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NWCG  InciWeb photo gallery 2015_06_27- 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

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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.

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