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2018
residents raking up flammable debris near a houseIf you are wondering if wildfire safety projects are worth the effort, check out the Fire Adapted Communities Learning Network’snew blog, “Does Wildfire Mitigation Work? 16 Examples and Counting.” The article explores success stories shared from seven western states including Oregon, Colorado, Utah, Arizona, Idaho, Nevada, and California.
The stories highlight the importance of working on wildfire preparedness projects focusing on the home and the area surrounding the home, the Home Ignition Zone. One example of a home in Redding, California that survived the Carr Fire was a home owned by Randal Hauser. He not only had made changes to his home including a metal roof and clean gutters but also paid attention especially to the five-foot zone around the home using cement walkways, crushed rock, and other non-combustible materials.
In Nevada, another homeowner who made updates to his home including a class A rated roof, concrete border and deck made with synthetic materials was given assistance by the Nevada Division of Forestry to help with supplemental fuels work. Even though the Berry Fire came within feet of his home, his home was spared and he is credited with creating a safer location for firefighters to stage their firefighting efforts.
For other great stories of success and survival check out the Fire Adapted Learning Network’s blog.  Also, check out other examples of Firewise USA® site success stories. Wildfire project safety work does make a difference. We can all play a role in creating safer neighborhoods and cities. Learn more about how you can get involved today!
Image credit: Residents engage in wildfire safety project work in Bustins Island, Maine. Photo by Faith Berry, NFPA.
Screenshot of The Weather Channel video on YouTube
The Weather Channel has created a video that shows how a wildfire spreads. It does not take much for a fire to ignite when the conditions are right, and this video not only gives you an on the ground view but also provides a bird’s eye view with nicely embedded graphics.
Other weather conditions like high winds, low relative humidity in the vegetation, and extended drought conditions can all contribute to wildfire intensity.
By better understanding what causes wildfires and home ignitions during wildfires, residents can better prepare their homes and landscape surrounding the home before a wildfire occurs and have plans in place to make their escape more quickly. Check out the video to get a sense of what a wildfire can be like.
ASIP training field work - students evaluate a home for ignition resistanceCalifornia has experienced large, destructive wildfires in the past few years that have led to thousands of destroyed homes and businesses. The time is NOW for fire service, facility managers, and insurance and realty professionals to learn how to identify and prevent ignition risks to homes. NFPA will bring its Assessing Structure Ignition Potential from Wildfire classroom training to the Hyatt Regency Orange County in the Garden Grove area of Anaheim on December 13-14, 2018. 
Participants will learn the science behind how homes ignite from wildfire. More importantly, they'll find out the best ways to advise property owners about actions that will help prevent ignition and reduce the chances of home destruction during a brush or forest fire. Register now for NFPA's Assessing Structure Ignition Potential from Wildfire two-day training. This class will provide valuable skills and knowledge to help you in your wildfire safety and loss prevention mission.
screenshot Meghan Housewright, Michele Steinberg and Miranda Mockrin, Idaho State Capitol
Presenters on issues surrounding wildfire risk, land use and regulation came together last week at the Idaho State Capitol Building in Boise to speak on Law, Planning and Wildfire in the Wildland-Urban Interface. Subtitled "the future of government and governance of disaster in the West," the day-long symposium was coordinated by University of Idaho College of Law associate dean and law professor Stephen Miller along with Tyre Holfeltz,  Lands Program Manager on Fire Prevention and Risk Mitigation for the Idaho Department of Lands. Stemming from a federal grant received several years ago to address wildfire issues at the community level, the symposium was designed to bring together experts from diverse arenas to open a conversation on the challenges of wildfire risk reduction on private lands.
The presentations ranged from economic trends to post-fire recovery planning to case studies of successful planning activities to the limits of planning approaches - and even telling the story of wildfire and community through art. The day was packed with thoughtful conversation and discussion from multiple perspectives.
The call for papers for this event went out nearly a year ahead of time. Submitters wrote papers that will be published in the Idaho Law Review, including one that I worked on with my colleague Meghan Housewright regarding the impact of absentee landowners and vacant property on WUI risks. For a recording of the full session, visit the Idaho in Session archives page of Idaho Public Television.
Image: screenshot from Idaho Public Television recording on October 19, 2018, showing the panel on the limits of planning for wildfire in the WUI. From left to right, Miranda Mockrin, Research Scientist, US Forest Service Northern Research Station; Meghan Housewright, Director, NFPA Fire and Life Safety Policy Institute; Michele Steinberg, Director, NFPA Wildfire Division.

Sue Tone of the Prescott, Arizona, Daily Courier provides the background on the creation of the "Project Andrew" video in her recent article, "Collaborative efforts for fire safety video debut." The family of fallen firefighter Andrew Ashcraft, who died with 18 of his fellow Granite Mountain Hotshot crew members at Yarnell Hill in 2013, has helped initiate not only a new Firewise USA® site near the Prescott National Forest, but has also joined in collaboration with multiple agencies on a fuels mitigation Forest Stewardship Plan.
As the article notes, Yavapai County ranks 4th in the nation for numbers of Firewise USA sites in good standing. Timber Ridge in Prescott, the county seat, was the first Firewise USA site when the program began in 2002. The Prescott Area Wildland Urban Interface Commission, or PAWUIC, has been active for even longer than the Firewise program, bringing agencies and landowners together around wildfire safety since 1990. Yet the need for collaborative efforts and fire adapted community action has never been greater, as wildfires continue as a growing threat.
"Project Andrew: A Yavapai Firewise Community in Arizona" is just over 6 minutes and well worth a view of what can be done to reduce wildfire risks across private and public lands. The "healing haven" that Tom Ashcraft, his wife Jenn, and so many others are helping create is a true testament to his son's mission of protecting life and property from wildfire.
It is that time of year and you are working hard to make your yard and home safer from wildfire, so what do you do with the pine needles, leaves, branches, weeds and other stuff you get rid of from on and around your home?  In my recent travels to film stories about communities who made a difference in their wildfire safety, I heard from one homeowner who told me that before they knew it created greater risk, they just threw the grass clippings and other debris they removed doing yard work downhill below their home.  An even worse scenario is when, individuals remove material from their yards and dump it in a park or other common area.
It is just as important to properly dispose of the debris that you remove as it is to complete your home wildfire safety maintenance project.  That is the important final step of any project work.  Removing debris improperly or just keeping it on your property can add flammable material that can ignite from embers or burn from other flame sources and actually contribute to increased risk of loss from wildfire.
It is important to know what you are going to do with all the stuff you want to remove to reduce your wildfire risk.  Some solutions include:
1. Use goats to eat up unwanted material.  Did you know they love to eat poison oak?
2. Haul debris to a local solid waste facility.  Some will even compost the material.
3. Burning can be an option if it is carried out and coordinated with your local fire and other land managing agencies.  One community had a portable incinerator they used that burnt even large branches to tiny ash.   Make sure you are aware of all ordinances in your community before using this option. In some areas there are air pollution regulations to be aware of.
4. Chip material, and keep mulched material at least five feet away from your home.  One community donated clean chips to a local recreation area for trail maintenance work.
5. Find a biomass facility that can use the material for a product like pellets for wood stoves.
6. Create craft objects such as picture frames etc. from materials removed from around their yard.  This can actually become a community fund raising project!
 
7.Pool resources to rent a green dumpster to help neighborhood residents remove debris in a cost effective way.  Enjoying a meal together afterwards helps build on relationships developed by working together cleaning up.
For more ideas about how communities worked together to reduce their threat of loss during a fire check out the Prep Day success pages. What solution have you created to remove your materials?

Title screen of new  course, homes and wildfire in the background

 

Gain a basic understanding of how wildfires spread and ignite homes in our new interactive  class, Understanding the Wildfire Threat to Homes. An overview of fire history, fire basics, and how homes burn. This easy to follow course is available on our website, does not require a log in, and should take approximately thirty minutes to complete. Residents and stakeholders will learn about:

  • The threat of wildfire to homes and communities.
  • Three things that can affect the speed and intensity of wildfire.
  • The primary sources of ignition for a home during a wildfire.

 

You will also hear from Jack Cohen as he shares some simple actions that greatly decrease the threat from embers and surface fires. Use and share this knowledge to increase the chances of homes and other community assets surviving a wildfire.


As Jack says, if your home doesn't ignite, it can't burn.

In the September/October 2018 edition, the NFPA Journal remembers the 100th anniversary of Minnesota’s chaotic and deadly Cloquet fire

 

Starting on October 12, 1918, the wildfire would tear through 35 towns, leaving thousands of structures destroyed and nearly 560 fatalities in its path.  

 

The article shares newspaper reports of the time that paint the tragic picture of people trying to escape the flames and the fire’s wild aftermath.

 

As a reminder for us all today, the Journal shares that, “An article published by NFPA in January 1919 pointed to a lack of preventative measures, such as creating firebreaks by clearing vegetation and plowing, which contributed to the fire’s devastation."

 

Catch the full article here in the September/October NFPA Journal.

Picture shows community members standing in a group near a pickup truck and a trailer both loaded with branches and vegetation.  The trailer is overflowing with debris from their wildfire risk reduction activity

 

According to a Vail Daily article, Colorado is ranked third in the nation with homes located in areas of high wildfire risk. With this risk comes responsibility for homeowners to educate themselves about how to reduce their risk and take action to complete wildfire safety projects. The Colorado Realtor's first project was creating a guide to inform homeowners about their risk and define steps that could be taken to reduce their risk of loss through “Project Wildfire”.

 

Reading through the Colorado Realtor’s website I noticed that they wanted to develop other incentives for encouraging residents to get involved in mitigation efforts including, “Support the idea of creating incentives (tax deductions or credits, lower interest rates) for residents who provide evidence of voluntary wildfire safety compliance.”

 

The article described how homeowners can make a significant difference by completing wildfire safety project work, in not only improving their home’s survivability but also providing for the safety of responding firefighters. Learn more about how you can create effective changes and improve the survivability of your neighborhood by visiting the Firewise USA ® site and share your success story with us here.

 

Photo credit: Wildfire safety project work in Mosca, Colorado submitted by Anna Dvorak.

Preparing a home and property to resist ignition from a wildfire can seem like an overwhelming task.  Where do you start?  What type of and how much vegetation do you remove?  Does it all have to go?  Who makes the decisions? 
Firewise USA® has a new video that helps answer those questions. Watch as a wildfire mitigation specialist evaluates a home and property with owners.  See what concerns she identifies and learn the steps recommended to reduce the likelihood of ignition.  Listen as the homeowners share their initial fears about being left out of the decision making process and their reaction to the work that has been done.
Remember, it's all about making choices.
Fire Prevention Week logoFire Prevention Week begins on October 7. It's the perfect time to find out more about wildfire and what you can do to keep your home and family safe!
This year's theme is "Look. Listen. Learn. Be aware. Fire can happen anywhere." This is just as true of wildfire as it is about any other fire risk your home faces. In that spirit, NFPA's Wildfire Division is offering three new ways for you to get wildfire safety information throughout the week.
LOOK at our brand new wildfire risk reduction video debuting on Monday, October 8. It's all about the choices homeowners have to prepare their property to resist ignition during a wildfire. You can also check out our YouTube playlist for classic videos throughout the week.
On Wednesday, October 10, you can LISTEN to national experts on wildfires and insurance during our webinar. Register now to get important tips about financial preparedness and how to protect your home and belongings, and to ask your questions of the experts in real-time. A recording of the webinar will be available for a limited time following the live event. 
Expand your knowledge with a new and interactive  course, "Understanding the Wildfire Threat to Homes." LEARN how homes ignite from wildfire and how important it is to take risk reduction steps before fire ever starts. This learning module will debut on Friday, October 12. 
To keep aware and well-informed about wildfire all year long, be sure to bookmark www.firewise.org and visit often!

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