As we get deeper in to the summer, it's time to start thinking about the annual commitment that participating Firewise USA sites make. In light of COVID-19, many have asked if Firewise USA(r) be rolling back any of its renewal requirements and specifically, the role of an educational outreach event? The short answer is no. This is because the alternatives to in-person large events are not only achievable, but we've learned of great solutions from communities who have already done them this summer.
Each year, communities agree to host some sort of educational outreach event and invest in on the ground actions that reduce the chance of ignition from a wildfire within a community. These communities share their stories on all that they achieved. These are always amazing and inspiring, submitted via the renewal application on the online management portal. This year, renewal applications are due by November 20th.
It is human nature to find something that works, and then stick with it. Many of our participants are used to having an annual meeting, maybe some food, do a presentation and handout some flyers. In this time of social distancing, that can be difficult and may go against local safety regulations.
We are encouraging sites to get creative, try new and different ways of engaging your neighbors in the importance of everyone doing their part to protect the community.
- Does your community have a website or newsletter? Share updates on wildfire risk reduction efforts. Highlight a home modification or HIZ work that someone has done, share how others can do the same. Post educational materials to help guide individual efforts (we have an excellent Research fact sheet series.)
- Start a social media campaign to target people in your community and beyond your border with simple weekend projects people can do. We have a variety of social media cards that can help, you can also follow us @firewise on Facebook and Twitter. Our friends at IBHS have some great resources as well to help get weekend projects going.
- Order NFPA printed materials and do a mail campaign or door drop off campaign to share the resources, https://catalog.nfpa.org/Reducing-Wildfire-Risks-in-the-Home-Ignition-Zones-Poster-P18023.aspx or https://catalog.nfpa.org/How-to-Prepare-Your-Home-for-Wildfires-Brochure-P21174.aspx.
- Work with your local Firewise liaison to find helpful online resources or PDFs of brochures that can be emailed to your residents
- Share wildfire related webinars with your community. You could even look at ways to set up a virtual watch party and connect with your neighbors afterwards to discuss. NFPA hosted a two-part webinar series earlier this year, addressing insurance needs and home improvements that make a difference.
- One idea that I heard from a resident leader of smaller community was using space in the post office to share information. It sounds like they have a community board and he is able to share educational materials and contact information for follow up. It's one of the few places open and everyone goes there to collect their mail.
This list is not exhaustive, but they all meet the intent and renewal requirement of educational outreach in Firewise, so don't be limited by what you've done in the past.
Is your community ready to take the next step on its wildfire journey? Visit Firewise.org to learn how you can get organized and become a Firewise USA site.
As we navigate the evolving situation with COVID-19, NFPA remains committed to supporting you with the resources you need to minimize risk and help prevent loss, injuries, and death from fire, electrical, and other hazards. For information on NFPA’s response to the coronavirus, please visit our webpage.