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2015

The Firewise team shared exhibit space with the (IAFC) Ready Set Go Program in the exhibit hall at the FRI conference.  Both groups collaborated on getting messaging out to fire department personnel about resources available to them to help residents more effectively prepare in advance of a wildfire event. Many chiefs and department personnel stopped by the booths to pick up information and talk to team members. Booth

The expo featured all kinds of new advances in fire prevention technology, including drones that could be used by fire departments, enhanced mobile command vehicles, new infrared heat sensing technology, virtual fire truck driving applications and more.  A pink fire truck even made an appearance for breast cancer awareness.

4The conference was well-attended, and the message shared by the NFPA’s Firewise team members and the IAFC Ready Set Go team was well-received.  Many attendees shared that they appreciated the NFPA’s presence and support of their efforts to work with communities to meet the growing wildfire challenge faced by fire departments and communities in the future.

In part 1 on Friday, Firewise How-To explored the effects of drought on vegetation.  In part 2, How-To explains where drought can have the most impact on your property and what you can do about it now.

Firewise HIZ 0-5ft non flamable focusWhat Can Be Done?

While regular irrigation can be a useful strategy, local water restrictions may make this difficult. If the drought is persistent, irrigation may not be sufficient to keep vegetation moisture levels up. 

In adopting Firewise practices, an initial step is to focus on the 0- to 5-feet zone around your structure and assess the risk for any vegetation within the zone that could act as a fuel and allow fire to reach your home.

This zone is the “inner sanctum” of what is referred to as the Home Ignition Zone (HIZ), which includes the area surrounding your home within the first 100 to 200 feet.  You then have two choices: The first is landscaping this area with drought-resistant plants; and the second is to remove combustible sources from this inner zone, to create an ember barrier. 

Firewise HIZ landscapingAs you move away from the home into the 5- to 30-feet zone within the HIZ, consider clumping of vegetation to permit adequate spacing, and perform “limbing-up” of trees by removing branches that are 6 to 10 feet from the ground. This can keep ground fires from reaching a tree’s lower branches where they can then climb into higher vegetation.

In this “middle ground” of the HIZ, don’t overlook grasses or think that they can’t pose as much of a fire risk as trees and forests.  Grass is considered a “one-hour fuel” because of how quickly it can lose its moisture content in dry conditions.

Be sure to keep grasses mowed, and place breaks in your landscape, such as gravel paths or a stone walkway, which can lead a grass fire to burn out before it can advance to a structure or favorite shrub or tree. Firewise landscaping grasses and shrubs 

Remember, decreasing the overall vegetation on your property in times of drought can increase the chances for the choice vegetation that remains to survive, because there will be less competition for available moisture and soil nutrients.

Take Aways

To assure the best results for your property during a drought, learn more about the recommended Firewise principles for the various regions within the Home Ignition Zone around your property, and then put them into practice.

Also consider sharing these practices with neighbors. Your collective actions can go a long way toward creating a community that is prepared to combat wildfire risk, especially when conditions make the risk of wildfire greater.

You can learn more about which plants in your area are more resistant to drought, and landscaping practices that can reduce your property’s risk from wildfire

You can also connect with your state’s forestry agency Firewise Liaison

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Read previous posts in the Firewise How-To blog series.  

Photo Credits: Firewise Program

In response to blazing wildfires in the West, NFPA has released seven tips for reducing the risk of losing your home to wildfire. The goal of the collection is to dispel the notion that there 7 Firewise Tipsis nothing you can do to increase your home's chance of survival in the event of a wildfire. 

The tips are centered around defense against stray embers, which account for more than half of homes destroyed during wildfires. These strategies include moving flammable materials away from dangerous areas and sealing any entrance points to the home. For example, mulch and branches should be raked and trimmed to a safe distance away from the house, furniture should be brought inside and all vents, doors and windows should be closed to stop embers from entering. Check out the video below to get the full list of tips from Michele Steinberg, NFPA's Wildland Fire Operations Division Manager.

Materials have been provided to the media to include in related future coverage in the hopes that reporters will assist in the public education effort about wildfire preparedness.

While these are certainly not the only things that should be done to fully guard against home loss, the aim is to provide the public with at least a basic knowledge of what they can do to protect their property. For more information about what steps should be taken before, during and after a wildfire, visit NFPA's page on wildfire emergency preparedness.

Please also visit the Firewise website for more wildfire resources.

With extended spells of dry weather and too-little rainfall, drought is in the news. Those who live in drought-prone terrain know that persistent dry vegetation can pose a risk to the structures they surround.
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But even if you live in a relatively moist area, water conservation, healthy landscapes, and wildfire-risk are valuable considerations to keep in mind. 

To understand the effects of drought around structures, it’s important to understand what drought does to vegetation, where it can have the most impact on your property, and what you can do about it now. 

In part 1, we’ll explore how drought impacts vegetation and fire risk.  In part 2 on Monday, we’ll explain the Firewise principle solutions you can employ to make a difference.
 
What Does Drought Do?

Simply put, drought effects the moisture levels in living and dead vegetation that are in your surrounding environment and around structures.  The rate of change on moisture is measured in unit-hours for grasses, small-diameter trees, and wider logs.

As moisture decreases, the probability that vegetation will ignite and burn more rapidly increases.  In forestry terms, such vegetation is then referred to as “fuel.”

NWCG pc April Deming, NPS 2014_09_09-19_36_23_966-CDTMoisture in live vegetation is measured by weighing a piece of the plant and then kiln drying that same piece and weighing it again.

The difference indicates the vegetation’s current “fuel moisture” and this figure, combined with wind, temperature, and relative humidity, helps to determine “Red Flag Warnings” that you may hear of in the news.  

Persistent drought stresses trees and plants, making them more susceptible to fire, insects, and disease because they lack the internal moisture to counter these threats.

Drought also is a factor in the “full-year fire season.”  A lack of moisture in warmer months stresses vegetation and leaves it dry when it enters natural dormancy during winter months. 

Check back on Monday when Part 2 will explain the solutions you can employ to make a difference.

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Read previous posts in the Firewise How-To blog series.  

Photo Credit: New Jersey Forest Fire Service; NWCG Photo Gallery

During this Year of Living Less Dangerously from Wildfire, we explore what it means to embrace change that creates resiliency.  Embracing change to better prepare for a wildfire event means accepting and acknowledging the risk, understanding what needs to be done to lessen the risk and holding tightly to good principles based on scientific research to make these changes a part of your lifestyle.

Explore how you can embrace change! Learn what piece you Puzzle have to solve the wildfire disaster puzzle, whether you are a fire fighter, insurance agent, community leader/legislator or resident.  Everyone holds a piece.

As we transition from the "Act" phase of this year's campaign, to "Embrace", you'll find great ways to make changes that can help you become safer from wildfire. Review the highlights of what makes a successful Firewise Community. Engage youth in a new community service activity debuting September 1st. Participate in America's PrepareAThon on September 30. Celebrate NFPA’s Fire Prevention Week in October. Attend the upcoming Backyards and Beyond ® Conference.  All of these activities and more are ways you can embrace a safer lifestyle, no matter your age or profession. Take hold of your piece and be a part of the wildfire solution!

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  Pine, CO 2 - 8.27.15

The Preserve at Pine Meadows, a Firewise Communities/USA recognized community in Pine, CO recently worked with the CO State Forest Service to produce a video that chronicles their journey after the Hi Meadow Fire in 2000; a catastrophic high intensity canopy fire that burned close to 11,000 acres and destroyed 51 homes, to a community that's actively working to make their properties safer and more fire resilient. 

For today, I’m going to take on the persona of a fictional movie reviewer and tell you this is a must see video that will encourage and empower wildland/urban interface residents to get involved and work collaboratively with stakeholders to mitigate their wildfire risk. But heed this warning: Watching this video will cause a contagious fever that will not go away until you and your neighbors get involved with your local/state forestry agency or fire department, and that fever morphs into a power that transforms properties and the surrounding landscape.

One of the video’s highlights is Randy Clapp, the President of the Preserve at Pine Meadows HOA, he instantly draws you in as he traverses thru his community’s story following the fire. His delivery is that of a neighbor who instantly became a life-long friend, as he shares quotable quotes throughout the almost seven minutes of motivational conversation with Carli Morgan, a forester with the CO State Forest Service. Together, they take you through the projects that have evolved over the past fifteen years since the fire. 

Clapp eloquently tells others to, “Get educated on the subject (of wildfire), take the initiative, plan your work, and work your plan!”  He also describes how, “Once people see the end product (of mitigation), they want it done to their property, it really looks beautiful.”

Take seven minutes out of your day and give this video your attention, or even better share it on your community’s web page or at your next homeowners meeting, then send Randy and Carli a thank you card for their gentle mentoring that got you moving down a similar path!

EnergyThe United States Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources posted a notice about a hearing on Thursday August 27th at 11:30 am Pacific Daylight time. The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee will hold a field hearing in Seattle to receive testimony on opportunities to improve the organizational response of federal agencies in the management of wildland fires. It will be held at Seattle University - Pigott Auditorium, Su Campus Walk, Seattle, Washington 98122.

According to the website, “The roots of the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources go back to one of the first standing committees appointed by the Senate -- the Committee on Public Lands. Although the chronology reflects a succession of name changes, the jurisdiction of the original Committee on Public Lands has been in continuous existence for over 170 years." One of the first efforts of this committee was the Louisiana Purchase.

Opening remarks will be made by Senator Maria Cantwell (D-Washington), ranking member of the Committee.  Members of the witness panel include Tom Zimmerman, president of the board of directors of the International Association of Wildland Fire; Dr. Michael Medler, spokesman for Firefighters United for Safety, Ethics and Ecology; Dr. Peter Goldmark, Commissioner, Washington State Department of Public Lands; Nick Goulette, Executive Director of the Fire Adapted Learning Network; and Gary Berndt, Kittitas County (WA) Commissioner. For more information about the hearing and this committee, visit their website

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Last week, I gave a webinar with the Green Builder folks to discuss how builders, designers, developer, architects and landscape architects could all help to build safer in areas prone to wildfire. While it is great to build safety into a brand new home or subdivision with the opportunity to start from scratch, it's also very possible - and often not very difficult nor expensive - for folks living in fire country to make a difference around their homes.

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The fire science research clearly shows that what people do to their homes and immediately around their homes - within as little as 30 feet from the structure perimeter - makes a huge difference in whether the home will ignite. A home that doesn't ignite won't burn - so why not take steps to give your home a fighting chance to survive?

Simple things you can do today include clearing roofs, gutters and deck surfaces of debris like leaves and needles; raking out flammable mulch at least 5 feet away from your home, deck or porch; and trimming back any overhanging tree limbs or bushes that touch the house. It's the little things that you can do that will make a difference - because it's the little things - namely embers - that really cause big problems. This image (courtesy www.extension.org and IBHS) points out vulnerable areas like roof valleys and re-entrant corners that can easily be treated by the homeowner. See more tips in the Firewise toolkit here.

If you want to see how quickly those little embers can cause big problems right near your home, check out the recording of the webinar below. Feel free to skip ahead to 16:50 to see the IBHS ember test highlights and hear more about what you're seeing. There IS something you can do to help your home survive a wildfire. Act on this information today!

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I saw an interesting article on the FEMA website that referenced a financial planning guide that is free to download from the American Red Cross.  The guide addresses the need to make financial plans before a wildfire disaster.  We are aware that the better we prepare before an event, the more resilient we will be when a disaster such as a wildfire occurs.  Financial planning is an important part of acting proactively before any disaster.

Some key areas discussed in the online guide are:

  1. Developing a general family disaster plan, including creating a disaster supplies kit, assessing your property’s disaster vulnerability and creating evacuation and communication plans.
  2. Protecting your property, including having adequate insurance and implementing mitigation efforts.
  3. Protecting your health and life, including understanding what is and is not covered by health, disability and life insurance policies
  4. Protecting your loved ones, including estate planning and creating a living will.
  5. Protecting your income, including managing debt and understanding government benefits after a disaster. 
  6. Protecting your records, including what to keep and how to store it.
  7. Recovering from a disaster, including what to do on a financial basis in the event of a disaster.

Linda Masterson's BookFirewise has a wonderful resource available online as part of the 2014 virtual workshop series, that can help you survive a wildfire financially:How to Survive a Wildfire, Get Prepared, Stay Alive, and Rebuild Your Life.  Author Linda Masterson shares her first hand experience about living through a wildfire in 2011, how she rebuilt her life and what she would have done differently.  She shares some excellent tips with homeowners so that they don't make the same mistakes that she did.   

Make sure you know your stuff by taking a home inventory of your furnishings and possessions. Seems like a difficult task? Well, there’s an app for that! (Android or iPhone). Also check out State Farm’s inventory checklist.

As we take action to make this a Year of Living Less Dangerously From Wildfire, financial planning is an important part of the process.

Green Builder Media hosted a webinar this past week to help builders, remodelers, architects and consumers make better choices in design and materials that are environmentally sound, and safer from wildfire.

The webinar, “Building Safer in Natural Areas – Firewise and Wildland Fire,” was presented by Michele Steinberg, NFPA’s Wildland Fire Operations Division Manager, who discussed concepts and techniques around siting, designing, building and maintaining homes and neighborhoods to resist ignition from wildland fire. Additionally, she explained how Firewise techniques can help reduce exposure to wildfire threat.

Research has shown that well-built homes and well-designed landscapes are much more likely to survive a wildfire. The building and design community has a lot to offer to help solve the challenge of home destruction in a wildfire. This is important information because the U.S. Forest Service has confirmed that wildfire seasons are increasing in length and intensity. 

This webinar is now available for viewing if you missed it, or want to watch again! 

 

Firewise helps neighbors talk to neighbors about community wildfire threats.  But, what if your neighbor is far away and your “community” is remote?
Firewise Photo Library Wildfire19 image pulled 21Aug15
The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is encouraging rural homeowners to be Firewise and the benefits are clear.

Multiple local news outlets have reported in the state that, “As more homes are built in the woods and fields of Minnesota, existing firefighting resources are less able to protect everyone’s property while trying to control a wildfire.”  The answer provided is DNR’s Firewise program and its focus on access, site, structure, and burning practices to help home survivability.

I had the opportunity earlier this week to talk with Linda Gormanson, Wildfire Prevention Supervisor and Firewise State Liaison with Minnesota DNR, about their outreach to rural communities and how Firewise recognition can be a valued tool.

Firewise Photo Library Community Workshop Image pulled 2July15 ComWorkshops10She shared that, “We connect with homeowners via rural fire departments, vendor shows, forestry field days, and community and home association meetings.  With hands-on demonstrations working in the critical home defensible zone, we can better explain the principles of Firewise.”

The Firewise program recognizes many rural and seasonal communities, even some in unincorporated areas.  You don’t need to be a traditional planned-development HOA to be Firewise. 

In October, 2014, Firewise hosted a virtual workshop on "Improving Access for Wildland Firefighters," which focused on rural community preparedness and successes, in Ohio.  Its worth watching. 

If wildfire threatens, Firewise and the larger Fire Adapted Communities concept can be the tools that bring your neighbors together for successful community preparedness, especially in rural areas. 


Photo Credit: The Firewise Photo Library
 

Working as a wildland firefighter, resident or contractor on fuel reduction projects to make communities safer in the event of a wildfire can be hazardous.  Injuries can occur while completing this work.  Would you know when to seek medical attention and report what might initially appear to be a small injury? Can injuries left untreated have more serious consequences?

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Tiny hole in the nomex of the injured seasonal forestry technician. Picture from Wildland Fire Lessons Learned Webpage
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X-ray of injury Photo from Wildland Fire Lessons Learned Website

While reading a three page article from Wildland Fire Lessons Learned, Brush Cutter Injury, I learned about an injury that happened to a seasonal forestry technician who was working to maintain the integrity of a fuel break in a park.  As he was cutting brush with a group at the recreation center, something hit his arm and he felt “pins and needles sensations” from his fingertips to his shoulder -- the same sort of sensation a person gets when they hit their funny bone.  He removed his Nomex shirt to examine a small puncture wound on his right arm.  He reported the injury to his supervisor and they took care of what appeared to be a small wound. However, the tingling sensation did not go away, so he was taken to a hospital. Upon an x-ray examination it was revealed that a small piece of metal was embedded in the forestry technician’s arm.  Surgery was required to remove the piece of metal and after a recovery period of three weeks the technician went back to work.

The article discussed lessons learned from this incident that we can all learn from:

  • What was done well

1. A Job Hazard Analysis had been completed prior to this fuel reduction project being implemented.

2. The project had an approved ICS-206 completed and available. The safety briefing conducted prior to beginning work covered what to do in the event of an emergency.

3. All employees were wearing all the required Personal Protective Equipment for the project.

4. A stocked first aid kit was available on the Park’s Type 6 Engine and the employees knew its location.

5. Use of Multimedia Messaging Service (MMS) (also known as text/picture/video messaging), provided updates and images, particularly the X-rays, to all relevant parties quickly and effectively.

6. The Park maintains employee emergency contact information in the event of an incident.

  • Overall Lessons

1. Prior to commencing fuel reduction work with a brush cutter, inspect the area and clear it of debris that may cause hazardous issues.

2. Consider alternative methods of fuel reduction.

3. Subsequent investigation revealed that the brush cutter did not have a large deflector kit installed. Such large deflector kits have been ordered and will be utilized.

Most importantly, if an injury does not feel right—regardless of how seemingly insignificant—report it and have it examined.

Americans across the country were saddened by the tragic loss of three U.S. Forest Service firefighters in Washington State yesterday.  It brings home the message, once again, on how dangerous that job is and that we have a long way to go to reduce the dangers and risk with these super intense fire conditions.  Our thoughts and prayers are with the families of those lost and injured. Wildland firefighter foundation ribbon

For those of us from the Fire Service family, incidents like these hit home especially hard.  We know how much firefighters train, how much safety is imbedded in everything they do and how hard they work to keep themselves and us safe from the effects of wildfire.

This is why we push so hard with the Firewise program and training and education we offer from NFPA.  We need residents and neighbors and whole communities to work together to help reduce the risk to their lives and properties.  Because, in the end, when communities do that vital work, they make a safer working environment for firefighters.  This is a major tenet of being Fire Adapted, a significant piece to the Cohesive Wildland Fire Management Strategy.

So while we all mourn the loss, let’s do what firefighters do whenever things like this occur.  Let’s learn the lessons and put them into practice.  Let's honor them by making a safer working environment for firefighters.

(image: Wildland Firefighter Foundation)

Fire break augustThe August issue of Fire Break, NFPA’s Wildland Fire Operations Division newsletter, is now available for viewing. In this issue, we focus on our October Backyards & Beyond Wildland Fire Education Conference in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina! Inside you’ll find:

  • A link to the descriptions of the special presentations and keynote address 
  • Registration information
  • Information about the exhibitors    
  • Descriptions of the nearly 50 education sessions  

...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.

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 Assessing Wildfire Hazards in the Home Ignition Zone will be offered Oct. 20 and 21 at the conference in Myrtle Beach, SC.  The course content reflects the latest in research and investigative findings from trusted sources like Dr. Jack Cohen of the USDA Forest Service Missoula Fire Science Laboratory and Dr. Steve Quarles from the Insurance Institute for Business and Home Safety, (IBHS).  Besides getting the latest scientific based information, attendees will also be able to obtain a Certificate of Education Achievement from NFPA for a nominal fee.

Teaching along with Dr. Cohen will be wildfire expert Pat Durland.  “This is the only standardized nationally recognized mitigation course in the country”, Durland said.  “There is a lot of misinformation and disinformation out there, but this course boils it down to basic elements”, he said.  “It dials you in on what’s important”. 

With over 35 years of wildland fire experience, Durland knows what he’s talking about when he speaks to our ability to reduce risk from wildfires.  “Losing homes to wildfire is not inevitable, this is a problem we don’t have to pass on to future generations.”  “Wildfire responds so well to pre-event mitigation compared to other natural hazards."

In this course, practitioners, stakeholders and residents will learn how to assess wildfire risk around a home or structure and then steps they need to take to mitigate those risks.  By modifying the area around their homes, which for many, can be accomplished in a few weekends, they can greatly improve their odds of surviving a wildfire.

So, plan on attending the Home Ignition Zone course where you can talk one-on-one with the experts. To register vist: www.nfpa.org/backyardsandbeyond .

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I know that we all want to make sure that our family, friends, pets and community are safe.  By growing in knowledge about sound principles to be acted upon we can implement change to protect those we care about and our property from the devastating effects of wildfire. 

What better environment to learn about the latest research, products and methods to motivate successful local wildfire preparedness than NFPA's Backyards & Beyond Conference?

Some of this year’s unique class offerings include the latest research about how wildfire spreads, land use planning, GIS mapping, preparedness for children’s services, rural communities and agricultural fires, how to use LIDAR data for community assessments and more. 

The speakers are from Massachusetts, South Carolina, Georgia, Idaho, Colorado, California, Texas and other locations, just to name a few. They reflect the diverse challenges and solutions that you can discover in these sessions and bring back to your community.

Not only can you network with other successful Firewise community members, researchers and fire department officials, but you can also enjoy the beautiful surroundings of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.  I think you'll want to enjoy this opportunity with family and neighbors as you explore the area and learn about wildfire preparedness. 

Register soon to insure that you get the early bird discount rate. Don't miss your opportunity to be a part of the only conference that brings together all who are affected by wildfire.

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Since 2006, the Firewise Communities/USA Recognition Program has shared its quarterly How-To newsletter with participating communities in more than 40 states. Countless residents have learned about Firewise principles from the newsletter while mastering “how-to” become more Firewise.

FWHowTo Spring 15 2Now, with many Firewise Communities increasingly using social media to share helpful tips and preparedness lessons with residents and neighbors, the program is changing its newsletter format to keep up.

 

Starting this month, we’re moving the valued content of How-To from a quarterly newsletter to recurring blogs that you’ll see here two to three times a month on FireBreak.

 

The new “How-To” logo banner you see above will brand this unique content, and an archive of blogs will be listed chronologically for quick and easy connection to past stories.

 

As each quarterly season unfolds, you’ll see blogs touting “Firewise Communities in the Spotlight,” in which we’ll share their best practices for success; insightful “Q&A"; “Firewise Leader” pieces on how the Firewise program’s resources can be used; and “Around the Firewise Home” information focused on sharing the latest science and preparedness guidance for your own knowledge and for presenting to your neighbors.

 

Our coming installment of “Around the Firewise Home” will offer guidance on how drought affects vegetation, as well as lessons learned from communities that have already renewed in 2015, steps communities can take to mentor neighboring communities — and much more.

 

Toward the end of each quarter, “Firewise by the Numbers” will highlight new and renewed communities, along with the investments they’ve made and projects they’ve accomplished.

 

Firewise FacebookAs we post these blogs, we encourage you to share them on your community’s Facebook page or Twitter feed. Feel free to use the content in your community newsletter, or via links in community-wide e-mails.

 

We hope this new format will help you to get the safety conversation going in your community as you strive to make a difference in the wildland/urban interface.

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NASA image courtesy Jeff Schmaltz, MODIS Rapid Response



 

The magnitude of the amount of acres burned in Alaska this fire season (over 5 million acres) was highlighted in photographs from space. According to the NASA article, +Terra captures Alaska Wildfires,  +”This natural-color satellite image was collected by the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) aboard the Terra satellite on August 06, 2015. Actively burning areas, detected by MODIS’s thermal bands, are outlined in red.”


 

From the image you can see the amount of smoke produced by the fire.  It has been reported that the thick smoke has hampered firefighting efforts of the smoke jumpers in Alaska.  The top cluster of fires are in the Hughes area and the bottom group of fires are known as the Middle Yukon/Ruby area fires.  More information about the wildfires in Alaska can be found on the Alaska Wildland Fire Information Website.   They list a pdf that is updated to show total acres burned .


 

Pictures of the large wildfires from the western states are also available on this site.&#0160; Satellite images can be a helpful tool to firefighters to help pinpoint the fire&#39;s location and more importantly the direction of movement and spread. &#0160;&quot;These satellite images are frequently used to bring greater situational awareness to the incident meteorologist at the site of a fire,” says NOAA’s Mark Ruminski, the fire weather team leader. “The satellite data are especially useful because they give officials an overview of the fire situation and allow them to position fire fighting resources in the areas that need them most.”</p>

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Attendees at this October’s Backyards & Beyond Conference in Myrtle Beach, SC, are going to learn about building high energy relationships from a fire chief whose experience with wildfire preparedness and prescribed fire taught him how to harness “win-win” results for his community. 

The keynote speaker is Fire Chief George Baker, Ret., of Mashpee, MA, who will explain the ups and downs to the success of the Mashpee National Wildlife Refuge Habitat Management and Fuels Reduction program based on Bruce Schneider's Core Energy model of seven levels of energy and four George Bakerenergy blocks.

For some backstory, I spoke with Chief Baker and he shared that a great lesson from his fire service days – which he will present in Myrtle Beach – was his initial view on prescribed fire requests from a “win-lose” prospective.  As he put it, “They” wanted to burn and he opposed the plans because he saw the introduction of fire as high risk. 

Chief Baker explained that when he instead began to see “They” as “Us” and the ability for two sides to have different approaches to the same goal that he moved to a “win-win” focus, gaining an environmental win for the refuge and a win for fuel reduction that decreased fire risk to the community. 

His keynote will explain how to positively engage yourself to get others in your community to win.  Attendees will leave with an understanding that “how they show up” can power a group to success.

  BY&B 15 BrochureNFPA's Backyards & Beyond Conference will be held October 22-24 in Myrtle Beach, SC. 

Learn about the pre-conference training classes; the various educational sessions and focus tracks that will be held over the three days; and the keynote and featured presentations planned for the conference.  

Register for the conference online and secure your spot today. 

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Forest fire detection camera from New Zealand from ffti.com.au



 

Spotting a wildfire early can help fire departments put it out sooner, keeping the fire smaller and more manageable in many cases.&#0160; An article in the San Francisco Gatespoke about new camera systems that are monitored by the Marin County Fire Department to spot wildfires in the area.&#0160; According to the article, eight California counties now have cameras such as these mounted on top of peaks and towers to aid in the detection of wildfires.&#0160; These new “camera lookouts” supplement manned watch towers.&#0160; The benefit of utilizing the cameras is that they can be posted in more remote areas where fires are difficult to detect.


 

Inanother article from Butte County, California, the cameras are beneficial because they can provide 24 hour coverage 7 days a week.&#0160; They can scan up to 15 miles in any direction and they can pinpoint the location of the fire which provides for rapid response time.


According to the article, “In the event of a fire, Chief Officers can go online and switch to a live video mode, to zoom into the location of the smoke. They'll help determine how significant a fire is and how to allocate resources.”


 

Early detection of wildfires is important to manage the size of the fire to minimize losses.&#0160; Implementing Firewise changes to your home and landscape is another important a defense to minimize loss to wildfire.&#0160; Do you know how to make change that can make a difference?&#0160; Visit the Firewise website  to learn more about how you can act to insure that we all have a Year of Living Less Dangerously from Wildfire.</p>

For months you've tracked the days until your vacation begins; anticipating the departure date has been similar to a child waiting for Santa to arrive. Image1Trip insurance was purchased to cover any costly airline hiccups; sunscreen and bug spray packed to keep you incident-free, every possible proactive step taken to ensure your experience is awesome! With those boxes now checked, can you also say you’ve taken similar precautions in getting your house ready should a wildfire strike when you’re lying in a hammock 1,200 miles away? 

Whether it’s a week-long trip, or the summer at your family’s lakefront cabin, taking time to invest in a few simple tasks will go a long way in making your home more resilient should a wildfire happen in your absence.

Add these easy steps to your vacation to-do list and help keep embers that can ignite homes at bay; then treat yourself to some extra winks during that daily vacation nap:

  • Remove outdoor furniture cushions and the umbrella from your deck, patio or porch and move them inside during the time you’re away
  • Roll up the welcome mats and bring those indoors too
  • Disconnect your grill and fire pit’s propane tanks and move those into your garage or storage shed
  • Bring in the giant flag you proudly display from the deck railing and stash it in the mudroom
  • Roll garbage cans and recycling bins into the closed garage, or move them at least 30’ away from the home’s furthest extending exterior feature
  • Walk around your home and look for flammable materials or items that can be stored away from the exterior of the home during the time you’re on vacation

Those were just a sampling of the small things that can make a significant difference in getting you back into your personal castle when vacation time ends. Little actions can play a big role in keeping your home safer during a wildfire!  Visit firewise.org to learn more.

 

 

 

GbAs wildfires burn in California and across many communities in the U.S., Green Builder Media will host a free webinar presented by NFPA on Wednesday, August 19, 2015 at 2:00 pm EDT to help builders, remodelers, architects and consumers make better choices in design and materials that are environmentally sound, and safer from wildfire.

The webinar, “Building Safer in Natural Areas – Firewise and Wildland Fire,” will be hosted by Michele Steinberg, NFPA’s Wildland Fire Operations Division Manager, who will discuss concepts and techniques around siting, designing, building and maintaining homes and neighborhoods to resist ignition from wildland fire. She will also explain how Firewise techniques can help reduce exposure to wildfire threat.

Research has shown that well-built homes and well-designed landscapes are much more likely to survive a wildfire. The building and design community has a lot to offer to help solve the challenge of home destruction in a wildfire. 

This is important information because the U.S. Forest Service has confirmed that wildfire seasons are increasing in length and intensity. A recent study published in Nature Communications indicates that there is “a significant lengthening of fire weather seasons across 25.3 percent of the planet's vegetated lands, leading to the elevation of mean fire season duration by up to 18.7 percent.” The study also states that, “the locations, which have become prone to burning due to the long periods of fire weather, also increased by 108.1 percent.”

Join this important information sharing webinar. Register today.

FW Urban Legends Workshop PosterYesterday’s virtual workshop was a great success, with over 100 participants learning from Pat Durland, as he put wildland urban legends to the test. 

If you missed the event, you can view the YouTube video of the workshop from its site page.  

We know that many Firewise Communities are hosting “watch parties” that will bring together residents to watch the workshop and share in discussion.  We encourage others to follow this example and use it as a great educational tool about wildfire risk. 

In the workshop, the combustibility of window drapes; the risk from aspen trees; vulnerabilities of wooden fences attached to the home; the use of pool water against ember fires; the strength of grass fires; and other topics were explored.  Great follow-up questions from the participants about ember casting, windows, vents, and fence ordinances added to the education from the hour workshop.

         
 
Learn from the virtual workshop and take any questions – or additional wildland urban legends you have heard – to Firewise’s Facebook page.  A question from Thursday is already up about ember casting.  Add to the discussion and make your community safer from wildfire today.

YLLDW Banner
As we act to have a Year of Living Less Dangerously from wildfire by hosting Firewise events, trying to find a venue  to share the Firewise message with others can be challenging.  Where do you go to get the word out?  When selecting a venue safety and ease of access are primary concerns.  As you choose your site for the meeting make sure there is plenty of safe parking, no serious safety hazards and facilities such as safe clean restrooms.

Many times selecting community meeting locations can be fun and creative.  Many organizations relish the opportunity to be helpful or to give back to the community by providing a meeting space for a set time.   A Firewise event or booth makes helpful, valuable information available to residents in the community which is beneficial.  Pencil

When you ask a facility manager to use the site be specific about your request.  Know in advance of your meeting request, what day the event will be held along with the time, potential number of attendees, and any specific needs such as a projector or other audio visual equipment.  Some facilities will help you with your needs for free but also be prepared to pay a deposit or a key deposit.  Some facilities may require you to sign a contract.  Pay attention to the contract and ask questions before the event.  Make sure that you have asked about everything you will need long before the day of the event such as chairs and tables etc.

On the day of the event Remember you are responsible for the facility while you are using it. Make sure that you are on time to set up.  Follow all the rules about noise, parking and anything else theBroom facility has asked you to be mindful of.  Clean up any trash or wipe up spills and leave the facility clean.

Some sites Firewise communities have used to share the fire prevention message are as diverse as the communities themselves and include: fire station bays, garden clubs, community centers, parks, recreation centers, libraries, outdoor theaters, grange halls, private property, open space areas or shared green areas, historic buildings, restaurants, lodges, golf courses, marinas, and more.   A community meeting is s good way to share how your actions have made a difference in your community and at the same time be able to share the value of those actions with those who are not knowledgeable about Firewise.  Take your actions to a new level by hosting a community meeting to share your success.

From Rapid City, South Dakota, comes a great example of taking action to reduce wildfire risks with a partnership approach. Homeowner Judy Allen, Rapid City Fire Department Lieutenant Tim Weaver and the interagency Survivable Space Initiative took collective action to harden a home for ignition-resistance. Check out this video to see how they did it and to get ideas about ways you can take action to make your home and neighborhood safer!

 

A visit to the Climate Central website lets you glimpse at the magnitude of the wildfire season this year.  To date at least one US Forest Service wildland firefighter has perished in Modoc County in California and there have been injuries of wildland firefighters reported in California.  According to a Yahoo report, Firefighter Dies in-wind fueled Northern California fire, “A firefighter evaluating a Northern California wildfire was killed by the erratic, wind-stoked blaze while he was surveying an area to decide the best way for crews to handle the flames, a U.S. Forest Service official said Saturday.” 

Alaska has seen possibly one of the most devastating fire seasons to date with at least 300 wildfires burning in the state.  The concern is about the fires melting permafrost and releasing carbon stored for ages. According to a UPI report, “2015 wildfire season could be Alaska’s worst ever”, some 4.75 million acres have already burned. Even more acreage has been consumed by fire in Canada.

According to a Spokesman Review Article, wildfires blazing in Washington State have had a devastating economic effect.  "The cost of fighting wildfires in Washington state has hit nearly $35 million so far this year, as 29 large wildfires have scorched brush, grass and timber."

The Northwest Interagency Coordination Center says those large blazes have burned nearly 130 square miles, or about 81,500 acres.  A large fire burns at least 100 acres in timber or 300 acres in grass or brush.

InciWeb the Incident Information System _Fires_July2_2015
NOAA July 2015 wildfires map

This year's wildfire season is being attributed to unseasonably high temperatures, little precipitation and in many cases, unusual high gusty winds.  NOAA's map of the wildfires in the West is also a chilling reminder of the magnitude of this year's growing wildfire season. 

There are many little things that homeowners can do to act responsibly by making changes that make a difference both to the home and surrounding vegetation.  Changes such as moving firewood piles at least 30 feet  away from the side of the home, cleaning leaves and pine needles from their decks and gutters, and removing unwanted materials such as wood and other debris especially in the five foot zone around the home can not only make your properties safer but make conditions in your community safer for wildland firefighters.  The NFPA's Firewise program has some helpful educational modules and materials developed and taught by wildfire safety experts that can help you make effective choices. 

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