors to reduce their risk from wildland fires.  It provides science based principles, training and education that helps residents organize, collaborate, and act to protect their homes, their lives and to reduce hazards for firefighters.

This year, the NFPA launched its campaign of “The Year of Living Less Dangerously From Wildfire", #YLLDW, and its three phases, “Plan, Act, Embrace”.  Paul, Dan and the residents of Sun City certainly represent what this campaign is all about.     

Sun City has 6,096 homes and 12,430 residents.  The Firewise Group within the community conducts many public presentations, has a core group of 50-60 Home Ignition Zone evaluators and also provides orientation classes to new residents.  In 2015, they will be presenting at the NFPA’s “Backyards and Beyond” conference Oct. 20 – 21 in Mrytle Beach, SC.  Sun City has had some very active Firewise Days and regularly conducts activities during the NFPA’s Wildfire Community Preparedness Day.

So if you want a year, (or more) of living less dangerously from wildfire, take some tips from Sun City, and see how you can “Plan, Act, and Embrace” wildfire risk reduction.

And, speaking of Wildfire Community Preparedness Day, it is May 2 this year.  What’s YOUR plan?

Chicago
NFPA's annual Conference & Exposition (C&E for short) will be held in Chicago this year from June 22-25. In spite of its midwestern urban location, this year's conference is loaded with education sessions of interest to wildland fire safety practitioners, mitigation specialists, engineers, fire fighters and researchers. 

Relevant education sessions on these topics run back-to-back on Tuesday, June 23 and Wednesday, June 24, including:

  • Flagstaff Watershed Protection Project: They Did What? - 6/23 8-9 am - a case study of one municipality's success in public support of fees to conduct wildfire mitigation
  • The Environmental Impact of Fire - 6/23 9:30-10:30 am - research results from a Fire Protection Research Foundation study on a broad array of impacts from structural and WUI fire
  • The 2013 California Rim Fire: Lessons Learned - 6/23 11 am - 12:30 pm - the third-largest fire in California history is explored, including examples of extreme fire behavior
  • The Wildland-Urban Interface: Pathways for Building Fire Spread- 6/24 9:30-10:30 am - research results regarding what's needed to inform future codes for structure and community safety
  • Fire Protection Design in the Wildland-Urban Interface - 6/24 11 am - noon - a fire protection engineering perspective on how to implement safer designs in wildfire-prone areas

Presenters' experience and backgrounds include wildfire mitigation, fire fighting and suppression, fire protection engineering, academic research and municipal government.

Check out the conference website for more information, including registration and schedule.

Southern Fire Exchange

Field Days

“Are you interested in learning about longleaf pine and forest management techniques relevant to South Georgia and North Florida?  Are you curious about cost-share and funding opportunities for longleaf pine on private lands?  Do you need help with invasive species management on your property?” The two free workshop and field opportunities can help you find answers to these and other questions if you are a land manager or owner in Georgia and Florida.

 

The Southern Fire Exchange invites you to join along with the Okefenokee / Osceola Local Longleaf Pine Restoration Implementation Team and partners for one of two FREE workshop and field tours on Tuesday, April 21st and Thursday, April 23rd. According to their website, “The workshop will consist of class training and an opportunity for questions and answers. Lunch will be provided on site.  After lunch, participants will depart for the field tours.  The field tours will visit several exciting longleaf pine restoration and management areas on public and private lands. At each tour stop, managers will facilitate discussions about the objectives, methods, and lessons from each project area.”

 

According to the website space is limited so register soon.  Registration ends April 14th and they do require that you have registered in advance to attend.

 

Georgia Workshop Registration Link:
(Folkston, Tues., April 21, 2015)

https://galandownerfieldday.eventbrite.com  

Florida Workshop Registration Link:
(Lake City, Thurs., April 23, 2015)

https://fllandownerfieldday.eventbrite.com

  FEMA

The FEMA preparedness e-brief dated April 8th highlighted a few activities that Firewise Communities may want to participate in. The first is an award for preparedness projects that were completed this year by April 10th.  The Application deadline is April 10th at 11:59 EST. According to the e-brief; “These awards highlight innovative local practices and achievements by recognizing individuals and Handsorganizations that have made outstanding contributions toward making their communities safer, stronger, better prepared, and more resilient. All applications must  feature program activities occurring between January 1, 2014 and April 10, 2015.”

Would you like to have a say in what FEMA’s preparedness goal is?  Now is your chance.  The current goal is:  “A secure and resilient nation with the capabilities required across the whole community to prevent, protect against, mitigate, respond to, and recover from the threats and hazards that pose the greatest risk.”  They are looking for your ideas about what works best in your community.  They said they recognize the importance of working collaboratively with communities to create a safer and more resilient nation.  Please submit all ideas, comments and votes to PPD8-Engagement@fema.dhs.gov.

They will be offering 2 free webinars. On Thursday April 16th from 2-3 pm ET they are offering an upcoming webinar Easy Ways to Help Prepare Your Family for Disasters.  To join the webinar go to: Adobe Connect Registration Web Link: https://icpd.adobeconnect.com/familyprep1/event/registration.html

The second webinar is called; Resource Development Strategies for Your CERT Program.  This webinar is offered on Wednesday April 22 from 3-4pm ET.  To join the webinar go to: Adobe Connect Registration Web Link: https://icpd.adobeconnect.com/certrd1/event/registration.html

It is important to register in advance for both webinars.  Please make sure also that your Adobe Connect connection works in advance of the webinars.  Firewise Communities have effected change and educated residents effectively about their risk through the years.  Good luck to Firewise communities who apply for this recognition.

BYB
Calling all suppliers, exhibit space is now available at NFPA's Backyards & Beyond Wildland Fire Education Conference. Join us in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, October 22 - 24 at the Sheraton Convention Center Hotel and share your solutions and expertise in wildfire prevention and mitigation with a diverse group of attendees.

NFPA’s bi-annual Backyards & Beyond conference is a great place for community leaders, researchers, insurance professionals, emergency responders, homeowners and others involved in wildfire safety and preparedness to share their knowledge and best practices on key wildfire issues that they can then take back to their communities and workplace.

At the 2013 Backyards & Beyond conference in Salt Lake City, nearly 300 participants attended more than 50 breakout sessions in five different tracks that touched on everything from defensible space and volunteerism to community planning and evacuation. Some of the top names in the industry also provided insight into many of the most talked about wildfire issues today including climate change, wildfire policies and practices, insurance and the environment.

Find out more about the conference today. Play a major role in the conference by becoming an exhibitor. For more information, contact Mark Sorenson or Zenieda Feliciano at 630.271.8210. We look forward to seeing you there! 

According to multiple reports,wildfires are currently burning in various areas across the United States.  The Weather Channel Article posted last week, Wildfires Burn from California to Iowa to North Carolina; Fire Threat Remains High,spoke about fires in states that not only included California and Arizona but also Iowa, Minnesota, North Carolina, Ohio, New Jersey, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Montana, New Mexico and New York.

New Jersey
New Jersey fire posted by Nick Wiltgen on the Weather Channel Website April 2, 2015

Two interesting wildfires/brush fires mentioned that were not large but caused a lot of damage were a brush fire that burned into a parking lot that damaged eight parked cars in Piscataway, New Jersey.  The other fire was a brush fire in a lot in Lockport, Illinois a suburb of Chicago. High southerly wind gusts of up to 25 miles per hour in the windy city along with temperatures in the 70s and low humidity contributed to the rapid spread of the fire into parked semis that caught fire.

Semi Fire
This image of parked semis catching fire because of a brush fire in Illinois was submitted to the Weather Channel Website April 1, 2015

On April 5th, the National Weather Service issued a Red Flag Warning for parts of the Southwestern United States.  With all these reports and predictions, we should not be afraid -- but we should be implementing Firewise changes to our homes and the landscape surrounding our homes to be better prepared in the event of a wildfire.  This is the year we can make plans to have a Year of Living Less Dangerously from Wildfire.

April 6 weather outlook

Join NFPA, America’s PrepareAthon, the U.S. Fire Administration, the U.S. Forest Service and the Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety in a Wildfire Community Preparedness Day Twitter Chat tomorrow, Tuesday, April 7 at 2 PM EDT.

 

Are You Prepared for Wildfire in 2015? from IBHS on Vimeo.

 

The hour-long chat will use the hashtag #WildfirePrepDay and will focus on projects that can be coordinated for Wildfire Community Preparedness Day, Saturday, May 2 and America's PrepareAthon, Thursday, April 30. The conversation will provide information on mitigation, communication and evacuation.

This is a great opportunity to hear about projects, activities and events and get ideas that will help you develop a plan to do something great! 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!

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A pine burns with snow on the ground on the Boise National Forest (Photo Credit: US Forest Service)



 

A sobering post earlier this week on the USDA Blog gives us all a good reason to take stock of our wildfire safety efforts. Robert Westover with the Office of Communications for the USDA Forest Service comments that up until recently, the agency considered wildfires primarily a summer problem with a few regions breaking the trend in early spring and late fall. These days, though, he notes that climate change has affected wildfire season, making it a year-round threat.


Winter after winter, there has been virtually no winter in many areas in the Western US, contributing to a years-long drought, a slow-moving disaster that will impact not only lifestyles and economy in the stricken regions, but also incur ripple effects as agriculture in California, one of our nation's main food suppliers, is impacted.


 

The conditions are ripe for damaging wildfires in much of the country for much longer periods than in the past. There is no time like now to begin to live less dangerously from wildfire. Mr. Westover calls on readers to prevent accidental fires in his blog; and I&#39;ll add that we all should take steps to minimize potential loss from fire in light of our year-round threat. Check out the resources on NFPA's web page to find out what you can do to plan for, act on, and embrace wildfire safety.&#0160;</p>

As we plan to have a “Year of Living Less Dangerously from Wildfire”, we would like to recognize three Firewise communities that have already completed work to renew their Firewise recognition status for 2015.   Some of the projects completed include planning project work, that will be completed later this year and reviewing and updating plans for future community efforts.  It is important to develop a good plan utilizing the Firewise Communities assessment template as a guide. You can work collaboratively with your local authorities having jurisdiction, such as fire departments, to get their expert opinions about what areas the community can work on as a whole in order to improve their resiliency in the event of a wildfire. Just as an architect needs a good plan to build, communities need good fire mitigation plans to make changes that will make the biggest difference.

The first community, Rattlesnake Ridge in Nevada County, California, completed a walk-about with contractors and local authorities having jurisdiction to determine the scope of work on a fuels project that they will be working on.  After obtaining their board’s approval, they will hire AmeriCorps workers to help remove Scotch Broom, a flammable noxious nonnative plant, from their private property and some neighboring property.

The Long Bay Club in Horry, South Carolina, completed a review of the Firewise Process, 2014 results, and 2015 objectives at its Annual Property Owners Association Meeting.

And finally, the La Casa Mobile Home Park in Sarasota, Florida, held an informational meeting for park residents, with the involvement of the Florida Division of Forestry, Sarasota County Fire Department, North Port Fire Department and the La Casa Firewise Committee  Topics discussed were controlled burns and their value, as well as the use of fire resistant plants in landscaping around houses.

There have been many good projects and informational planning sessions hosted by many of our incredible Firewise communities.  If you are interested in learning what your community can do to plan adequately and implement effective changes check out the Firewise website and attend our Backyards & Beyond Conference for the opportunity to network with community members and learn from researchers and wildfire experts from around the United States.  Registration will be open in a few weeks.

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Wildfire burns near Victorville, California (from CBS Los Angeles)




As parts of the United States are just beginning to thaw,&#0160;Southern California’s wildfire season has already begun.&#0160; A fire started in the Mojave Narrows Regional Park and was fanned by moderate winds.&#0160; The fire has been burning towards homes and ranches in the area and prompted the evacuation of homes on Riverside Drive in the unincorporated area of Spring Valley Lake in the Victorville area of San Bernardino County, California.


 

There have been 3 other fires in California this year alone according to the CAL FIRE website : the Stephens Fire in Siskiyou County where over 200 acres were burnt, the Van Dyke Fire in Mono County and the Round Fire in Inyo and Mono Counties where over 7,000 acres were burned by wildfire.


 

Make sure that you are prepared by taking steps now referring to our Firewise Teaching Tools available on our website, to make your homes and communities safer in the event of a wildfire.&#0160; Use our Firewise Teaching Tools&#0160;to learn more about wildfire safety and to share your knowledge with others.&#0160;</p>

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