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January 11, 2018 Previous day Next day

In the January/February NFPA Journal Wildfire column, I ask that before we rush to find answers about the recent fires in California, we pause to consider whether we’re even asking the right questions.


We want to be whole again after such a devastating event, but in the days and weeks that followed the September-October wildfires, media outlets and policy wonks were pitching blame and churning out neat solutions to our wildfire problem.


The media response got me thinking if we are asking the right questions about the fire or just rehashing old assumptions for the current news cycle. In the face of these fires, we need to challenge presumed orthodoxies about wildfire. I hope you enjoy the column.


I should add that when the column was written, the fires were still raging and subsequently, the loss figures mentioned unfortunately grew.  This tragedy has assumed a new form over the past two days as heavy rains have caused mudslides across the exposed landscape.  With 17 deaths and over a dozen unaccounted for, our thoughts and prayers are with the families and friends of those lost and missing.  

Wildfire risk reduction requires committed and dedicated residents striving to reduce their wildfire risks; and in 2017, a total of 170 new participating sites completed the criteria to become nationally recognized through the National Fire Protection Association’s Firewise™ USA program.


The newest participants join sites throughout 42 states that annually complete a required set of criteria to remain in a good standing status. Since 2002, the program has provided a framework and guidelines for residents to implement important actions that better prepare their homes for wildfires. There’s currently 1,479 active Firewise sites located in areas with a wildfire potential.


States adding the most new Firewise USA sites during the recent calendar year include: Washington: 20; Colorado: 20; Oregon: 19; California: 17 and Arkansas: 14.


Learn more about how residents can proactively impact their home’s potential survivability during a wildfire and start coordinating your neighbors into becoming a participant during 2018.

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