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2017

Photo shared by Los Angelas City Fire of the La Tuna Fire 

A free webinar is being offered by the Southwest Fire Science Consortium on Wednesday, December 6, 2017, from 12 - 1 PM Mountain Time.  Crystal Stonesifer, from the USDA Rocky Mountain Research Station, will be speaking about; “Federal fire managers’ perceptions of the importance, scarcity, and sustainability of suppression resources.”

 

The webinar will be sharing the results of a survey that was designed and taken by US Forest Service employees who have direct or indirect responsibility for ordering suppression resources.  The survey tried to ask questions that would help identify how fire managers distinguish between suppression resource importance, scarcity and sustainability during times of elevated wildfire risk.  They will also discuss topics relating to firefighter risk, exposure, and risk transfer themes. You can register today to participate in this free webinar opportunity.

FLASH (The Federal Alliance for Safe Homes) is a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting safer better-built homes.  I attended the National Disaster Resilience Conference hosted by FLASH in Atlanta, Georgia on October 25-27 which brought together some of the industry leaders in preparedness including architects, researchers, insurance industry leaders, political leaders as well as leaders in the media including NBC and the Weather Channel.   The main topic was; how can we be more resilient in light of the billion dollar recent disasters that occurred across the US, including the hurricanes in Florida and Texas and the recent Northern California wildfires?

 

According to the FLASH Newsroom, “We are bringing together some of the best minds in our movement at this critical time to rethink the way we approach disasters in the United States,” said FLASH President and CEO Leslie Chapman-Henderson. “Together, we must identify ways to overcome these extraordinary challenges and profoundly improve disaster outcomes. At the end of the conference, we will outline a statement of priorities to mitigate the deaths, injuries, and destruction unfolding all too often in communities across the country.”

 

Some of the speakers included Craig Fugate formerly with FEMA, Lt. General Russel L. Honore US Army retired, and Rick Knabb Ph.D., hurricane and tropical program manager with the Weather Channel.  They presented about a variety of topics on a host of natural disasters including hurricanes, tornados, and floods.  Some of the topics discussed were resilience in the workplace, building with new emerging products and technologies, and of particular interest was how to partner with traditional media to tell a new story about how to be more resilient in the event of a disaster.

As residents at risk from wildfires continue to search for options that will help protect their homes when threatened, the final 2017 edition of the five-part Wildfire Research Fact Sheet series produced by the National Fire Protection Association's (NFPA) Firewise USA program and the Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety (IBHS), provides information on coatings that will assist in their quest for information.

 

The November fact sheet outlines the use of coatings and includes: product types, application requirements and performance limitations.

 

Given the current performance limitations of coatings, the research recommends other proven mitigation strategies to reduce vulnerabilities of homes to wildfire, such as using ember-resistant design features and creating and maintaining the home ignition zones.

 

If you missed the earlier editions in the fact sheets series, they’re a must-read on the latest research topics which include: Roofing; Decks; Fencing and Attic and Crawl Space Vents.

 

Forestry agencies and fire departments can utilize the fact sheets in their educational outreach efforts by customizing them with their agency/department logo.

 

Three homes of various sizes outlined with the three areas of the Home Ignition Zone.  Photo show how there can be over lap between two properties.

This past year, the NFPA worked with curriculum developers and instructors to revise the Assessing Structure Ignition Potential from Wildfire (HIZ) course. These revisions were based on scientific experiments and post fire evaluations that examined how homes burned during a wildfire.

 

As we’ve shared in previous blogs and resources, embers and small flames from low intensity surface fires continue to be the primary sources of ignition. What has changed is what we call the focus areas within the HIZ, where they are located, and the emphasis on the HOME as the most important component to address.

Instead, of numbered areas, the names are focused areas for ignition potential:

  • Immediate: home and 0-5 feet
  • Intermediate: 5-30 feet
  • Extended: 30-100 feet, possibly out to 200'

 

These focus areas correspond to the priorities of how homes should be assessed for ignition potential, working from the home out to the property line.

 

Check out The ember threat and the home ignition zone section on Firewise.org to learn more about the focus areas and what actions you can take to reduce your risk.

If you are thinking about what activities you and your family, friends, and neighbors would like to do to improve your wildfire preparedness capabilities, consider participating in next year’s Wildfire Community Preparedness Day on May 5, 2018.  This is a great opportunity to work together to address your risk with actions that can improve your community’s resilience.

 

Now is the time to work on a plan of action and collaborate with agency partners to help you in identifying risks to your community.  NFPA’s Firewise USA site also has resources you can use to understand what your risks are in the home ignition zone.

 

Create your plan and get ready to apply next year from January 8, through March 2, 2018, for one of 150 funding awards, with generous support from State Farm that will be given to help with project implementation.   Participate on this day to be a part of helping to create safer, more resilient communities across the nation.

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