Skip navigation
All Places > Fire Break > Blog > 2020 > September
2020

Firewise USA site members and partners with sign in front of community buildingWhen looking at wildfire preparedness, it is important to remember that everyone has a role to play, including residents.  More and more people are living where wildfires are a real risk, but that risk doesn't have to go unchecked.  There are proactive steps that individuals and neighbors can take to help protect their homes and communities and improve their safety when faced with a wildfire.

 

Join us Wednesday, October 7th at 4 p.m. EDT as NFPA’s wildfire safety team discusses the Firewise USA program and resources to help you and your neighbors on your wildfire preparedness journey.  We’ll walk step by step through the process of organizing a Firewise USA site, using our online portal and web resources to help you learn about wildfire and take action to make homes more ignition-resistant.

 

If you’re already part of one of the more than 1,700 Firewise USA sites around the nation, we’ll show you how to update your information for 2020 and point out where to find new and helpful resources to educate and motivate your neighbors. Remember, annual renewal applications are due by November 20, 2020.

 

Register today for Becoming Wildfire Ready with Firewise USA: Tips, Tools and Techniques and share the event with your friends and neighbors.  Just in case you aren't able to join us live, the event will be recorded and available on our website at a later date.

 

Sign up for NFPA Network to stay up to date with the latest news and information on key wildfire issues. You can also follow me on twitter @meganfitz34 more wildfire-related topics.

  

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.

graphic showing a home, patio, and immediate 0-5 feet around it, also know as the immediate zone.

Here at NFPA we spend a lot of time sharing resources to help residents who are trying to reduce their risk from wildfire. We frequently speak of the home ignition zone and what actions to take, sometimes forgetting that people might be new to the entire concept. 

With that in mind I'd like to take a moment to review the what home ignition zone is and its first component - the home and the immediate area.

The Home Ignition Zone is a concept coined by retired USFS researcher Dr. Jack Cohen.  The basic idea is that the condition of the home (what it is made of and its state of repair) and the vegetation surrounding it, out to 100 feet, have the biggest influence on whether or not a home will ignite from a wildfire. Original research by Dr. Cohen and additional research from the Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety (IBHS) shows that the first 0 to 5 feet around the structure, known as the immediate zone or noncombustible zone, has the greatest impact on your risk and should be your starting point.

This area is critical due to the primary source of how homes ignite - embers and small surface flames.  You want to keep this zone free of  combustible materials, which can be a landing bed for embers or can help carry surface fires up to the house.

Some items to consider in the immediate zone:    wooden steps to a home covered in dried leaves and pine needles, combustible fuels right next to wooden lattice

  •  Is there dead vegetation, dried leaves, pine needles, and ground debris near foundations?
  • Has hardscaping been used around perimeters to keep them free of litter/debris? Are there concrete, stone, or gravel walkways?
  • Have wood mulch products been replaced with non-combustible alternatives, such as crushed stone/gravel options?
  • Are there trees/shrubs next to the home? Are there branches overhanging the roof or within 10 feet of chimneys?

Check out these resources to learn more about the area and what actions to take to reduce your risk in this zone:

  • Preparing Homes for Wildfire - get recommendations and download tip sheets (English and Spanish) to share with your family, friends, and neighbors.
  • Immediate (noncombustible zone) wildfire research fact sheet - download this fact sheet and share far and wide with those in wildfire prone areas.
  • Understanding the Wildfire Threat to Homes -This online learning module is an overview of fire history, fire basics, and how homes burn. The module can be completed in approximately 30 minutes and is available in English and Spanish.

By spending a little time in this area you can greatly improve the chances of your home withstanding a wildfire and gain a greater peace of mind.

 

Sign up for NFPA Network to stay up to date with the latest news and information on key wildfire issues. You can also follow me on twitter @meganfitz34 more wildfire-related topics.

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.

For more than a decade, federal and state agencies, local governments, and nonprofit advocates of wildfire safety have been working to get their arms around the magnitude and scope of wildfire risk in the U.S. The National Cohesive Wildland Fire Management Strategy includes protecting homes and communities as one of its three main objectives. Yet prior decades of research had largely ignored aspects of community risk in favor of a focus on managing vegetation and landscapes rather than people and property. 

 

This year, however, the public can benefit from the results of recent work to combine what we know about the science of home ignition with the known information about wildfire spread and community vulnerability. I talk about why I think the new Wildfire Risk to Communities platform is so incredibly valuable in the current issue of NFPA Journal. In addition to my thorough admiration for the accomplishment of agencies and their partners in bringing this resource to the public within two years of a Congressional directive, I found the risk information on the platform to be presented in an attractive, easy-to-use, and compelling manner. It is a giant step forward in helping community leaders justify and advocate for improved wildfire planning and safety. 

 

-Follow me on Twitter @Michele_NFPA for more information about wildfire safety resources!

In a year that has been described as unprecedented, September has lived up to that reality. In the last several days Washington, Oregon, and California have dealt with extreme weather conditions resulting in devastating wildfires.  Many of our partners and Firewise USA participants are in a state of heightened alert, watching to see what the current fires will do and monitoring for new ones.

 In light of that, and the fact that September is National Preparedness Month, we want to encourage folks to take a few minutes to make sure you and your family are ready. If there are wildfires in your area:

  • Stay aware of the latest news and updates from your local media, fire department, and state agency responsible for wildfire
  • Get your family, home and pets prepared to evacuate.
  • Place your emergency supply kit and other valuables in your vehicle.
  • Move patio or deck furniture, cushions, door mats and potted plants in wooden containers either indoors or as far away from the home, shed and garage as possible.
  • Close and protect your home’s openings, including attic and basement doors and vents, windows, garage doors and pet doors to prevent embers from penetrating your home.
  • Leave as early as possible, before you’re told to evacuate. Do not linger once evacuation orders have been given. Promptly leaving your home and neighborhood clears roads for firefighters to get equipment in place to fight the fire, and helps ensure residents’ safety.

This week has been heartbreaking to watch. The staff in NFPA's wildfire division would like to acknowledge that there are Firewise USA sites impacted and those residents remain close to the heart of the program as these fires continue to burn. 

 

 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.

Filter Blog

By date: By tag: