The September/October NFPA Journal® is out and its Wildfire column asks how we create the local conversation needed for residents to understand their risk. Not surprisingly, Wildfire Community Preparedness Day is a good place to start.
For some backstory, I was in Vacarisses, Spain, visiting NFPA’s wildfire partner, the Pau Costa Foundation, this past May to see firsthand their work with communities at risk to wildfire. Their region is seeing former agricultural lands transition back to native landscapes and with that, a return of the natural fire ecology. While agriculture previously kept wildfire at bay, the Foundation is using Wildfire Community Preparedness Day as a tool to explain these changes and what wildfire now means for residents.
The Prep Day event in Vacarisses combined risk reduction educational messaging with local government promotion. The outreach was made stronger still by additional promotion of the day’s value by the regional council of governments and regional fire authority. All of this started a conversation about wildfire that was not discussed by residents before and got people talking about the positive role they can play in community risk reduction.
The value of using Prep Day to start the conversation in a community stuck with me and it didn’t take me long to find that same focus in many of the 2018 funding award submission descriptions. From a rural fire department in Oklahoma and a municipal fire department in California both connecting with their local at-risk residents for the first time, to communities connecting with overlooked populations, the goal for many – as one submitter shared – was to “keep the conversation going beyond our May 5th event.”
Learn more about the value of creating the conversation in this month’s NFPA Journal® Wildfire column.
Photo Credit: Lucian Deaton