As an annual renewal requirement of the Firewise Communities/USA® program, community participants must complete the delivery of a Firewise event each year. Events are typically developed using the community’s action plan (created by each board during the initial application process) to address issues identified in their plan and get the program’s community-oriented concepts implemented.
Successful events span a wide range of projects with the board determining which type of event best meets their community’s wildfire preparedness needs. Frequent types of events includes a weekend slash drop-off site with chipping done by resident volunteers; an educational outreach activity; clean-up of a commonly owned property; vegetation thinning along an evacuation route, or neighbors working together to help an elderly or disabled neighbor(s) complete a fuels reduction project at their residence.
Year after year, the more than 1,175 communities participating in the program complete projects that reduce their risk and improve awareness and readiness for wildfires. After many years of program participation, communities often seek out suggestions on how they can broaden the scope of their events; one of those often unexplored opportunities is mentoring neighboring communities that are not engaged in mitigation activities.
Mentoring adjacent communities and encouraging them to take the steps to become a recognized Firewise site broadens the potential benefits for all participants; while positively impacting the survivability across a larger scale of properties, which ultimately enhances the safety of area residents and firefighters. Working collaboratively across property boundaries increases mitigation’s effectiveness and can have a strong impact on a future fire’s behavior. Consider developing a relationship and collaborating on projects with bordering neighborhoods during 2015 - and work together to reduce your cumulative risk. Start the conversation today and begin the mentoring process this year!