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2015

North Atlantic

On June 5th 12:00 pm Eastern Standard Time the North Atlantic Fire Science Exchange is hosting  free webinar about online fire resources for fire managers.  The webinar will focus on tools available on the North Atlantic Fire Exchange website, including an overview of our new website and how to access resources like the latest research, modeling tools, what's happening in fire locally, western fire science applications in the North Atlantic, and more.

The presenters, Dr. Inga La Puma and Dr. Nick Skowronski will talk about a variety of topics including:

  • The brand-new North Atlantic Fire Science Exchange website
  • Smoke modeling tools
  • Weather websites
  • The Section B10 website
  • Highlights from the Northeast Forest Fire Protection Compact website
  • The Northeast Forest and Fire Management, LLC Facebook page
  • The FEIS website
  • Western sites (e.g. firelab.org) with applications in the North Atlantic

Register before June 5th to participate. This webinar will share  variety of tools available to Fire Managers in the North East.

North Atlantic
Scott Stevens Americorps 2014 by Dave Crary on the North Atlantic Fire Science Exchange Website

As we move into the “Act” phase of the Year of Living Less Dangerously From Wildfire, the safety of Image1residents and firefighters is foremost on our minds here at NFPA.  One of the products that the National Weather Service, (NWS) provides to improve firefighter safety is the Red Flag Warning.  But just what is a Red Flag Warning?

Red Flag Warnings begin as a Fire Weather Watch.  A Fire Weather Watch means that weather conditions are predicted to occur that will support rapid wildfire growth and rates of spread 24-72 hours from when the watch is issued.  When the conditions are predicted to occur within 24 hours or are already happening, a Red Flag Warning is issued.

So, what are these conditions?  Well, that depends.  In the broad sense, the weather conditions will be high temperatures, high surface winds, low relative humidity, (dry air) and low fuel moistures, (dry vegetation).  However, these vary state to state.

Each year, the National Weather Service coordinates with each state to implement a State Operating Plan related to fire weather services.  According to NWS Fire Meteorologist Chris Cuoco, these meetings take place at the Geographic Area Coordination Centers where the state and federal agencies such as the U.S. Forest Service and Department of Interior are represented. Red Flag criteria and other fire weather products are discussed and set in these meetings.  The Red Flag Warning criteria varies state to state mainly around relative humidity and fuel moistures.   In the humid Southeastern U.S., relative humidity of less than 30% can trigger a Red Flag, but is no big deal in the arid West where critical relative humidity is often in the single digits.  The same goes for fuel moisture values.  And it is usually not any one condition but the combination of these Srh noaa.gov conditions cause Red Flags to be issued.

While the primary purpose of Red Flag Warnings is firefighter safety, fire agencies and land management agencies  also use them for pre-planning, staffing level changes, and if necessary, restrict some public activities such as camp fires and agricultural burns.

The NWS has been active in making the public more aware of these Watches and Warnings.  Cuoco said, “The hope is that when the public is using fire, they will use the caution implied in those products.” 

 photo credit: top  archives.9news.com, bottom  srh noaa.gov

BandB_2015_RegisterNow

As our Year of Living Less Dangerously from Wildfire rolls along, there's a great opportunity to participate in a unique and vibrant learning experience - NFPA's Backyards & Beyond Wildland Fire Education Conference. Acting now to register will not only save you money, but put you in the company of wildfire safety experts, researchers, firefighters, and community sparkplugs all engaged in making our neighborhoods and our nation safer from wildfire.

From insurance incentives to the history of development in the WUI to inspiration for successful relationships, the keynote and special feature speakers will share new perspectives, information and ideas. Nearly 50 educational sessions in a variety of topic tracks will foster learning on topics from community planning to structure design to safe evacuation practices. And the pre-conference seminars promise a deeper dive into assessing home ignition hazards and using GIS for wildfire planning, mitigation and response. 

Register now, and learn what others from around the nation and the world are doing to live less dangerously from wildfire!

!http://a6.typepad.com/6a0162ff1d4766970d01b7c7913fa6970b-320wi|src=http://a6.typepad.com/6a0162ff1d4766970d01b7c7913fa6970b-320wi|alt=Smokey Bear's Cabin|title=Smokey Bear's Cabin|class=asset asset-image at-xid-6a0162ff1d4766970d01b7c7913fa6970b img-responsive!

NFSA's Bruce Lecair (left) and Lubrizol's Dave Kokosenski at Smokey's Cabin



Best known for his role in preventing wildfires, Smokey Bear is bringing his message of fire safety closer to home.


 

Assisting the U.S. Forest Service's beloved mascot with this effort is the California Fire Sprinkler Coalition . A favorite among attendees at the California State Fair in Sacramento (this year's event takes place July 10-26), Camp Smokey is an interactive exhibit showcasing a number of fire-safety principles. Since sprinklers are a requirement in all of California's new, one- and two-family homes and townhomes, the coalition thought fair goers would also enjoy getting up close and personal with these devices. 


 

Learn how the coalition gave Smokey a lesson in home fire sprinklers by visiting the Fire Sprinkler Initiative blog.


 


!http://i.zemanta.com/339338479_80_80.jpg|src=http://i.zemanta.com/339338479_80_80.jpg|alt=|style=padding: 0; margin: 0; border: 0; display: block; width: 80px; max-width: 100%;!Latest issue of NFPA's Fire Sprinkler Initiative newsletter highlights demographics of today's home fire victims

What’s the environmental impact of fires? It sounds like a fairly simply question, but finding quantifiable answers isn’t quite so easy.

Yes, we know that fighting structure fires often requires an average of hundreds of gallons of water, generating run-off that includes toxins released from byproducts of burned household items, and that those toxins are also released directly into the atmosphere. But knowing how to accurately measure and quantify fire’s environmental impact from these and related factors has yet to be identified.

Gren leaf

Through its Environmental Impact of Fire project, the Fire Protection Research Foundation is working to figure all that out. Phase One of the project, which was recently completed, serves as a gap analysis/literature review that documents the data and methodologies currently available to measure environmental impact of fires primarily in structures, but looks at Wildland Urban Interface (WUI) fires as well. The report also reviews cost-benefit, risk-based and life-cycle methodologies, examining the advantages and disadvantages of each.

Phase Two of the project will start to fill knowledge gaps, while the project’s final goal is to quantify the actual environmental impact of a single fire, as well as fires over a period of time.

Ultimately, the findings from the Environmental Impact of Fire project will help better quantify the immediate and direct costs of fire, providing a metric for understanding the social and economic impact of fire and for assessing progress in fire prevention and protection.

Behavior-change_hed
Why do we do we make the choices we do, even if we know they are not particularly healthy or safe? For the answer to that question, fire and life safety educators are turning to behavior change theory in the hope that, by shedding light on what motivates us to do what we do, they can boost their programs’ effectiveness.

Knowing why people make the life and fire safety choices they do “can be the difference between an educational initiative that falls flat and one that succeeds in creating a genuine behavioral shift,” say Karen Berard-Reed, a senior project manager for high-risk outreach in NFPA’s Public Education Division, and Andrea Vastis, a public health educator and consultant.

This is an important development in public education, they say, because too many public education programs rely on changing behavior solely by making audiences aware of risks. The challenge for safety professionals is to identify strategies that not only provide knowledge, but include attitude development and skill-building opportunities for participants. To learn more about the way public education professionals are responding to this challenge, read Berard-Reed and Vastis’ article, “Change Agents” in the May/June issue of NFPA Journal.

Receive the print edition of NFPA Journal and browse online member-only archives as part of your NFPA membership. Learn more about the many benefits and join today.

  MT - 5.26.16

Earlier this month Montana’s Governor Steve Bullock signed a multi-state (Montana, California, Idaho, Nevada, Oregon, South Dakota and Utah) proclamation designating the month of May as Wildfire Awareness Month. Image1In Montana, events and activities have taken place during this month that encourage residents to prepare their homes and property for future wildfires, prevent human-caused fires and the importance of knowing and practicing emergency evacuation routes and the need to develop a family communication plan.

One recent activity included a tour showcasing a completed cooperative effort in the Bitterroot Valley that demonstrated how a public agency, non-profit group and private landowner can combine their efforts to successfully reduce the risk of a wildfire and the potential loss of property; while also increasing civilian and firefighter safety.

That project site included the thinning and removal of beetle-killed timber which created a healthier forest environment and will help reduce a fire's intensity. Participants in the project included a landowner, the Bitterroot RC&D, the MT Department of Natural Resources and the USDA Forest Service. The work will make a significant difference if a fire happens in the area and brings with it a multitude of direct and in-direct benefits. It's a formula for success that could work well everywhere since fire's behavior is indiscriminate as it crosses multiple property owner boundaries.

DforD
The National Building Museum in Washington, D.C. shared some exciting news with us this week. Their Designing for Disaster exhibition has been extended until Sunday, September 13, 2015. 

If you're planning a summer family vacation in the D.C. area, you won't want to miss this interactive and informative exhibit that focuses on the four forces of nature: earth, air, fire and water, and their impact on communities. The exhibit is a call-to-action for citizen preparedness - from design professionals and local decision-makers to homeowners and school-aged children - and an investigation into how and where to build communities that are safer and more disaster-resilient. By visiting the exhibition, you'll learn how to make a real difference where you live. You'll find ways to play an active role in protecting your community, as well as how to protect yourself, your home and property.

NFPA is a proud co-sponsor of the event and has provided numerous materials, resources and information about wildfire preparedness and safety and our Firewise Communities Program. Find out more about the Designing for Disaster exhibition on our webpage, and the next time you're in D.C., stop by. You'll be glad you did! 

As we approach the Memorial Day holiday we remember the sacrifice of so many who have sacrificed so much so that we are safe and enjoy the wonderful opportunity of living in such a wonderful nation.  Many who have lived through horrific wildfires also remember those who gave so much to protect other’s lives and properties.  These individuals, wildland firefighters go in to help when we are leaving.  Some have not come back to loving friends and families making the ultimate sacrifice.

Wildland firefighter memorial
Image from the National Wildland Firefighter Memorial

 

It is everyone’s responsibility to make it safer for our wildland firefighters to do their jobs.  While we expect these firefighters to respond and try to protect our homes, we should be working with them by acting to adopt Firewise Principals before a wildfire event occurs to make our homes safer and their jobs easier.  Many times taking simple maintenance steps such as cleaning leaves and needles out of gutters and off decks, trimming up tree limbs, spacing vegetation, replacing screens with more fire resistive venting systems, making sure that wood piles are not next to the home or under the deck can and does make a difference.  We are not helpless.  We can take action and make effective changes using Firewise Principals.  Perhaps these are a few chores we can do around our house before we have company over.

National Guard fighting wildfire
Photo from National Guard in California

 

 

When a wildfire is approaching your home, if you are asked to evacuate or you leave on your own, put a note on the door so firefighters know you are gone.  When you are asked to leave it is important to leave right away so that you do not try to leave when fire trucks are coming in to your neighborhood and you impede their work.   If you have time take in anything flammable or throw them off the deck, move wood piles garbage cans or anything flammable away from the home.    Move vehicles left behind into the garage or away from the house, and make sure all doors and windows are closed.

Let’s appreciate what they do for us by making their job easier for them as we all act to make this a “Year of Living Less Dangerously From Wildfire.” 

For our brave Wildland Firefighters the NFPA has produced a helpful video called Wildfire Safety.  We wish you all a safe and happy Memorial Day Weekend.

Firefighter Safety in the Wildland Urban Interface

  Collage - 5.19.15

Four years ago, in May 2011, Ashland, Oregon’s inaugural Firewise Communities/USA participant was welcomed into the national program. Later that year, six more communities also completed the program's criteria and since then the City of Ashland has consistently continued to develop new participants. Thus far in 2015, five more communities have received their official national recognition bringing the total number of active communities to twenty-three; all proud to say they're working diligently to reduce their wildfire risk.

Recently, the seven newest communities attended a recognition event at Ashland Fire & Rescue’s Station 2, where the fire department hosted twenty-five guests that included representatives from the new communities and some that have been with the program for multiple years. The event concluded with an acknowledgement and thank you to Ashley Lara, the Firewise Program Coordinator that was moving on to a new role at Jackson County Fire District 3.

As a result of the Firewise program, widespread hazardous vegetation (Italian Cypress, Leyland, blackberry and juniper) has been removed throughout communities and homeowners are taking steps to harden their homes and make them less vulnerable during a wildfire.

Ashland Fire & Rescue has been extremely successfully at getting the communities they serve to participate in wildfire risk reduction activities. They currently have the third highest number of recognized Firewise Communities in a single city - a major accomplishment considering there are more than 1,170 sites throughout the nation.

Just yesterday, NFPA vice president for outreach & advocacy, Lorraine Carli, said to me, "I'm not sure anyone would have ever used my name and Martha Stewart in the same sentence!" And she's right, many of us here probably never would have thought about it, but today we're happy to announce that NFPA is now a regular content contributor for Martha Stewart Living (MSL)!  MS Grilling

As many of you may know, the Martha Stewart brand and mission focus on helping people live a beautiful, artful, creative and rich life everyday. Starting this month, NFPA is excited to share its safety messages with the MSL audience in a continued effort to help people create fuller lives by staying safer from fire and other related hazards.

Each month we'll write about a different fire safety topic and share it with the millions of MSL followers. This month, we write about grilling fire safetyRead the post and write a comment. You can also share it with the ones you love! If you don't think that grilling fires are a problem where you live, read our latest blog post here on Fire Break about grilling fires in the WUI. It's a cautionary tale that explains the importance of keeping safety top of mind as you start up the grill, break open the bag of rolls and prepare the hamburger patties. 

Come June, we'll focus on outdoor party decorations and the safest way to use lighting displays. For everyone living in high-risk wildfire areas, we'll provide some great tips that don't cost a lot and are simple to do. During the summer and beyond, you'll find additional posts on topics such as wildfire safety (including ways to incorporate Firewise principles into your landscaping routine that'll help keep your yards looking beautiful while at the same time reducing your risk for wildfire damage), Halloween and holiday cooking safety

We're looking forward to sharing our knowledge and passion for fire safety with our Martha Stewart Living audience in the many months to come. Won't you join us? We look forward to "seeing" you!

NOTE: Image/caption first appeared on MarthaStewart.com.

Yesterday, NFPA kicked off the grilling season with the launch of its first of two new new grilling safety videos

In our second video, "A Simple Test for Checking Gas Grill Leaks," we share a couple of quick and easy but important tips to prepare your grill before you even start to cook those burgers and steaks.

Prepare my grill, you ask? But whatever do you mean? After a long winter season of hibernation (OK, in some parts of the country!) your grill has been stored away and covered up never to see the light of day until today. It's important to do a complete safety check on the grill to ensure everyone's safety at the next cookout or BBQ.

NFPA refers to this as the "soapy bubble test" and this video takes your though the process step-by-step. Not to mention, it's kind of a cool name, eh? Take a look and let us know what you think! If you're someone who does this each year, let us know. Your diligence is sure to inspire and encourage others to do the same.

 

Find this video and other great information on our grilling fire safety web page at www.nfpa.org/grilling. And share all of the videos with your friends and family. By practicing it each time you grill and sharing your knowledge, you'll be well on your way to a having a safe and fun cookout every day of the year!

Here's to a happy and very safe grilling season, everyone!

Memorial Day weekend is just a few days away and for those of us here in New England, it could not have come at a better time. After enduring what seemed like the longest winter EVER, we can actually smell the flowers and see grass growing again!

With spring in the air most people are already planning for lots of fun outdoor parties and cookouts this weekend and beyond. Are you one of them? If you are (and I know it's true!), then you'll want to check out two new videos from NFPA that will help you kick off the grilling season safely and in style. But before you dive into those burgers, let me ask, do you:

* Know how to turn on the grill safely?
* Know what to do if the grill doesn't ignite or the flame goes out?
* Know how to turn off the grill safely?

You might be surprised at the answers. To find the correct response to these questions, watch NFPA's first of two grilling fire safety videos below or find it on our grilling fire safety web page. We believe that this short, fun video will have you thinking differently about your cookouts and BBQs from now on, AND you'll stay safer each time you fire up the grill.

 

Want more great information? Then check out our full grilling fire safety page where you'll find information about propane and charcoal grills, a great tips sheet that's easy to download and share with friends and family, interesting statistics, and our latest infographic that reminds us why grilling safely is important and should be taken seriously.

Enjoy a safe and happy grilling season, everyone!

Up next: A simple test for checking gas grill leaks.

Now that summer is upon us, we all want to do our part to keep our homes and properties safer in the event of a wildfire but it is so important to act carefully, taking the necessary precautions not to be the cause of a wildfire while trying to do the right thing.  Operating equipment like chainsaws, lawn mowers, and tractors improperly can cause sparks that could ignite a wildfire. We need to act with care to make sure that we are doing the right thing the right way.  A CAL FIRE flyer stated that over 1,600 wildfires are caused in California alone using equipment the wrong way.  You don't want to be the cause of a wildfire by using a mower improperly, like the Golden Gates Estate fire in Florida, or the 22 million dollar Oregon wildfire.

Picture submitted for Wildfire Prep Day activity by Debora Rice from North Fork, California

 

Here are some important tractor use and mowing tips to help you do the right thing the right way: (Remember metal blades hitting rocks can spark a wildfire)

  1. Mow during the cool time of day generally while there is still dew on the ground, not during the day and especially not when the wind is blowing.
  2. Don’t top off fuel tanks.
  3. Make sure spark arrestors are in proper working order and there is no carbon build up.
  4. Keep a shovel and water source or fire extinguisher close by at all times.
  5. When transporting tractors, mowers and recreational vehicles make sure that chains on the trailers are not hitting the pavement as you are driving, throwing sparks.
  6. Take special care when using mowers and tractors in dry grass that can easily ignite.
  7. Remove rocks and metal from the yard that could be hit by the mower and cause sparks.
  8. Keep a cell phone with you and dial 911 in the event of an emergency.

The US Forest Service (with their One Less Spark One Less Wildfire Campaign) along with Betty White created a cute YouTube video that reinforces how you can be more careful as you act responsibly this year while you work and play outside.

DLaitinenMay2015
The Kohala By The Sea (KBTS) Firewise Committee on Hawaii's Big Island honored the Firewise Communities Hawaii coordinator with a special plaque on May 17 in Hilo, Hawaii. Denise Laitinen was honored for her 12 years of service to the community and tireless efforts to promote wildfire safety throughout Hawaii. 

Located along the northwest coast of Hawaii Island, in 2014 Kohala By The Sea became one of only 34 communities in the entire country to maintain its national Firewise recognition for more than a decade. In her role as the Hawaii Firewise Coordinator, Denise provided area residents with Firewise educational materials, taught workshops on creating defensible space, and helped the community identify and implement wildfire prevention projects throughout the community. New property owners within this subdivision are given Firewise construction checklists and building videos when they submit plans to build in the community. In addition to several neighborhood wide mitigation projects such as removing flammable vegetation from a gully, the neighbors work together to ensure their homes have defensible space. 

As part of their efforts for this year's national Wildfire Community Preparedness Day on May 2, the KBTS Firewise committee did an assessment to determine all homes in the neighborhood had visible house numbers, in order to ensure that first responders can find residents in case of emergency. The KBTS is continuing this effort in conjunction with the Hawaii Fire Dept.  Hawaii2015PrepDay

Collaborating with national and state agencies, Denise Laitinen became the first statewide Firewise Communities coordinator in the country more than 12 years ago. Prior to the statewide position, Firewise efforts were implemented at a national level. At a statewide level, Denise has worked closely with communities from Hanalei on Kauai to Ka'u on the Big Island. As Hawaii's first and only Firewise Communities state coordinator, she has served as a role model for other states where similar positions and programs have been implemented. In recognition other trailblazing efforts in wildfire prevention, Denise was nominated as Hawaii County Woman of the Year and to the Hawaii County Women Hall of Fame in 2009. 

 

 

Top photo, left to right: Harold Mayo, Jane Mayo (current KBTS Firewise Committee President), Denise Laitinen, Diana Bonnici, past KBTS Firewise Committee President, and Andy Bonnici. 

Wildfire cover photo NFPA Journal May15 WildfireWatch columnThe May/June NFPA Journal is out and in its latest WildfireWatch column, I reflect on the ongoing debate surrounding the role insurance companies should play in wildfire loss reduction. 

For some backstory, I’ve listened for years to proposals for what insurance companies should be doing to address residential wildfire risk, but often hear little about what they are doing to create positive change.  NFPA, through its Firewise Communities/USA Program® and National Wildfire Community Preparedness Day to name two examples, is working with forward-thinking insurance companies and highlighting positive local change.

I explain what is being done and explore the focus we should all see insurance through when looking at the common threat of residential fire in the wildland-urban interface. 

As we take action to clean up around the homestead after a long winter, let us think about how we can create a Firewise home and landscape, not only focusing on the vegetation surrounding our home, but also the “human treasure” that we simply cannot seem to get rid of.  We all know that someday we

Burning Tires
Tires burning image on Linked in

might need these items.  Many of these treasures, such as old tires, leftover wood, sofas and other furniture items and papers can contribute to debris piles often located in close proximity to the home. This creates a scenario where we have put kindling around the home that will make it easier to ignite if there is a wildfire.  Make sure the items that you are storing do have value.  Hoarding items outside can be just as hazardous as hoarding excess items inside.  The NFPA offers some great resources to help fire service professionals and others with these potentially hazardous conditions. If you choose to keep these items, do not store them next to the home or under the deck, rather put them in the garage or in an enclosed shed.

Even such things as open garbage cans under the eaves, flammable attachments such as trellises with dead vines, coco or rattan door mats, and patio cushions can create hazardous conditions for a home during a wildfire event.   Make sure that your garbage cans have lids and are not located under the eaves of your home. Use nonflammable attachments and remove all dead vegetation away from your home.  If you are going to be away from your home, take door mats and patio cushions inside.

Create a healthy and Firewise homestead this year as you do your spring cleaning so that you can have “A Year of Living Less Dangerously from Wildfire”.

Trashy House 1
Image from Becu website trashy yards
Trashy house 2
Image from Becu website trashy yards

Don't let your home look like this!  Piles of "human treasures"  located in close proximity to a home can act like kindling to a campfire.

Fire breakThe May 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:

  • Highlights of Preparedness Day, including a personal message from President Obama and a photo album that captures the spirit of the day’s events
  • Recommendations about which mulch is safest to use around homes in high risk wildfire areas
  • A link to the Research Foundation’s latest report on WUI fire spread
  • A video that demonstrates the power of burning embers on roofs …

...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.

Firewise Photo Library GoodLandscape6Recent wildfires in Oklahoma have put homes and the vegetation around them in focus.  Earlier this week, the Stillwater News Press ran a great article highlighting Firewise plantings.  It provides background guidance on plant selection and mitigation work around the home for clean-up.

The article positively emphasizes that, “While homeowners take steps to keep from accidentally starting a fire in or near their homes, they also can help protect their homes from wildfire through the plants they establish in their landscapes.”

FW Communities Compatible with NatureThe Firewise Communities/USA Program provides links to state Cooperative Extension Service plant lists and some regional landscape guidance sources.  The program also shares guidance information in the current versions of the Firewise Guide to Landscape and Construction and Communities Compatible with Nature publications. 

I had the opportunity earlier this week to talk with Steve Mattax, Firewise Coordinator with the Oklahoma Forestry Services, about the risk to vegetation around properties.  He shared that, “As Oklahoma has a wide range of environments, homeowners need to select plants that are adapted to the part of the state they live in.  Homeowners should select plants that can survive both the temperatures and moisture regimes of their locale.

He went onto stress that that residents should, “Select plants that are Firewise and fire resistant, because Oklahoma is wildland fire environment.  It is not if a wildfire will occur, but when."

Michele_JeffWhitney_LouJekel.jpg

Last week, I presented with my colleague Lucian Deaton on Firewise and wildfire safety topics at a symposium for continuing education credits for Arizona attorneys as part of the CLE program administered by Arizona State University’s Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law. We were invited as part of a symposium titled The Wildfire Menace: Will the West Learn or Burn? How to Learn From History Instead of Repeating It. The two-day seminar was held at the Salt River Project PERA Club in Tempe, Arizona, to a group of about 70 participants. Lucian and I, along with Faith Berry and Tom Welle with our wildland fire team, were pleased to meet Arizona attorney Lou Jekel, a former NFPA Board member and former member of NFPA's Technical Committee on Forest and Rural Fire Protection.

 

The symposium focused on the critical issue of protecting Arizona’s forests, especially in terms of their value to watersheds. The presentations focused on diverse legal issues that arise from this concern.  Among the presenters were Stephen Pyne (author and regents professor), Kenneth A. Hodson, Esq., Former Chairperson of the environmental and Natural Resources Law Section of Arizona State University (ASU), the Honorable Jon Kyl, former United State Senator, and the Arizona State Forester, Jeff Whitney.  Topics included the important role fire plays in healthy ecosystems as well as the important role homeowners play in mitigating the negative effects of wildfire, which is where Firewise and Fire Adapted Communities concepts come in. Several presenters referred to the Firewise program and noted the more than 60 active Firewise Communities/USA throughout the state where residents are working to reduce fire risks.

 

Look for more information as NFPA staff will be part of a published Law Review symposium in the coming months.

 

Photo credit: Faith Berry, NFPA. From left, Michele Steinberg, NFPA; Jeff Whitney, Arizona State Forester; Lou Jekel, former NFPA Board member.

Wildfires should not only be on the mind of folks in the west as there have been a number of large wildland fires in the Northeastern United States even after the long wet winter.  There were red flag warnings this last week for Massachusetts and parts of Rhode Island.  Many small brush fires were responded to in this area.  According to an ABC Report about the Rhode Island Fire, “The flames broke out just before 11 a.m. Monday morning in a wooded area near Greenville Avenue, right between Route 6 and Route 44. Old tires dumped in the area caught fire creating plumes of black smoke that could be seen for miles. Johnston Firefighters, with the help of at least ten other departments, worked tirelessly to contain the fire. Crews were forced to pull miles worth of hose to reach the area.” Little rain, low humidity levels plus whipping winds contribute to the wildfire threat.

Rhode Island Wildfire
Rhode Island wildfire picture on ABC 6 news

Upstate New York State also suffered from a large wildfire last week.  According to an update from Glenn Coin on his article, Fast-moving wildfire in New York jumps highway, forces evacuations, “The wildfire in the Shawangunk Ridge State Forest ( Cragsmoor, NY) has now spread to 2,400 acres, and firefighters are battling to bring it under control.”  Fifty people were forced to leave their homes.

My friend and former fellow Firewise Advisor Heidi Wagner lives in Cragsmoor. She said that they have not had a fire like this in the area in over 80 years.  She told me that after the fire she and her community with her local fire department are going to be working together on a better communication plan and fire up the Firewise Communities program.  She took care during the event to make sure that she knew where each pet was and had packed their food and medicine in case they had to evacuate.  Which is a reminder that we need to think about our pets.

NY Fire

This is not a picture of a wildfire from out West but New York State.

Remember wildfires can and do happen throughout the United States no neighborhood is immune.  Make sure that you have planned before a wildfire event using Firewise Principles.

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As the Year of Living Less Dangerously from Wildfire campaign transitions from highlighting planning components into the “act” phase, we’re going to be sharing success stories, ideas for Firewise events/activities and explain how actions at the individual home and community level can help both residents and firefighters be safer during wildfires. Act related blogs will continue throughout the summer as part of the year-long theme.

Entering this new chapter is a great opportunity to introduce you to the small community of Aguila, AZ, with a population of approximately 800. The community recognized they have a wildfire risk and organized a clean-up day on Wildfire Community Preparedness Day.

The fire department has been working with residents to help clean around their homes, corrals and out-buildings and moving wood piles and wanted to be a little more aggressive in their outreach and help provide residents with additional assistance. Located in the desert they have a huge problem with brush and tumbleweeds. Area residents have been good about following the suggestions of the fire department and on May 2 they worked together and participated in national Wildfire Community Preparedness Day. The Aguila Volunteer Fire Department supplied the necessary tools, yard bags, and trucks to haul off waste materials and volunteered their time to implement this project. The fire department engaged the community and is looking ahead to the upcoming wildfire season knowing the community and residents are better prepared if a wildfire happens.

The community of Aguila was a recipient of a $500 project funding award sponsored by State Farm; the money was used for their May 2 project.

Southern Fire Exchange

A free one hour webinar is being offered by the Southern Fire Exchange on May 14th from 1 to 2 pm Eastern Standard Time.  This webinar will introduce some of the valuable forecast products developed by the National Weather Service for predicting wildfire and smoke behavior in the Southern United States.

Angela Enyedi, a Meteorologist with the Jacksonville, Florida National Weather Service office and the leads the Jacksonville fire weather forecast program will be presenting. A brief question and answer period will be offered at the end of the webinar.

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Picture from the Southern Fire Exchange Website


Pre-registration for the webinar is required. Once registered, participants will receive an Eventbrite Ticket email containing the webinar link.  On the day of the webinar, click the link to join the meeting.

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As part of the 2015 International Fire/EMS Safety and Health Week, the “Fire Service Safety & Health Week Quiz” Sweepstakes is back! Hosted by NFPA, in coordination with the International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC) and the National Volunteer Fire Council (NVFC), the interactive online quiz reinforces the training messages behind this year’s theme, “Creating a Culture of Safety.”

The quiz will be available online through June 11. Career and volunteer firefighters, EMTs and other fire department employees and members are invited to participate.

Everyone who completes the quiz found at www.nfpa.org/fireservicequiz, and enters a valid email address, will be automatically entered into a sweepstakes; 200 randomly selected participants will win a specially designed challenge coin commemorating this year’s Safety and Health Week.

Winners will be notified via email on June 15th, and must reply with their name, the name of their organization, and a mailing address by June 30th. Good luck!

 Read the full contest rules

Photo collage from Frank Riley     Photo Credit: Frank Riley- Chestatee/Chattahoochee RC&D Council, Towns County, GA

Residents and stakeholders across the U.S. embraced national Wildfire Community Preparedness Day on Saturday, May 2, 2015. The dedication and passion demonstrated by thousands of individuals increased preparedness, reduced risk and raised awareness to a new level. Activities brought hundreds of neighbors together and encouraged collaborative actions in an effort to protect individual homes, neighborhoods and entire communities from future wildfire risk or current post-fire impacts. More than 140 projects were undertaken throughout the nation in that single day, all of which will make both local residents and firefighters safer when wildfires happen.

This past week participants have shared photos, video and details on their PrepDay activities. Similar to a kid in a candy store trying to make a decision, I’ve spent a ton of time trying to decide which ones to highlight and share on WildfirePrepDay.org. It was just too hard to narrow it done to only a few, so starting May 14 and over the next few months we’ll be changing out the photos every few weeks to let you see the range of activities that occurred in hundreds of communities. Visit the page frequently and give them a look! Trust me, you'll be impressed with what was accomplished and you may even find one that you want to undertake during next year’s Wildfire Community Preparedness Day Saturday, May 7, 2016.

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As we review how a community, fire department or individual moves from the planning to action phase in our Year of Living Less Dangerously from Wildfire campaign, I thought of a quote I saw on a The National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) website.  The NCBI is a part of the United States National Library of Medicine, a branch of the National Institutes of Health. Although the paper is a study of enhancing motivation to help individuals, there was a key component discussed in the paper about how medical professionals can help a client adopt or act upon positive changes that make a difference.  The quote states, “Strong commitment alone does not guarantee change. Unfortunately, enthusiasm does not make up for ineptness... Commitment without appropriate coping skills and activities can create a tenuous action plan... Anticipation of problems and pitfalls appears to be a solid problem-solving skill." [DiClemente, 1991.] NCBI

As we take action we must build upon a sound plan based upon Firewise principles that take a holistic look at the home and the landscape surrounding the home.  It is good to have a strong commitment to change, but just as important is to first have that plan in place that has buy in from everyone in the community. It must honestly take a look at the community vulnerabilities to wildfire.  Working together collaboratively creates a well-thought-out, planned course of action. This plan takes into consideration multiple components within the community itself that contribute to action that will enhance community resilience during a wildfire event.  The actions then will create change that truly makes a difference.

Follow the NFPA’s Year of Living Less Dangerously from Wildfire campaign to see how fire departments, communities and individuals can take action.

  LA Fire snippet 2 - May 6 2015
NFPA has six regional directors that promote adoption of NFPA codes and standards by state and local authorities, attend code hearings and legislative sessions, coordinate activities with key constituencies, and identify processes where NFPA's services can improve fire, building, and life safety. They also support research and educational activities and on Saturday May 2, Ray Bizal the southwest regional director that covers AZ, CA, CO. HI, KS, NM, NV and UT attended Wildfire Community Preparedness Day events hosted by the City of Los Angeles Fire Department. Each event was held at a fire station, where neighbors were invited to learn more about protecting their homes in the Wildland/Urban Interface. Presentations provided information about the Firewise Communities/USA program and the LAFD vegetation management program. 

Accompanied by LAFD Battalion Chief Alicia Welch, Bizal attended events throughout the day that were scheduled at Fire Station 12 in Highland Park/Arroyo Seco, Fire Station 19 in Brentwood and Fire Station 98 in Pacoima where the U.S. Forest Service staff from the Angeles National Forest also attended.

Bizal said, "The outreach was fantastic, and those that attended walked away with information about living safely in wildfire prone areas." 

The city of Los Angeles is home to the Santa Monica Mountains, with more than 140,000 residential parcels in an urban interface landscape. The Los Angeles Fire Dept is responsible for inspecting those parcels each year. One of the LAFD goals this year is to actively engage residents living in their wildland/urban interface communities to get involved in the Firewise Communities/USA program.

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The United States Department of Agriculture, US Forest Service announced a free webinar series.  The next webinar, Integrating Social Vulnerability into Planning and Decision-Making, will be hosted on May 6th from 12:00 to 1:00 pm Mountain Standard Time.  The webinar is limited to 100 participants, so they suggest that employees in a work group participate in the webinar together.  The speakers for this webinar presentation include; Laurie Yung, University of Montana, Daniel Williams, USDA Forest Service Rocky Mountain Research Station, Dan Murphy, University of Cincinnati and Carina Wyborn, World Wildlife Fund Luc Hoffmann.

According to the US Forest Service website, “This interactive webinar will explore how to integrate knowledge of social vulnerability into planning and decision-making processes to improve climate adaptation. Knowledge of the drivers of vulnerability can help managers and decision-makers identify and overcome barriers to effective adaptation….In this webinar, we will consider how to capitalize on the different capacities and information needs that occur at different levels within an agency (e.g. national, regional, local) as well as how the timescale of a decision (e.g. responding to an immediate need versus pursuing a longer-term transformation) might influence how social vulnerability is considered in planning.”

This webinar may assist in planning for long term change.  The webinar connection is available 15 minutes prior to the webinar starting. Since participation is limited to 100 attendees, connecting to the webinar early may provide a better opportunity of being able to participate.  Past webinar information is available online on the US Forest Service website.

Just because Wildfire Community Preparedness Day finished up this weekend, that's no reason not to keep the great momentum going! It just so happens that a declaration, signed by seven Western state governors last year (withSouth Dakota joining this year!), designates May as“Wildfire Awareness Month.” This means that residents in Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Nevada, Utah, California, Montana and now South Dakota are being prompted to do their part in helping reducing risk of wildfire damage to theirhomes and neighborhoods before the 2015 fire season kicks into high gear. Wildfire
 
Need some ideas to help you get started? Our website is filled withgreat resources andproject ideas that'll really get your creative juices flowing.  And if your community was one of the more than 300 projects to take place on Prep Day, you just have to let us know!Sharing your success and personal stories and photos with other groups will encourage and inspire them to take the first step in creating safer places to live in their own areas. 
 
Find out more atwww.nfpa.org/wildfire today!

Snippet - Presidential Message - 5.2.15

In a Presidential message posted this morning, President Obama sends greetings to Wildfire Community Preparedness Day participants throughout the nation and emphasizes the role we each play in preparing for fires and minimizing community risks. He asks for continued awareness raising about the causes of wildfires and doing all we can to safeguard our future. Read the full message.

Here at NFPA, we look forward to hearing about the hundreds of PrepDay projects taking place today and sharing them with you in the coming days. Each project being implemented makes residents, communities and firefighters safer from future wildfires.    

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