Skip navigation
All Places > Fire Break > Blog > 2016 > May
2016

NWCG  InciWeb photo gallery 2015_06_27-12.59.47.977-CDT.jpegThis morning, National Public Radio’s “Morning Edition” returned to a 2015 wildfire and shared the positive role fire ecology has played on the landscape’s subsequent health.

 

The segment explains the dependency sequoia trees have on fire to open their cones and disperse seeds for regeneration.  It also shared how the National Park Service used prescribed fire before and after the event to control fire spread in that area and promote the landscape health of these historic sequoia tree stands. 

 

The lightening caused 2015 Rough Fire near Fresno, CA, which impacted the sequoia tress, was not without tragedy.  It burned 151,623 acres for over 3 months before being 100% contained, causing over 2,500 evacuations, numerous respiratory related hospital visits, and the severe burning of a firefighter.

 

In the May edition of NFPA Journal, I focused on the use of prescribed fire and the politics that brings.  When the WUI becomes someone’s backyard, the historic role of fire in that landscape is all but removed.  Wildfire used to help maintain a healthy balance of natural growth, soil fitness, and removal of dead biomass.  Now, humans have to provide those functions ourselves and it raises many challenges, which I explored in the column. 

 

If you’re interested in learning more about prescribed fires, the Wildfire Today blog shared a great time-lapsed video of a prescribed fire in the Black Hills of South Dakota from 2014.  I've often referenced this because watching the video, you get to see what a prescribed fire cleans up, and, more importantly, what it leaves behind. 

 

Photo Credit: National Wildfire Coordinating Group - InciWeb: Sunset Rock Prescribed Burn, Posted on: 06/27/15 12:59 pm, InciWeb the Incident Information System: Sunset Rock Large Photograph


We want to hear from you! It's easy to comment on posts: just look for the login link above to login or register for your free account on Xchange. Xchange is more than a blog; it's an online community that connects you with peers worldwide and directly with NFPA staff. Get involved today!

Communities that have embraced the Firewise Program as part of their day to day lifestyle notice many changes that improve their safety over time.  Many communities who work together with Firewise as their rallying point go on to implement other types of projects that improve upon the resilience of the community.  This Firewise community engagement is also beginning to be recognized by the insurance industry. Learn ways your community can work together and collaboratively with partners by reading the success stories of today’s featured communities.

 

Wildcat Community Inc. at Jasper, Georgia

Wildcat Community did not have a fire station when they started working with Firewise. They used Firewise to educate their residents about wildland fire and wildland urban interface challenges. With the people working together, they built a fire station with money that came ½ from the community, and ½ from Pickets County. Dawson County provided the equipment and training. Having a fully operational Volunteer Fire Station got the community’s ISO rating lowered. The amount the residents are saving on homeowners insurance due to the lower ISO rating has more than repaid the investment that the community made.

 

Wildcat Community tells us, “What Firewise has done is given the community a rallying point. We were able to pull 7 communities together with a common purpose. People working together got the fire station erected. We still have a lot of work to do. Firewise is the rallying point. We can’t say somebody is going to come and save us. We have to create defensible space and save ourselves.”

 

Point Harbor Beach in Point Harbor, North Carolina

Point Harbor Beach had to postpone their Firewise Day event by one day because of a hurricane. But, even with the delay, they had a turnout of close to Point Harbor Beach.jpg100 residents, guests, and Emergency Services personnel. After a free hotdog lunch was served to all the attendees, they hooked up the dry hydrant and tested it. It successfully spouted a huge arc of water into Currituck Sound. Neighborhood kids played under the cooling spray of the water. The community presented a $150 check to the Lower Currituck Volunteer Fire Department as a thank you for their loyal support and service to the community. Firewise Day serves not only to honor Point Harbor Beach being a Firewise Community for 6 years, but also promotes fellowship and spreads the message of fire safety among the community. Later in the summer, the Task Force completed a 3-phase project of installing reflective address numbers in front of all approximately 75 residences in this small, rural community to raise Firewise awareness.

 

  Point Harbor Beach says, “Long-held memories of a 1993 fire that burned a neighbor’s sound-front residence to the grounds kindled the drive for a dry hydrant in the small, rural community of Point. Harbor Beach. In 2008, a Firewise Task Force spearheaded by North Carolina Forest Ranger Aaron Gay and a loyal band of volunteers brought that dream to reality. That accomplishment and our goal of keeping Firewise awareness before the eyes of the community are celebrated at our Firewise Day Free Hotdog Lunch every 4th of July holiday.”

 

                                                                                             The photo is submitted to us by the Point Harbor Beach Firewise Community.

Some Firewise Communities,  like Lake Yonah, Georgia the Firewise Day is more than just a day!  The communities host community-wide work projects over periods of Firewise Logo New One only use this!.jpgweeks or months.  This process enables residents of the community to participate when it is convenient for them and increases the participation rate.  Other communities like Jeckyll Island, Georgia host educational events throughout the year to reach more residents.  The success stories from these two outstanding Firewise Communities shared below can help you learn how you can have fun creating a successful Firewise Community.

 

Lake Yonah at Toccoa, Georgia

Firewise Day is a two-week event at Lake Yonah. It takes place in the fall each year. In 2014, The Homeowners Association set out a community dumpster at the boat house. The residents helped each other clean the yards and place debris in the dumpster. The Association mailed Firewise and fire prevention literature to all the homeowners when they sent out a notice for the community cleanup project. Lake Yonah is a small community of 35 families, but they have a 50% participation rate. They were awarded a wildfire mitigation grant from Georgia Forestry Commission to install a fire hydrant in the community.

 

Lake Yonah says, “Firewise works really well for us. We are summer residents and we have a two-week Firewise program. We have bad roads, but with Firewise we were able to map the area and the homes, and make it available to safety personnel. We appreciate the program!”

 

Jeckyll Island, Georgia

Jeckyll Island is a resort area and holds Firewise talks several times a year to reach different people. In 2014, talks were held in February, March, June, July, August, and September.  Firewise Day was coordinated with a 3-day festival, and educational presentations for Firewise were presented. The talks reviewed mitigation strategies and what to do in the event of a wildfire. One presentation was on fire safety during while using fireworks.

 

Jeckyll Island tells us, “The Fire Chief works well with us, and we have a lot of festivals. The residents are all for Firewise. It makes Firewise interesting and fun! Firewise should be fun!”

On a trip to Boise, Idaho this week, U.S. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell announced $10 million in funding to help increase the resiliency of landscapes across the country to better mitigate the impacts of climate change and wildland fires, and called on Congress to fix the wildfire suppression fund, according to an article, "Secretary Jewell announces $10 million for projects to increase wildfire resilience" by Bill Gabbert in Wildfire Today, and a press release distributed by the Department of the Interior.

 

Sec. Jewell.JPGThe Wildland Fire Resilient Landscapes Program, according to Jewell is a new approach to help realize fire resiliency and restore vulnerable rangelands and forests across the country through multi-year investments in chosen landscapes. The Program was launched last year and incorporates goals of Secretarial Order 3336, Rangeland Fire Prevention, Management, and Restoration and the National Cohesive Wildland Fire Management Strategy that points to managing vegetation and fuels, and protecting homes, communities and other values at risk among other challenges.The goals were put into place to help ensure that the projects emphasize collaboration at the highest level with partners, plan on a landscape-scale across multiple jurisdictions, lessen the risk from catastrophic wildfire and enhance the protection of critical natural resources and watersheds.

 

The current funding helps support the second year of work on these projects. Get a full list of the projects and their descriptions on the Program's webpage and read Gabbert's full article to learn more.

 

Last week, Secretary Jewell  held a summit in Washington, D.C. with federal agencies, fire departments and other key stakeholders, including NFPA, at the White House regarding the increasing danger to communities in the WUI. Read our latest post about the meeting.

 

Photo: Secretary Jewell at the announcement in Boise, Idaho, holding a Firewise program brochure, "How to Have a Firewise Home."

FireBreak readers survey image May16.pngTell us why you read the monthly Fire Break newsletter.  Do you share its content with friends, family or your peers? Take our short online survey to help us improve our newsletter

 

It should only take you 5 minutes and by completing all the questions, you’ll be entered into a sweepstakes drawing for a $25 gift certificate to a national home improvement/garden center retailer.  To enter, please make sure you complete question 8 of the survey.  The full “sweepstakes” rules can be read here.

 

The sweepstakes period ends this Friday and we'll announce the lucky winner in the June newsletter edition

 

We look forward to learning from your responses and thanks again for your time.

NWCG.JPGJust out late last week, the National Wildfire Coordinating Group (NWCG) announced its recipients for the 2015 Wildfire Emergency Medical Service Awards. This annual awards program, sponsored by the National Wildfire Coordinating Group's Incident Emergency Medical Subcommittee (EMS), recognizes and honors individuals and/or organizations who have demonstrated outstanding work, actions or programs in emergency medical service for our country's wildland firefighters.

 

The winners were selected from five Emergency Medical Service (EMS) Award categories:

 

* Outstanding Wildfire EMS Individual of the Year

* Outstanding Wildfire EMS Squad/Crew/Team of the Year

* Outstanding Wildfire EMS Distinguished Service of the Year

* Excellence in Wildfire Emergency Medical Service/Rescue

* Lifetime Achievement in Wildfire Emergency Medical Service

 

Learn more about the award and find out who the 2015 Wildfire Emergency Medical Service Award winners are!

Our nation’s history is awash in stories about devastating wildfires including the Peshtigo Fire in Wisconsin in 1871 that claimed an estimate of 1,200 to 2,400 lives lost; the Great Burn in 1910 that destroyed about three million acres in the Northwest; and more recently, the firestorms in Southern California in 2003 and 2007; the 2011 Bastrop Complex in Texas; Waldo Canyon, Colorado in 2012; Yarnell, Arizona, in 2013 where 19 wildland firefighters perished, and so many more.   Are we as a nation doomed to suffer devastating losses every time there is a large wildfire event, or can we use research about wildfires and lessons learned from the past to make changes to our homes and communities to make them more resilient?

 

Last week, NFPA conducted a seminar in Spokane, Washington to help fire service personnel obtain the skills and science-based knowledge to help teach residents in Gary Teaching 2.jpgtheir respective communities how to make changes to their homes and landscape to reduce risk and loss. The Assessing Wildfire Hazards in the Home Ignition Zone seminar, also known as NFPA’s HIZ seminar, was supported through a FEMA/DHS Fire Prevention and Safety Grant. While we were setting up for the class there, we noticed a historical marker in the park across the street. It memorialized the Great Fire of 1899 in Spokane that devastated three-quarters of the business district of the community.  This is an area rich in wildfire history and fire loss. 

 

What impressed both the instructor, Gary Marshall, and myself was that the “students” from this class Gary in Class.jpgwere so eager to learn all that they could to help their communities.  Seminar participants represented a variety of fire departments from volunteer, paid, state, rural large city and tribal.  Many told us they had or were going to order Firewise materials to help them teach residents what steps they could take to help themselves.  We all agreed that these fire departments were not going to be able to have a fire truck at every home during a large event.

 

They were eager to share their new skills from the HIZ seminar and work collaboratively the Firewise way with members of their communities to help them prioritize and complete projects.  They told us that the science-based knowledge they gained in class would help them be able to guide their neighbors to make changes themselves that will make a difference. We all agreed knowledge applied through behavior change is what will make a difference.  One fire safety specialist shared, “In our community presentations, we will apply what we learned in class to promote Fire Adapted Communities and the Firewise program to include more HIZ information and push for behavior change.”

With wildfire season upon us, U.S. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell, led a discussion with federal agencies, fire departments and other key stakeholders at the White House on May 18 regarding the increasing danger to communities in the wildland/urban interface (WUI). NFPA's Vice President for Outreach & Advocacy Lorraine Carli was there and joined the discussion.

 

Secretary Jewell Wildfire Roundtable[10]_SM_CC.jpgDuring the meeting, Secretary Jewell highlighted the continued need for collaboration to enhance community resilience against wildfire risks and strengthen federal firefighter safety and preparedness, according to a press release from the Department of the Interior that was posted on Bend, Oregon's KTVZ News website. To that end, Secretary Jewell pointed to the Firewise Communities Program as playing an important role in helping residents take the steps needed to reduce their risk of injury and damage to their homes from wildfire.

 

"It's imperative that home and business owners and communities, especially those in wildland-urban interface areas, take this seriously and accept personal responsibility for simple actions that will reduce wildfire exposure, protect property and save lives. Homeowners can visit Firewise.org and Ready, Set, Go for actions they can take to reduce their risk," said Secretary Jewell.

 

Carli spoke about the need to increase the number of Firewise communities given that there are more than 70,000 communities in the wildland/urban interface. She also talked about the role codes can play in the design, construction and landscape criteria to make homes safer from wildfire. "With the growing threat and prolonged wildfire season, it is critical that individuals and communities play a more active part in building and maintaining properties that can withstand wildfires," said Carli.

 

Headwaters Economics reports that since 1990, 60 percent of new homes across the country have been built in the WUI, where houses, structures and people reside adjacent to or within wildlands and are therefore at risk of structure loss, injury and death from wildfire.

 

The release goes on to say that according to the 2014 U.S. National Climate Assessment, the western U.S. will continue to see a greater number of large wildfires and fires that are longer in duration; a result of higher temperatures and an early spring snowmelt.White House Roundtable Wildfire_SM_CC.jpg

 

In the meeting Secretary Jewell pointed to two actions that were announced yesterday to increase WUI resilience and mitigation measures. The first is a Presidential Executive Order titled, Wildland-Urban Interface Federal Risk Mitigation, which will "mitigate wildfire risk to federal buildings located in the WUI, reduce risks to people, and help minimize property loss to wildfire. Second, federal, state, local, tribal and non-government leaders committed today to a multi-scale, collaborative approach to address the challenges posed by wildfire in the WUI; advancing community resilience in the WUI; managing adjacent landscapes wisely; and continuing to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of wildland fire response."

 

Secretary Jewell will visit the National Interagency Fire Center (NIFC) in Boise, Idaho next week.

 

Read the full article and press release for more on Secretary Jewell's roundtable discussion and to learn about the federal government's plan to address the wildfire issue. Additional information about the Firewise program can be found at www.firewise.org.

Arizona State Law Journal.JPGLast May, leading government forestry officials, university researchers, conservationists and key stakeholders met to discuss and debate measures that may be required to address devastating wildfires in Arizona and the West. The seminar speakers also talked about new policies (such as forest thinning) that may help protect forests and the communities that are in or near them from the most serious effects of wildfire.

 

The presentations at the seminar were later turned into articles written by the presenters and then published in a special Symposium issue of the Arizona State Law Journal. NFPA was honored to be part of the discussion and Symposium. The article, "Firewise: The Value of Voluntary Action and Standard Approaches to Reducing Wildfire Risk," was written by Faith Berry, Lucian Deaton and Michele Steinberg from NFPA's Wildland Fire Operations Division.

 

Get a recap of the meeting including those who attended and the topics, including Former Arizona Senator Jon Kyl, Stephen J. Pyne, Regents' Professor and Distinguished Sustainability Scholar, School of Life Sciences, Arizona State University, and many other renowned guests.

 

Read NFPA's full article on Arizona State University's Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law website.

 

You can also check out all of the other articles that cover a broad range of wildfire topics and interests.

We recently heard about a high school senior in Kentucky, Kyra Seevers, and her work involving wildland fires. Kyra is a student in the Math, Science and Technology Center Magnet Program at Paul Laurence Dunbar High School where one of the goals of the program is to conduct 360 hours of research at the University of Kentucky.

 

Kyra Seevers.JPGKyra joined the Institute of Research for Technology Development where Dr. Nelson Akafuah, her mentor, introduced her to wildland fire research. She realized she was very interested in the heat transfers found in wildland fires and was especially fascinated by how little is known about small-scale processes in the wildfire environment. Over the course of about two years, Kyra developed the project to encompass the study of heat transfer mechanisms and fluid flow dynamics. She then applied what she learned to create design modifications to the emergency firefigher shelter to improve their efficacy.

 

Kyra's project is still a work in progress and last week she presented her research at INTEL ISEF, the International Science and Engineering Fair for students, in Phoenix, Arizona. Kyra told us her project, titled, "Understanding Heat Transfer Mechanisms in Forest Fire Spread:  Convection, Radiation, Fluid Dynamics, and Their Application for Firefighter Protection in a High Temperature Fine Fuel Particle Environment", was given the American Meteorological Society 2nd Place Award and it also placed second in the Category of Engineering Mechanics. An amazing accomplishment, indeed! Kyra will continue her research of the emergency firefighter shelter and she hopes to file for a patent and create full scale models of the modifications.

 

Kyra heads to the University of Kentucky in the fall and will major in Computer Science.

 

Congratulations to Kyra on her amazing accomplishment and her commitment to helping better protect firefighters on the job.! As NFPA continues its work with youth around wildfire issues, we are encouraged and love hearing stories about students who are making a difference in the wildfire space. Check out the INTEL ISEF site for highlights of the conference and a complete list of the winners and their projects.

 

NFPA wishes Kyra the best of luck in the future; we can't wait to hear about the next phase of her project!

Two Florida Firewise Communities engaged their local Fire Service to create a Firewise Day to remember. Wedgefield focused on creating a fun-filled family day to engage residents of all age groups.  They listed five partner agencies that helped collaborate with them to create a successful day.  Cypress Dunes used the day to focus on Firewise landscaping and hands-on experience using a hose to put out small “garden” fires.  Read their stories and learn what steps you can take to make your community more resilient in the event of a wildfire.

 

Wedgefield at Orange County, Florida

On their Firewise Day, Wedgefield held an open house at the local fire station and held a large public meeting. The community event featured displays by local agency partners, vendors, food and cake sales, and activities for children. Speakers on landscaping, wildfire, and wildfire mitigation were provided by Florida Forest Service, Orange County Extension Service, University of Florida, and the Orange County Fire and Rescue Department. Orange County Fire and Rescue Department Station 86 in Wedgefield held an open house for adults and children. Firefighters gave tours of the station and explained the equipment and vehicles they use. Free photos of the children were taken with Santa. Firewise information was passed out to the adults.

 

Wedgefield tells us, “We have gone to other communities encouraging them to become part of the Firewise program. We love Firewise!”

 

Cypress Dunes at Walton County, Florida

 

Cypress Dunes held a public meeting on Firewise Day. The local mitigation specialist spoke to the group about the importance of fire-friendly landscaping, and how toWalton County Florida.png use a water hose to put out a small fire. The residents agreed to keep hoses on the right side of their homes, accessible to anyone in the event of a fire.

 

Cypress Dunes tells us, “Firewise Day has become an education day that is very helpful to us. This year we learned how to make better plant choices for landscaping around our homes.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Map of Walton County Florida from Wikipedia

Smokejumper22.jpg

This week, the highly specialized firefighters known as "smokejumpers" kicked off their weeks-long annual training, as wildfire season gets underway.

 

Smokejumpers are a select group of firefighters who parachute into otherwise inaccessible areas to fight wildfires. Often, they  provide the initial suppression efforts for fires that threaten to grow out of control. Their rigorous training routines have been

developed over the course of 70 years- the program was founded in 1939. The United States Forest Service (USFS) currently employs over 270 smokejumpers at bases in Idaho, California, Montana,  Washington, and Oregon, while the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) employs around 150 in Idaho and Alaska. However, they can travel anywhere in the country to fight fires, often spending months away from home during wildfire season.

 

When not fighting fires, smokejumpers can be assigned to various projects that allow them to apply their unique skill set. According to USFS, this can include "brush piling,

prescribed burning and other fuels management projects, construction and maintenance of facilities, or trail maintenance." Last month, a group of smokejumpers used their expertise in tree-climbing to assist the US Department of Agriculture in combating an invasive beetle that is destroying trees in an Ohio township.

 

Read more about smokejumpers and see photos of their training in a recent article from Mashable.

 

photo courtesy of Mashable.

20160516__DP_NGPS_TypeSetExport20160517_A1_A1-cd16landlossp-p1.jpgAn article in today’s Denver Post highlights the “21 century” development boom in Colorado that has converted approximately 525 square miles of once wildland unto urban expansion, commerce, and energy production. 

 

The article discusses a forthcoming national land use study that explores this development. 

 

It also discusses the issue of increasing landscape fragmentation, wild-life movement corridors and range, and human impacts on its resiliency. 

 

Check out the article.

 

Photo Credit: Denver Post File, viewed 17 May 16, Hundreds of miles of Colorado wilderness lost to 21st-century development boom - The Denver Post.

Over the weekend, NFPA's Canadian Regional Director, Shayne Mintz, shared an update on the state of Alberta wildfire and ongoing recovery efforts in Fort McMurray. 

 

Shayne explained that the fire is still out of control but is travelling in an easterly direction towards the Saskatchewan border. This is an uninhabited area but a change in weather/winds could change the situation. The weather has slowed the progress of the fire and was reported as being 240,000 hectares (~595,000 acres) over the weekend.  Weather conditions have cooled but temps in Fort McMurray are forecast to be in the mid to high 70’s (F) until late this week and then dropping again to 50 – 60’s (F) through the weekend.  Rain is forecast Thursday and Friday.

 

Several Oil camps suspended operations during fire threats and are trying to get back up and running.  Reports highlight that the fire has made a 1,000,000 barrels per-day impact on production. Efforts are hampered by the lack of worker availability, as many live in the Fort McMurray area and evacuees from those areas aren’t being let back in until damage assessments have been completed and the communities deemed safe.

 

Approximately 90,000 people were evacuated from Fort McMurray and re-entry plans are being developed. 

 

Over the weekend, the Alberta Premier and Canadian Prime Minister Trudeau toured the area announcing that the Canadian government will support the relief and recovery efforts. Initial tours of the area by officials and the media have shown that approximately 90% of the city has been saved from fire. Damage assessments are being conducted as to the condition of critical infrastructure (hospital, schools, water treatment plant etc.) and the focus is on getting those people who have homes to return to, back to their homes as soon as possible.  Getting people back to work is a high priority.  It’s been reported the hospital sustained some damage to the HVAC systems and can’t be re-opened until repairs are completed.  A temporary field hospital has been set up in the meantime.  There is still no concrete estimate on damages although it is feared this fire surpasses the losses (1,600 homes) in Slave Lake and Kelowna BC fires (433 and 293 respectively).

 

If you want to help those effected, the Red Cross has announced there has been $85,000 raised in donations and evacuees are being issued pre-loaded debit cards to deal with short term incidentals.  Monetary donations are still being requested to be sent to the Canadian Red Cross at www.redcross.ca and the Canadian government has reaffirmed it’s to commitment to matching all contributions dollar for dollar.

May FB.JPGThe 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:

  • The spring wildfire outlook for the U.S.
  • A recap of this year's Wildfire Community Preparedness Day
  • A link to the Wildfire Watch column in Journal that explores the question: To (prescribe) burn or not to burn
  • Highlights of a couple of the wildfire track education sessions at upcoming NFPA Conference & Expo

...and much more! We want to continue to share all of this great information with you, so don't miss an issue and subscribe today. It's free! Just add your email address to our newsletter list.

Sparky and Smokey.jpgTwo of the most famous fire animals on the face of the Earth, Sparky the Fire Dog and Smokey Bear, collaborated on NFPA’s Wildfire Community Preparedness Day.  Smokey and Sparky even took a look at the wildfire risk of a park building at the Blue Hills Reservation next door to the Quincy office address.  Smokey who has been around since 1944, shared a birthday cake with Sparky to celebrate Sparky’s 65th birthday!

 

The staff from the NFPA office in Quincy completed a clean-up day on May 6th!  We all started on simple tasks to make the park building and our office safer in the event of a wildfire. We all worked on things that do not cost a lot of money like trimming bushes, raking leaves and cleaning up “human treasures” i.e. trash.  Smokey’s friendsIMG_0802 (003).JPG from the Massachusetts Department of Parks and Recreation, including the Chief Fire Warden Dave Celino, shared their expertise with the Quincy office.   We all enjoyed each other’s company as we cleaned up the campus and left with the satisfaction of knowing that we helped make the campus landscape safer for those of us who work here.

Article.jpgMark your calendar for this free webinar hosted by the North Atlantic Fire Science Exchange from 12:00-1:00 pm Eastern Standard Time.   Have you ever questioned how fuel reduction projects and prescribed fire could affect wildlife where you live?  Dave King and Joan Milam, UMass research wildlife biologists will be speaking about the impacts of these projects and the resulting habitat restoration for bees, songbirds, whippoorwills, hognose snakes, butterflies and moths at Montague Plains in Massachusetts. The webinar is free to all participants.

 

The link that they provided to the project showed how a combination of treatments are used: thinning, burning andnew_davco.jpg mowing on the land in this unique ecosystem in Massachusetts. The write up speaks about how small units were managed throughout the year to lessen the impact to wildlife.  While reviewing the materials about this seminar, I was thinking about a new term that I had heard at the New Mexico Summit called , “buy one get one free”, which refers to how managing landscapes appropriately for fire can have multiple benefits.

 

The pictures were from the paper about managing fuels in the Northern Pine Barren.  The photo of the Davco mower to the right was taken by Brian Kurtz and the photo above of the prescribed fire of material that had been mowed by the Davco mower was taken by Michael Batcher.

According to a recent "Sunday Spotlight" article in The Santa Fe New Mexican, Santa Fe has yet to see a wildfire penetrate its city limits, but many forest experts in New Mexico think it's only a matter of time. From January through March of this year, New Mexico has seen 132 fires, more than twice the number that ignited in the same period last year. One of the bigger contributing factors, say fire officials, is the grassland fuel that has built up due to a wet year with lush vegetation and an early fire season.

 

Nystrom Santa Fe.JPG

Enter Krys Nystrom, a former volunteer firefighter and member of The Santa Fe County Fire Department's Wildland Division, who is working on ways to address this challenge by helping homeowners better prepare for wildfire. As a participant in a workshop last December for the Collaborative Forest Restoration Program, Nystrom brainstormed with others about how to make the best use of limited government resources to complete restoration projects. It was then she also realized there was a lack of attention and resources dedicated to protecting homes on private lands. At the crux of it all, Nystrom never realized just how many communities were at high risk for wildfire.

 

So she founded the Wildfire Network, which aims to educate homeowners on how to protect their private lands and their homes from the risk of fires, and help keep firefighters safer on the job. In the course of her volunteer work, Nystrom says she has seen too many homes needlessly burn down in a wildfire, and that too many firefighters risk their lives to save structures. But there are things residents can do to help. Trimming trees and clearing brush is just the start.

 

In June at NFPA's Conference & Expo, Nystrom will share her experience, her knowledge and her passion for helping communities in Santa Fe address their wildfire risk. She will also talk about her plans to get more children and young adults involved in community projects like working with tools and cutting down brush in what she sees as a critical gap in private land management.

 

Read the full article, "Former firefighter launches nonprofit to help protect homes," in The Santa Fe New Mexican, and if you plan to attend the Conference, check out Nystrom's session, which promises to be informative and inspiring. Her session, titled "A Firewise Curriculum to Spark Learning" will be held on Wednesday, June 15 at 8:00 AM.

 

Photo: Krys Nystrom. Courtesy of Luis Sanchez Saturno/The New Mexican

Part of being a Firewise Community is hosting a Firewise Day.  Listening to the stories of many Firewise Communities, we have seen the intrinsic value of this “day” which often times will span into a week or more. The communities host educational workshops, promote success stories, collaborate with agency partners on project development and prioritization and just enjoy special time together. The value of community resiliency development and peer to peer mentoring over time through hosting these “days” helps all residents in these neighborhoods not only acknowledge their risk but adopt a change of lifestyle to a Firewise one. Enjoy the stories of two Firewise community days celebrated in Florida and Georgia and learn how they were helped by participating.

 

Lake Forest Estates -- Ramsey Mountain, in Hiawassee, GA

On Firewise Day, Lake Forest Estates – Ramsey Mountain held an exercise with emergency personnel and vehicles from the local fire department, Georgia Forestry Commission, and the Georgia State Sheriff’s Office. The group assisted residents with cleanup and chipping in Lake Forest Estates. The Firewise group also helps to mentor new communities in the area. They have formed a Firewise Coalition board representing 5 subdivisions. The Coalition meets monthly. Each community writes their own grant, works with the State Forester to inspect houses, and makes recommendations to the homeowners for wildfire mitigation and defensible space.

 

Lake Forest Estates says, “We love Firewise! Firewise has been very helpful. It has helped us to connect as a community and we have learned a lot.”

 

Fiddler’s Green in Lake County, FL

Lake County Florida.png

Because of the sparse number of homeowners in residence later in the year, Fiddler’s Green held their Firewise Day in January. A public meeting was held and the group discussed their goals and objectives for the year. The primary goal is to comply with Firewise’s advice to establish an emergency egress for the community while also maintaining community defensible space. The group feels that they will need cooperation from the county and the conservancy to accomplish their goals.

 

Fiddler’s Green says, “We have benefitted from our involvement with Firewise. It has helped with the egress. Firewise support has helped us feel safer on our planet.” 

 

 

 

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Map from Wikipedia

Fire in NJ 2007.JPG

Although wildfires out west have dominated the news, the single most destructive fire in U.S. history could occur in the Northeast, according to an article in the April issue of Rolling Stone. To be more specific, the Pinelands, a 1.1 million-acre plot of land in southern New Jersey that covers seven counties and is home to around 500,000 people, is the area that causes the most concern for firefighters. The area has already seen small fires but thankfully have not caused significant widespread damage. Stephen Pyne, a fire ecology professor at Arizona State University, agrees. "Sooner or later, southern New Jersey will know the fire equivalent of Hurricane Sandy," he says, "The cost could be in the billions. The loss of life could be unthinkable."

 

Read this fascinating article, Will America's worst wildfire disaster happen in New Jersey?, by Kyle Dickman and get an east coast perspective on wildfire that you may not have considered or have known about.

Beaver Valley Estates, a Firewise Community since 2008, builds upon past success.  This community was originally established as part of the Homestead Act in the late 1800’s. In the 1950’s it was developed into a resort with rentable log cabins, a water company, a railroad, complete with a train station and several train stops – and an exact replica of a western town, including a general store, shops, saloon, and jail.  It was here in the community originally called “Mountain City”, where Lew King Beaver Estates.pngbroadcast his nationwide radio show in the 1960’s.  In 1966, the community became a homeowner’s association called The Beaver Valley Improvement Association that has both full time and part time residents.

 

The community has recognized their risk to wildfire and the risk to one of Arizona’s few natural water sources- the spring fed East Verde River- that runs directly through their community.  They have worked to lessen their risk by collaborating with their local fire district and becoming a recognized Firewise Community.  The community shared how in the first year of being a Firewise Community they achieved success. In 2009..., "an unattended campfire in a nearby campground created a wildfire. The fire burned nearly 800 acres and came within 250 feet of entering the community. Our evacuation procedures were implemented, and the planning, preparation, and benefits of having a fire department and being a Firewise community quickly paid off.  The volunteer fire department was the first on the scene and prevented the flames from entering our property.  With the Fire District’s skills, training, and abilities – along

Beaver Valley 2.pngwith the homeowners' Firewise efforts which were just implemented the year before – the fire’s flames never crossed over.”

The community now has implemented additional opportunities to enhance homeowner education, engage residents in work projects, apply for grants to assist with project work, enhancing collaborative efforts, and develop effective communication strategies to keep engagement with current residents and reach out to new neighbors and other communities. Every Firewise community has a story about success that they can share. Taking simple steps year after year helps a community build upon their Firewise successes and become more resilient in the event of a wildfire.

AFA Cadets.PNGThroughout the U.S., more than 200 projects were completed on Saturday, May 7 during national Wildfire Community Preparedness Day. A desire to reduce wildfire’s impacts was embraced by thousands of individuals as they increased preparedness, reduced risk and raised awareness where they live and play. Activities had residents, fire and forestry professionals and even cadets from the U.S. Air Force Academy working to prepare individual homes, neighborhoods and community assets from future wildfire risks and recent post-fire impacts. This year's most unique effort included a project at America’s only mountain zoo, where more than 700 animals reside in a wildland/urban interface.

 

Take a few minutes to view photos, video and details on these amazing accomplishments and you’ll be impressed and inspired by the magnitude of what can happen in a single day. Additional pictures will be added as they’re received and the photo album will soon be bulging with great success stories. Give it a look and start planning what you’ll accomplish during next year’s annual event on Saturday, May 6, 2017.

May 8th is National Animal Preparedness Day.  This  day highlights the importance of having a disaster plan in place for your pets.   Pets are so important to us and enrich our lives in so many ways.  Pets have even been enlisted in the fire service to help search for victims in emergencies and sniff out accelerants that may have started fires as arson dogs, police dogs, and service dogs.  They do so much for us and provide us with unconditional love.  Part of loving our pets is providing for their health and safety.  NFPA’s wildfire safety page for youth, TakeAction, has a checklist that can help you prepare a pet evacuation plan.  Having a tub or backpack ready for your pet in the event of an emergency makes it easy for you to provide for their needs in the event of an evacuation with little notice.

Some items to include:

  1. Adoption records
  2. Vaccination records
  3. Pet insurance policies
  4. Dietary restrictions
  5. Copies of Municipal or County license tags and paperwork
  6. Copies of microchip paperwork
  7. Copies of medication paperwork and contact information for your pet’s vet.
  8. Leash and harness
  9. List of pet-friendly hotels
  10. Food and for seven days if canned a can opener and spoon
  11. Feeding and watering bowls and more!

For a more detailed list download our free pet preparedness checklist.  There is also a checklist available online for horses.

 

If there is a wildfire in your area, it is a good idea to locate your pets if they are outdoors and bring them inside to make easier to prepare them for an evacuation as well as save time when you have to leave.  Preparing yourself and your pets in the event of a wildfire will make it safer for them. As we celebrate our pets let us also provide for their safety and ours.  To learn more about how you can prepare your home, family and pets for a wildfire event visit the Firewise website.

We heard from Three Rivers in Culver, Oregon a recognized Firewise Community since 2012, about steps that they have taken to give their homes and communities a fighting chance in the event of a wildfire.  They refer to themselves as, “Proudly Firewise”.

 

This community located in the heart of Oregon recognized their risk (they described two fires in close proximity to their community), and have worked together toPenny's crew.jpg

lessen that risk of wildfire by working collaboratively with agency partners including the Lake Chinook Fire and Rescue on some of their mitigation projects.

 

I was really impressed with a program enacted by this community with support from their fire department to engage youth in learning and being included as part of the solution to their wildfire risk reduction. The project was partially grant funded with money obtained and managed by the local fire department with the remainder of the costs being provided by the community.  It taught 16-24-year-olds job skills training, education, and leadership by providing them with a hands-on work opportunity to assist with two fuels reduction projects at the beach and in the Little Canyon area.  Debris piles created by this work project were later burned by the local fire department.  This project was such a success for the community as a whole, that an article was published about it by the Oregon Fire Marshal’s Office in the 2016 Gated Wye Newsletter.  We have heard stories about a variety of success stories from across the nation, each community developing and implementing their own path towards resilience by following simple Firewise principles.  What is your story?                                                                                     Photo of youth in Three Rivers Firewise Community working on a project with a little help from their pets.

PrepDayCanadaFlag1.jpg

NFPA staff at our Quincy, Massachusetts, headquarters spent part of this afternoon cleaning our beautiful wooded campus of flammable trash, a day early for Wildfire Community Preparedness Day to give employees a chance to volunteer their time. All over the U.S. and Canada tomorrow, May 7, communities will come together to undertake projects that make a difference in their safety from wildfire. Our hearts have been heavy with the news of the continuing destruction and displacement in Fort McMurray and surrounding areas in Alberta, Canada. We wanted to take a moment to acknowledge the terrible toll this is taking on our northern neighbors and to send them our thoughts, prayers and good wishes for courage and strength in coping with and recovering from this wildfire disaster.

We're grateful to Shayne Mintz, NFPA Canadian Regional Director, for his updates on the unfolding scenario of wildfire disaster in Alberta, Canada. This morning, Friday, May 6, Shayne reported that the fire is not yet under control due to weather conditions that have not changed. The fire area is now greater in size than the city of Calgary. Due to dwindling supplies, CBC reports that approximately 25,000 evacuees who headed north for refuge in the oil sands camps as a result of the fires in Fort McMurray are being moved and relocated south to Edmonton, Red Deer and Calgary.

 

Shayne added, "Today, RCMP (Royal Canadian Mounted Police) has already begun leading a convoy down Highway 63 complete with fuel tankers, air support to make sure the convoy is aware of any hazards or risk that may arise, and other resources such as service vehicles to ensure the convoy stays intact and complete.  The convoy will be travelling through Fort McMurray to get to the south, so the evacuees from Fort McMurray will be seeing for the first time the devastation that has hit their community."

 

Insurance companies have begun deploying staff to begin the recovery and claims process. They forecast insured losses at $9 billion. This is now being predicted to be the largest natural disaster in Canadian history, surpassing the combined losses from the Central Alberta floods of 2013, the 2011 Slave Lake wildfire, and the 1998 Eastern Ontario Ice Storm.

 

Many readers may be wondering what they can do to help. Shayne said that donations to the Canadian Red Cross to help in recovery are greatly appreciated. He indicated that the Canadian government is matching such donations dollar for dollar.

 

Report from Thursday, May 5 - by Lucian Deaton, NFPA Wildland Fire Operations Division

This morning, we spoke with NFPA’s Canadian Regional Director, Shayne Mintz, based in Ontario, Canada to gain some understanding of the wildfire and its impact.  He shared that, “With the near drought-like conditions in British Columbia and Alberta [Canada], over the past two years and the unusually high spring temperatures – coupled with low humidity, this is definitely unusual and it sets the stage for a potentially bad fire season.”  He added that, “temperatures in  Alberta are some of the warmest in Canada right now because of weather patterns that have highs in the 80s(f).

 

alta-wildfire-evacuation.jpg

Shayne also reflected on the fire, explaining that, “it took a lot of people by surprise that it got into Fort McMurray, becoming an urban conflagration.”

 

To better understand this area of Canada, Shayne relayed that it is in the northern arboreal forests and is a big economic area for timber, oil, and gas extraction.  Fort McMurry is the home of Canada’s large oil sands production facilities and was not a big community until the oil boom of the past decade.

 

I asked Shayne about the current evacuations and he shared that, “the community is served by one highway in and out with one bridge on Highway 63 into Fort McMurray.  Since a southern evacuation has presented challenges, many residents are fleeing north to camp areas and mining camps.  These commercial mining camps are airlifting or otherwise relocating staff to facilitate evacuees.”  He added that local press has already marked this as the largest evacuation in Alberta history and that the wildfire has eclipsed the home loss of the 2011 Slave Lake, Alberta, wildfire.

 

Shayne’s shared that his message to both Canadian and NFPA audiences elsewhere, “is that communities can help defend against wildfires by applying the principles of FireSmart, and for more information, visit www.firesmartcanada.ca to learn more on how to help reduce the wildfire risk they may face in their communities”

 

Photo Credit: Terry Reith/CBC (5 May 2016, Wildfires: The science of how they spread and how they're stopped - Technology & Science - CBC News )

This morning, we spoke with NFPA’s Canadian Regional Director, Shayne Mintz, based in Ontario, Canada to gain some understanding of the wildfire and its impact.  He shared that, “With the near drought-like conditions in British Columbia and Alberta [Canada], over the past two years and the unusually high spring temperatures – coupled with low humidity, this is definitely unusual and it sets the stage for a potentially bad fire season.”  He added that, “temperatures in  Alberta are some of the warmest in Canada right now because of weather patterns that have highs in the 80s(f).

 

alta-wildfire-evacuation.jpgShayne also reflected on the fire, explaining that, “it took a lot of people by surprise that it got into Fort McMurray, becoming an urban conflagration.”

 

To better understand this area of Canada, Shayne relayed that it is in the northern arboreal forests and is a big economic area for timber, oil, and gas extraction.  Fort McMurry is the home of Canada’s large oil sands production facilities and was not a big community until the oil boom of the past decade.

 

I asked Shayne about the current evacuations and he shared that, “the community is served by one highway in and out with one bridge on Highway 63 into Fort McMurray.  Since a southern evacuation has presented challenges, many residents are fleeing north to camp areas and mining camps.  These commercial mining camps are airlifting or otherwise relocating staff to facilitate evacuees.”  He added that local press has already marked this as the largest evacuation in Alberta history and that the wildfire has eclipsed the home loss of the 2011 Slave Lake, Alberta, wildfire.

 

Shayne’s shared that his message to both Canadian and NFPA audiences elsewhere, “is that communities can help defend against wildfires by applying the principles of FireSmart, and for more information, visit www.firesmartcanada.ca to learn more on how to help reduce the wildfire risk they may face in their communities”

 

Photo Credit: Terry Reith/CBC (5 May 2016, Wildfires: The science of how they spread and how they're stopped - Technology & Science - CBC News

Dr Simeoni SFPE-NEC meeting presenting study about Wildland fire behavior.jpgOn Monday, May 2nd the New England chapter of the (SPFE) Society of Fire Protection Engineers held its final chapter meeting in Norwood, Massachusetts.  The evening meeting featured an interesting presentation by an internationally recognized leader in fire science, Dr. Albert Simeoni a senior manager with Exponent Inc.  He has also worked and volunteered with the Fire Department of North Corsica, France for 10 years, starting his career as a volunteer firefighter and ending his career there as a chief. Dr. Simeoni presented an integrated research project  that examined how wildland fires spread using new modeling methods that he developed.

 

His studies were examining wildland fire in the field because of the trend of growing wildfires.  He was trying to understand better about how to develop methodologies for studying wildland fires especially because of the growing concern about massive wildfires.  His fire modeling studies were completed this spring on plots of forested land in the pine barrens of New Jersey.  His 3-year goal is to look at the effectiveness of fuel treatments, but the long-term goal is to understand wildland fire behavior.  He used instruments such as a sonic anemometer to measure wind speed, flux calorimeters to measure variabilities in temperatures, airborne sensors on WASP planes to examine heat transfer, and LIDAR to look at canopy densities and height as well as samples of the forest vegetation (fuel).

This research is conducted in collaboration with the US Forest Service, the University of Edinburgh, Rochester Institute of Technology, and Tomsk State University. It is funded by two JFSP projects, one on fuel treatment effectiveness and the other one on firebrand production with the local support of the New Jersey Forest Fire Service.

The most interesting research component that was presented was some information about how embers are generated after the wildfire passed and the way that embers moved because of fluctuating winds during a wildfire event.  It reminded me of the importance that homeowners look at the home as well as their landscape when they are embracing Firewise principles.  He shared how many homes burn hours after the fire front passes due in large part to smoldering embers that have more oxygen to burn more intensely after the fire front passes.  The downloadable Firewise toolkit shares many simple changes that you can make to your home to keep it safer in the event of a wildfire.

wildlandFire.png
On Tuesday, June 14, a team from the University of Maryland and NFPA staff will discuss principles for improved design and protection of communities exposed to the threat of wildland fires at NFPA's annual Conference & Expo in Las Vegas.
NFPA's Dan Gorham, a Project Manager with the NFPA Research Foundation, holds an MS in Fire Protection Engineering from the University of Maryland, where he studied with Dr. Michael Gollner and others on such issues as wildland fire spread. Gorham is also an incident qualified wildland firefighter. Of this session, he said, "The intended outcome is for participants to learn about design considerations for new construction communities in the wildland-urban interface. Some of the consideration in community scale design go beyond factors of an individual structure, things like water supply and community layout."
Dr. Gollner and University of Maryland graduate students Raquel Hakes and Sara Caton will discuss fire protection engineering principles that can be useful as applied to wildfire safety at a community scale. Through research such as the Fire Protection Research Foundation report, Pathways for Building Fire Spread at the Wildland Urban Interface, Gollner and colleagues have found that there are a variety of codes and standards governing the design of WUI communities, but no design "guide" to lead engineers, community planners and AHJs in how to implement those requirements. Included will be an overview of the WUI problem, wildland fire behavior, pathways to fire spread, existing codes and standards, and water supply design, as well as simulation tools and online references. Attendees will be presented with a cohesive strategy for designing protection measures and a review of the many tools available in the field.
Register now and don't miss this intriguing session on new concepts for longstanding wildfire safety issues!
WHEN: Tue, Jun 14, 2016 - 3:30 PM to 5:00 PM
WHERE: Lagoon J, Mandalay Bay Convention Center

There is an old saying that knowledge is power.  When residents work together with their local fire responding agencies and forestry partners.  They can learn from them what their risks are and how to take steps to effectively reduce that risk.  The two communities whose stories are shared today talk about how they learned what their risk was as well as what steps to take to lessen their risk in the event of a wildfire event.

The Resort on Carefree Boulevard at North Fort Myers, FL

The Resort on Carefree Boulevard’s Environment and Grounds Committee held an all community education event with over 100 participants for Firewise Day. Many topics were discussed

carefreeBoulevard.png
Map of North Fort Meyers area in Lee County Florida from Wikipedia by Arkyn

including the importance of being a Firewise community, and how to increase community safety, and reduce wildfire risk. The event was filmed and later posted on the community’s web page for those who could not attend the meeting. The group is working on a sign for their conservation area, which notifies viewers of their Firewise status and potential prescribed burns. The Firewise Wildfire Community banner was hung over the entrance to the clubhouse for a week, and a fire safety brochure was distributed to the entire community.

The Resort on Carefree Boulevard shared with us, “Event participants gave us input that they were willing to join us in future efforts to reduce fire risk, personally and community-wide after they understood the ease of mitigating fire dangers.”

Alapine Village Subdivision Unit 2 at Centre, AL

Alapine Village held a Firewise meeting on Firewise Day. Alabama State Forester Colleen presented a slide show on how to create and maintain defensible space, and held a follow-up discussion with residents.

Alapine Village tells us, “Alabama Foresters helped to educate us when we knew nothing about defensible space. They provided continued support as we grew from improving individual lots to creating a firebreak around our whole 108 acres.”

canadaWildfire1.jpgLike many of you, we’re following the wildland fire in Alberta, Canada that has brought losses to the Canadian town of Fort McMurray and its various neighborhoods. Our thoughts are certainly with those who have been effected, those who have evacuated, and all those in the fire service engaging the wildfire.

 

The fire, which started over the weekend, has grown to 7,686 hectares (18,992 acres) as of this morning. Over 1,600 structures have been razed.  The wildfire is being driven by high temperatures and strong winds that are expected to continue till a shift calms conditions Thursday and Friday.

 

As more than 53,000 have been evacuated, the Fort McMurray neighborhood of Beacon Hill has seen initial lost estimates of 80% of homes, with surrounding neighborhoods also seeing damage.

Some resources below will help you follow the wildfire:

The Edmonton Journal is sharing breaking headlines and videos that capture the impacts of these fires.

 

canadaWildfire2.jpgThe Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) has an updating article on the wildfires and the evacuee concerns. There are many videos from Fort McMurray that help explain the situation.

 

CBC is also running a live blog that shares breaking information from the wildfire and operations activities.

 

The Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo is sharing wildfire updates, loss information, and the daily media briefings.

 

NFPA works closely with FireSmart Canada on our shared advocacy around wildfire preparedness and community action. Canadian residents can find beneficial information on their site to learn more about why wildfires occur and community action.

 

This blog post will be updated as relevant information becomes available.

 

Photo Credits

(Map): MapBox, Openstreetmap, Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo, The Canadian Press, (4 May 2016, http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/edmonton/wildfire-rages-in-fort-mcmurray-as-evacuees-settle-in-edmonton-1.3565573)

(Photo) Jason Franson/Canadian Press, ((4 May 2016, http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/edmonton/wildfire-rages-in-fort-mcmurray-as-evacuees-settle-in-edmonton-1.3565573)

100_natPark.pngThe US National Parks will celebrate their 100 year anniversary this year on August 25th.  Many people will be traveling to National Parks across the United States this summer to vacation at one of these beautiful natural and historic areas which were preserved for us to enjoy as the result of visionaries such as Theodore Roosevelt, John Muir, Steven T Mather, Marjory Stoneman Douglas and more. You may be surprised to see how close a National Park is located to you.

Did you know that they have a page on their website dedicated to fire stories from National Parks? These stories highlight events, wildfire incidents and educational opportunities that have been provided by the National Parks in 2015-2016.

100_roosevelt.pngOne very interesting article, Reducing the risk of train wheel sparks igniting a wildfire within the Grand Canyon National Park, spoke about how the National Park Service completed a project to lessen wildfire risk in the beautiful Grand Canyon from their railroad.  The article stated, "Grand Canyon Railway, in consultation with the National Park Service (NPS), will apply herbicide along their railroad tracks including those within Grand Canyon National Park. The purpose of this application is to inhibit the growth of vegetation adjacent to the railroad tracks, lowering the risk of train wheel sparks igniting a fire."  The benefit of this application is not only reducing wildfire risk but also keeping invasive plant species from spreading throughout the park from hitchhiking seeds that might fall off the train from one location to another.  This is a great success story where wildfire prevention efforts also help properly protect natural resources in our beautiful parks.

Do you have a success story to share? Read about other Firewise success stories on our website.

A trip was successful when you find it nearly impossible to describe all that was learned in 400 words and four pictures. So, I shot past the word count and added a fifth to share the Wildland Fire Division’s visit to Chile this past March.

 

chile1.jpgNFPA went to expand its knowledge of wildfire operations in a new environment and to see how these communities are bringing their experience to preparedness planning. Not surprisingly, there were both similarities and new factors not familiar to the American experience that help us better craft our role in wildfire safety advocacy. NFPA was also fortunate to spend time with those making a difference in Chile and to build relationships for the future.

 

Chile’s experience with wildfire provides lessons from time spent around the capitol, Santiago, and in the central region around Concepción and Chillán. About a quarter of Chile’s land is forested but the majority is privately owned, with nearly half of that utilized for commercial forestry operations for timber export to the world market. The visit exposed us to their developing WUI and existing intermix that would be at home in Colorado or Tennessee.

 

chile2.jpgWhere state and federal forest management often influence our U.S. experience, multi-national forestry plantation companies play a larger role in Chile’s land management. These homogeneous tree stands are on 12-24 year growth cycles and command a different focus in fire discussion. In many places, communities are next to, or within, these managed lands. These corporations are also involved in providing the fire operations and community outreach on their lands.

 

In Chile, nearly 80% of fires are arson caused. This makes public fire prevention education, forestry understanding, and community engagement programs a major emphasis for the national forestry agency, CONAF (Corporación Nacional Forestal), in the schools and in developing communities in each of its regions.

 

chile3.jpgClimate change is also altering their wildfire experience. Lightning storm activity and number of days over 86 Fahrenheit have increased over 2010-2015, while annual September-March rainy season accumulation has fallen. Similar to us, their “fire season” gets longer. With population growth, developing areas are now dryer and more at risk than before. In Concepción, we visited communities developed by the state for affordable housing goals that are on former plantation lands. This interface brings challenges to design and new resident understanding of the fire threat.

 

chile4.jpgThe visit began with our partners from South Africa who are bringing their wildland firefighter training efforts to new areas.

 

Working on Fire – Chile, operating with the commercial forestry company, ARAUCO, trains over 1,500 wildland firefighters annually that respond to over 2200 fires each seasonally. Special emphasis is focused on personnel actions both in training and in deployment. 

 

This provides tremendous operational “near-miss” research, leading to a strong culture of safety and injury prevention in the field.

 

chile5.jpgAt week’s end, the visit brought us back to Santiago to see first-hand, community workshop outreach achieved by CONAF’s Communities Preparing for Wildfire (Comunidad Preparada Frente a los Incendios Forestales). This expanding program presents fire education and steps residents can take to increase preparedness and community engagement.

 

As we continue to build beneficial relationships, trips like this to Chile help us see how Firewise Principles and NFPA’s wildfire safety advocacy can become part of this truly global effort.

arsonAwareness.jpgThe U.S. Fire Administration (USFA) has announced that its theme for 2016 National Arson Awareness Week is : Prevent Wildfire Arson – Spread the Facts Not the Fire

 

USFA and its partners are using the week of May 1 – 7 to focus particular attention on wildfire arson in the wildland/urban interface (WUI). USFA's theme complements other wildfire campaigns during this same week including Wildfire Awareness Week (part of FEMA's America's PrepareAthon! week) and NFPA's Wildfire Community Preparedness Day on Saturday, May 7.

Each year for National Arson Awareness Week, the USFA gathers and shares information to raise awareness on arson or youth firesetting, and provides individuals with strategies to combat these problems in their community.For instance, did you know that the leading cause of wildfires in Florida is arson? Or that 55 percent of wildfires in Kentucky are the result of arson?

This year's campaign offers a host of resources you can download and share including posters and brochures and templates.

Learn more about National Arson Awareness Week and its Prevent Wildfire Arson theme, and get information on court cases, motives, reward programs and resources on FEMA's site.

Additional information on arson, including fact sheets, statistics and reports can be found on NFPA's website.

ceWildfireSession.jpgFor the first time, NFPA's annual Conference & Expo will feature a full education session track dedicated to the topic of wildland fire. While many people think of California when they hear the word "wildfire," conference attendees will have the opportunity to hear from a fire service leader from another large and populous state and how it is meeting the challenges of growth into wild and rural areas prone to fire.

 

Texas has been experiencing rapid growth within what is known as the "[wildland/urban interface | http://texasforestservice.tamu.edu/content/landing.aspx?id=19782]" or WUI over the past ten years. From 2005 to 2014 there were 157,292 wildfires in Texas that burned 9,488,859 acres. The challenge is not simply suppressing woods or grass fires. Nearly 80 percent of all the wildfires in Texas are within two miles of a community.

 

Bruce Woods, Department Head for Mitigation and Prevention with the Texas A&M Forest Service, will discuss how these fires that threaten communities not only present multiple challenges to fire departments, but also impact the entire community. He will explain how to implement successful tactical strategies in the WUI through preparedness and mitigation activities. In addition, attendees will learn how to determine wildfire risks using web-based risk assessment tools, implementing proactive programs aimed at empowering citizens, foundational elements of a Community Wildfire Protection Plan, and using lessons learned from recent wildfires to craft a sound tactical response plan.

 

Woods says, "From my experiences in Texas, when wildfires occur within or near a community it presents emergency responders with complex challenges that can’t be just addressed by a singular focus on wildland fire suppression capabilities.  It is critical that Fire Chiefs and elected community leaders implement mitigation and prevention programs that produce tangible results in reducing wildfire hazards within communities."

 

[Register today | http://www.nfpa.org/training/conferences/conference/register] to ensure your opportunity to learn from the experts on an array of fire and hazard safety topics!

 

 

SESSION TITLE:

M41 - Meeting the Challenges of the Wildland Urban Interface

 

WHEN: Monday, June 13, 11:00 am - Noon

 

WHERE: Lagoon J, Mandalay Bay Convention Center

 

 

 

 

 

 

Filter Blog

By date: By tag: