The Pine Barrens Region of New Jersey is prone to wildfire events. A recent fire in early September 2015, spread to more than 100 acres in Woodland Township. Residents in New Jersey Firewise Communities recognize their risk and have worked collaboratively with local agencies to create solutions to lessen these risks, ultimately creating more resilient communities. There are currently 15 active Firewise Communities in New Jersey and many like Washington Township do not have a lot of residents. Despite their small size, they have all accomplished great things by working together.
Washington Township, Burlington County, NJ
Washington Township is in a very rural area of the Pine Barrens region of southern New Jersey. The resident population is very small, only 600 people, plus seasonal recreational visitors. The low population presents a small pool of available/capable people for volunteer emergency responders and managers. The location in the coastal plain, surrounded by pine forest and cranberry bogs, makes it vulnerable to both flood and fire. The 2014 Office of Emergency Management/Firewise Day event was an educational day for natural
hazard mitigation of both wildfires and coastal storms. OEM posted a bulletin called, “Look Up, Down, and Around Your Property. Public information was distributed and also made available at the Town Hall. There was a recognition proclamation for the Boy Scouts and the State Park Service for sign markers along the Pinelands recreational waterway, Wading River. An endorsement resolution was given to NJ State Forestry for the proposed Washington Turnpike fuel break in Wharton State Forest.
Washington Township tell us, “locally, the Firewise “event” is not so much a single day or occasion, but half of the local equation for year-round awareness and emergency preparedness to mitigate the twin natural hazards of wildfire and storms that affect this rural community.”