Research related to how homes ignite and post-wildfire assessments tell us that the majority of home ignitions during a wildfire are from embers and small surface fires. Since 2002, the Firewise USA® program has encouraged residents across the county to take action at the home and surrounding area to reduce the chances of their home igniting. Residents have invested millions of dollars in volunteer hours and cash investment in this work and have made significant accomplishments.
Over the last decade, while progress has been made, extreme fire conditions have shown us that we all need to do more. In 2019, Firewise USA® is challenging seven active sites across the country to just that. Sites of Excellence is a 24-month pilot program designed to increase resident participation in active wildfire risk reduction through a focused approach. Based on the science we have and the fires we have experienced, we must have more residents engaged and doing more of the right work in the right places. We must increase the ignition resistance of our homes and our communities if we want to change the results of these wildland urban disasters.
Our challenge to these participants is:
- To have 100% participation of homes within the designated pilot boundary (sites were able to self-identify up to 100 co-located homes in each pilot site).
- To complete identified mitigation tasks within 30 feet of every home, based on recommendations from individual assessments.
We recognize that these are lofty goals, however, in order to effectively move needle on wildfire preparedness and increase the ignition resistance of individual homes and communities, this is the type of effort that needs to occur. Over the next several months we will feature each site, telling their story of what wildfire preparedness means to them, why they volunteered for the pilot, what they hope to accomplish. We look forward to sharing in their journey and hope you do to.
7-R Ranch, TX
Coal Bank Ridge , VA
Crystal Lake Club, WI
Flowery Trail, WA
Forest Highlands, AZ
Red Rock Ranch, CO
Summit Park, UT
Photo Credit: Arizona Department of Forestry and Fire Management
Want to learn more about the Sites of Excellence, Firewise USA® , and other wildfire preparedness efforts? Follow me on Twitter @meganfitz34