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2017

Map your project today, and check out the map to see who is participating in the event nationwide. Wildfire Community Preparedness Day provides a wonderful opportunity for communities to work on reducing their risk of loss due to wildfire and celebrate the success of grassroots efforts.  Check out the map to see which communities are working on projects in different states as well as within your own region. You can make new connections and share about what is working for you with others.  You don't have to be a GIS specialist to get your project on the map.  NFPA made it simple and easy to do, you just need to type in an address and the mapping application will do the rest.

 

As you work to make a difference in the survivability of your community, give yourselves a shout out and map your project today!

Get ready to participate in your own Wildfire Community Preparedness Day event.  People from around the nation have sent NFPA newspaper articles, flyers, newsletters, and Facebook posts etc. to share a little bit about the success and excitement surrounding May 6.  There are 150 communities nationwide completing project work with funding provided by State Farm.  There are even more communities celebrating the day along with those awarded funding.  

 

It is amazing to hear about youth, seniors, fire departments and communities all working together to celebrate this day and make a difference!  An article in Cleveland, Georgia shared about the importance of this event to raise public awareness in their wildfire-prone region.  The article about their event stated that they were going to bring together people of all age groups to learn about the role each of them could play to improve their wildfire safety.  An article about Pinewood Estates in New Jersey shared how they were going to use the event as part of their preparation to become a Firewise Community.

 

For those last minute preparations NFPA has resources you need:  

  • There is a safety tip sheet to help your event run smoothly with no injuries. 
  • A press release template that you can use to share before and after the event about your success.
  • Success stories to give you some ideas about a little something extra to add to your event.
  • A fillable flyer, to help promote your event at your local school, library, fire station and more.
  • Social media information and a web banner for you to use to promote your event on social media.
  • Downloadable logo
  • And don’t forget for purchase gloves, banners, stickers and multi-use decals for as many t-shirts as your community needs.

Get involved today and the simple things we do on Wildfire Community Preparedness Day can make a huge difference in protecting the things we love tomorrow.  

Two points caught my eye in a recent article about the ongoing fires in Florida.  

 

First, “Man Saves Rhino” is not an article topic one usually expects in the world of wildfire. Yet, it’s what occurred when the owner of a wild life preserve went back to help firefighters evacuate a rhino from its pen as the flame front turned and embers flew through the air.

 

Second, the article sets the imagery of what being caught in a wildfire looks like, and graphically, what it feels like. The preserve owner received 2nd degree burns on exposed skin over 18% of his body and explains in his own words, how he managed.

 

I use the word “graphically” to express the article’s approach and not to stigmatize or sensationalize what burn victims grow through. Massive burns can incite shock in the public eye but groups like NFPA and the Phoenix Society for Burn Survivors show the strength of burn survivors and importantly, share their stories of perseverance and their safety lessons for us all.

 

There are many resources to help advance understanding and support for burn victims and safety.

 

The Phoenix Society provides burn survivors and their families with resources and programs to help. Their annual Phoenix World Burn Congress shares education and connects peers along the “journey of burn recovery.”

 

The Phoenix Society’s Executive Director, Amy Action gave a recent presentation on, “The Human Impacts of Fire” that address burn victims and safety education.

 

NFPA also works with the Phoenix Society on advocacy around sprinklers as well as other issues like electrical fires. The NFPA Fire Sprinkler Initiative shares its Faces of Fire campaign and NFPA promotes burn awareness through various risk and age-based resources.

 

I encourage you to learn more and to support those effected by fires of all kinds.  Even Rhino.  

 

Photo Credit: Raquel Landry, Wildfire burn victim Donovan Smith: 'It was like Armageddon', Eric Staats. USAToday. Published 25Aprill17. Photo pulled 27April17

Participating in a Wildfire Community Preparedness Day event on May 6 can help your community take care of cleaning up the little things around homes and throughout neighborhoods that can increase chances of survival.  Jack Cohen, a US Forest Service Researcher has shared many times that by taking care of the little things you can make a difference in the survivability of homes. Never was that more vividly real to me than today when I saw damage to a hotel in Gatlinburg, Tennessee from embers that had collected on a beam and thought about cleaning up my own gutters again. 

 

The Wildfire Community Preparedness Day web page shares ideas for actions you can take to make your neighborhood safer from wildfire.

 

Project ideas include:

  •       Really focusing on reducing or replacing wood mulch in the first 5 feet around the home with rock and other landscape improvements.
  •       Helping a neighbor who is unable to do so clean up their yard. If their home is safe yours will be too.
  •       Getting students involved in community-wide cleanup projects.
  •       Hosting a community clean-up day or chipping day and more!

 

Check it out, and participate on May 6.  We can all do something small that can make a big difference!

 

2017 Wildfire Community Preparedness Day banner

Earth Day, Wildfire Safety, Firewise, Earth Smarts

Tomorrow the world celebrates Earth Day and NFPA is doing its part to protect Mother Earth by participating in activities found in our Earth Smart Checklist. The checklist is a great resource for kids and families alike and includes tasks everyone can do together. Did you know that by completing all of the activities on the list, you'll not only protect animals, trees and plants, but you'll also be helping reduce the risk of damage to your home and property from a wildfire, too!

 

The following are examples of some of the great activities you can do with your family on Earth Day :

* Rake dead leaves, sticks and pine needles off your lawn

* Remove leaves and twigs and anything flammable from under the deck

* Give the plants and shrubs plenty of water to keep them hydrated

 

But don't stop there. Go ahead and download the checklist to find more tips and ideas that will help you “stay green” and wildfire safe on Earth Day and all year long!

Success stories have been shared with NFPA by the communities who are participating in this year’s Wildfire Community Preparedness Day.  Some communities are doing an incredible job of getting the word out about their participation on this important day of awareness and action, May 6, 2017.  Their stories celebrate the enthusiasm of their cooperative efforts to keep their communities safer in the event of a wildfire.

 

In Hawaii, a muti-agency effort, which includes two dozen state, county and federal agencies and the  Hawaii Wildfire Management Organization are promoting a Wildfire Prep Day photo contest on Linkedin, and on Facebook.  A photo contest is being held with prizes being awarded including a hydrofoil surfing fin.  The celebration will occur on May 6, in Hale, Hawaii from 9 am to 4 pm Aleutian Time Zone.

 

In Woodland Park, Colorado, the local paper the Pikes Peak Courier, reported about a Preparedness Day seminar about defensible space that is being hosted.  The event details shared about how neighbors are cooperating to make changes that will lessen their risk of loss.

 

In Descanso, California, the Descanso Emergency Planning Group and Descanso Fire Safe Council have created a flyer that has been shared through their email tree about celebrating Wildfire Community Preparedness Day on May 6, with a preparedness workshop for people and their pets to get ready before a wildfire occurs.

 

We would like to hear about how you are promoting your Wildfire Community Preparedness Day activities.  Be a part of the solution to lessen your community’s risk of loss and tell others in your community how they can participate.  NFPA has provided a press release template on the Wildfire Community Preparedness Day website to help you get started.

Video of Colorado 2017 Wildfire Season Briefing

 

At a press briefing on the 2017 wildfire season anticipated for Colorado, Governor John Hickenlooper opened with some important information for residents. Although Colorado's wildfire activity in the first few months of this year has been average or perhaps below average, the Governor said, "..it is exactly the time we want to make a couple points strongly. First, to make sure that we have the systems in place and the personal preparedness for evacuations when we need them. Then, on a parallel track, making sure that we have the home readiness, what we refer to as Firewise, making sure that people that live in the wildland/urban interface, their homes are prepared to withstand a fire should it occur."

 

Governor Hickenlooper went on to describe the components of home wildfire preparedness, including creating defensible space, using safe building materials and landscaping practices. He added, "People can go to Firewise.org. If you go to Firewise.org and spend a half an hour there, I think there is a high probability you will be much better prepared for a fire than you would otherwise."

 

Colorado's State Fire Director, Mike Morgan, elaborated on the response plans and agreements in place across the state, predictive weather services, and coping with human-caused fires. Watch the briefing here.

NFPA is pleased to announce that it’s Wildfire Community Preparedness Day has been honored by the governor of Colorado with a State Proclamation!  The proclamation endorses community engagement in activities on May 6, Wildfire Community Preparedness Day, which can make a difference in the outcome a community has during a wildfire.

 

The proclamation encourages actions by neighbors and communities to work together on May 6, Wildfire Community Preparedness Day to lessen their risk of loss in the event of a wildfire.  It further shares that these efforts can improve the resiliency of Colorado communities.  Visit the Wildfire Community Preparedness site today and learn how your community can participate in this national event.

A collaborative working group of organizations in Australia including: The Centre for Health Research, School of Medicine, Western Sydney University, Sydney, NSW, Australia; Bushfire and Natural Hazards Cooperative Research Centre, Melbourne, VIC, Australia; Senior Lecturer Organizational Psychology, Macquarie University, Sydney, NSW, Australia have worked together to study what new strategies and tactics will help increase human survival rates by helping animal owners learn to better interact with emergency responders before and during bushfire (wildfire) events.  The name of the paper is; “Don’t just do something… stand there!”  emergency responders’ peri-incident perceptions of animal owners in bushfire.

 

The study is focusing on enhancing awareness of risk during a fire and increasing the preparedness of animals and their owners by having them develop a better working and more effective communication with emergency responders before a wildfire event.  The data that defined the research was extrapolated from focus groups and semi-structured interviews.  The analysis of this data showed that there were positive outcomes when animal owners and emergency responders developed a “reciprocal collaborative relationship.”  Simple solutions were explored.

 

Did you know that the NFPA provides great resources available on NFPA’s TakeAction page to help animal owners better prepare for a wildfire before a wildfire event? There are 2 downloadable PDFs one called the Household Pet Evacuation Kit and the other Horses and Livestock evacuation checklist.  There is also a cute video for children about preparing pets before a wildfire.  Check out these resources to help you and your animals be better prepared for wildfire.

 

Bonnie Cobb and Gov Jay Inslee - Four Mound Community, Nine Mile Falls, WA

Recently, WA Governor Jay Inslee named Bonnie Cobb, from the Four Mound Community in Nine Mile Falls, Washingtonian of the Day for her work in helping the community become a nationally recognized Firewise site and for her commitment to help others reduce wildfire risks.

 

Cobb is a dedicated and motivated advocate who lost all her outbuildings and a haystack in the Firestorm 1991 wildfire.  She says she learned from that experience and now helps other homeowners avoid what happened to her.

 

Bonnie has been the Fire Chief of Spokane Fire District 5, and is currently on the department’s Board of Commissioners and is also their Firewise Coordinator.

 

On behalf of NFPA and the Firewise USA program, we send kudos to Bonnie for all her efforts to reduce wildfire risks!

Map of Florida wildfires April 11 2017When there's a wildfire burning in nearly every county in your state, what do you do? In Florida, responders and communicators are working hard to get numerous large wildfires under control while keeping the public informed, aware, and as safe as possible. On Friday, Wildfire Today reported wildfires in Broward County burning thousands of acres. The national Incident Information System or InciWeb, records large incidents on national forests, preserves and refuges, and as of this morning (April 11) reports approximately 38,000 acres burned over the past 5 days on these federal lands in Florida. 

Large wildfires in a state as densely populated and frequently visited as Florida pose a variety of problems, not the least of which are smoke impacts on public health and visibility for driving. In addition to transportation warnings and road closures, Florida's public information officers are at the top of the newsfeed about how to prepare your home and how to be ready for possible evacuations as flames and embers encroach on inhabited areas.

Florida state forester Jim Karels warns that residents should not be complacent because of a few recent rainshowers. "Normally, it's safe if you follow the regulations that the Florida Forest Service has in place," said Karels in an interview with WCTV, referring to the practice of burning lawn clippings or debris. "But right now, we recommend you don't burn," he said.

Wildfire Mitigation Specialist Patrick Mahoney with the Florida Forest Service Myakka District, is also providing advice for Floridians about preparing their homes before a fire. His advice includes cleaning out gutters and removing debris from near the home. 

For more about preparing your home when smoke is in the air - or long before - visit www.firewise.org and be sure to download tips for high fire danger days.

Are you ready to participate in Wildfire Community Preparedness Day activities?  This year NFPA at the request of some of the Wildfire Community Preparedness Day participants has developed a few products to help promote the day, make the day safer and provide a fun take home souvenir.  Check out the new Wildfire Community Preparedness Day catalog for quality products that you can purchase for your Prep Day event.

 

NFPA is looking forward to hearing about all of the wonderful events going on across the United States.  NFPA has also provided free resources such as a fillable flyer and press release to support local community participation in your project as well as a safety tip sheet to make sure that participants stay safe.

I was reading my FEMA newsletter and came across some great information about protecting your finances in the event of an emergency.  Did you know that April is financial literacy month?   This is a good month to get your financial paperwork in order.

FEMA shared a great video that gave some guidance to help you get started.   FEMA also provides a financial toolkit and resources in English and Spanish to help you be better financially prepared for a disaster.  Talk to your financial advisor to get professional advice to help you be more resilient no matter what happens. Some ideas to help you get started are:

  • Look at your home, and check out the Firewise website for ideas to make your home safer from loss due to wildfire.  NFPA’s Firewise USA™ provides some great resources to help protect one of your biggest investments, your home.
  • Know what your financial obligations are so that you plan to meet them if there is a disaster.
  • Read through your insurance policy.  If you are not sure what is covered, go over it with your agent.  Questions to consider include such things as; 1. Does your policy provide assistance for clean-up sometime hazmat after a fire or other natural disaster? 2. Are costs covered to stay in another place until you can rebuild? 3. How much are your personal effects (ie. television, furniture etc.) insured for?
  • You don’t have to be a homeowner to have insurance.  Renter’s insurance is just as important to help you be prepared.
  • Complete a home inventory of everything in your home take pictures and save receipts.  So that you have proof of what you have in your home.  Many insurance companies provide guidance for you to do so.   
  • Make copies of your taxes and other financial paperwork that you keep in a safe deposit box or other secure location.  If something happens and you don’t have your credit cards etc. you will have a hard time getting access to your resources and a harder time rebuilding if you don’t have your insurance paperwork. 

Take steps today to prepare your home, community and financial health before a disaster occurs. NFPA provides resources and connections that can help you today.  The steps that you take today will help you recover far quicker if a disaster does occur.

The Colorado State Forest Service, (CSFS), La Junta District is home to two National Historic sites that are pilots for demonstrating wildfire preparedness for the public.

 

Bent's Old Fort, a National Park Service Historic Site, was built in 1833 as a place for trade between Indians and trappers and later became a key staging area for the U.S. Army's march on Mexico in 1846.  The Sand Creek Massacre Historic Site represents some of the less positive aspects of our history with native tribes since that event in 1864.  But today, these two places have become points of education on not only history, but also, wildfire preparedness.

 

In partnership with NFPA, CSFS is one of 5 pilot states for Firewise Education Sites.  These are places where significant wildfire risk reduction activities are taking place, but lacking full time residents, do not qualify for recognition in NFPA's Firewise USA program.  The states asked NFPA to help them come up with a way that these sites could be showcased without the formal recognition.  Each state in the pilot program manages the work in the sites and ensures that they meet the wildfire risk reduction concepts found in the Firewise USA program.

 

Firewise State Liaison, Courtney Peterson of CSFS led the partnership between the National Park Service, CSFS, and local volunteers to get the wildfire mitigation work completed and education signage and materials developed.  The sites and the materials are designed to demonstrate what individuals can do to make their homes more ignition resistant to wildfires.  For more information see here and here.

NFPA has opened the registration for the FEMA-funded 2 day (HIZ) Assessing Structure Ignition Potential from Wildfire training in Santa Fe, New Mexico for June 21-22.  This valuable training is a must have for any fire service person who works in areas at risk of loss from wildfire.  Wildfires are growing in intensity and frequency and are causing greater loss in areas across the nation like Tennessee, Kansas, New Jersey, Oklahoma, Hawaii and other states and regions people don't always think are at risk from wildfire hazards.

 

If you work as a firefighter, fire prevention officer, fire marshal or in another capacity with any local, county, volunteer, tribal or state fire department apply today for your opportunity to attend this class.  Training provided in this class will help fire service personnel better understand why homes burn during wildfires and how to share with homeowners what steps they can take that can help them reduce their risk of loss due to a wildfire.

 

Costs covered by the FEMA grant include registration, course materials, travel, per diem for meals and hotel costs.  This is a great opportunity for small and financially challenged fire departments to obtain this training that can help make a difference in the safety of their communities. Apply today for your opportunity to attend.

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