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17 Posts authored by: aronanderson Employee

Wildfire research and technology has advanced significantly over the last few years. Several new tools have been released to help communities and neighborhoods understand, explore, and reduce their wildfire risk; and several of these tools are now live on the interactive Firewise USA map.


Wildfire Risk to Communities –



Launched in April by the USDA Forest Service and the Rocky Mountain Research Station’s Missoula Fire Sciences Laboratory, Wildfire Risk to Communities is the first tool ever to map wildfire risk nationwide. It's designed for wildfire professionals and communities alike and will help you understand your community’s risk.  It also allows you to compare the risk of communities around you. In addition to its interactive maps and charts, it offers great solutions-oriented resources to start reducing your community's risk.


Two New Updated Layers on the Firewise USA Map -

USA Current Wildfires
On the Firewise map, the point and perimeter data set for active wildfires has been updated because of the shutdown of the Geospatial Multi-Agency Coordination's data feeds. The new data sources come directly from Integrated Reporting of Wildland-Fire Information (IRWIN) and the National Interagency Fire Center (NIFC). This new layer should perform better than the previous version and is updated every 15 minutes.

You can view this layer on the Firewise USA map the same way you viewed the old USA Current Wildfires layer.  Simply zoom the map to the extent of a State, or closer.


New Thermal Hotspot and Wildfire Detection from VIIRS
Previously, NASA's Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) could detect and monitor active fire and burned areas, but its successor, the Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS), is here and is now live on the Firewise map. VIIRS has several advantages over MODIS when it comes to wildfire detection. It has a higher degree of spatial resolution (375m vs 1km per pixel), greater sensitivity, and updates more frequently.

You can now view the VIIRS Thermal Hotspot and Fire Activity by zooming into the city or county level of an active wildfire on the Firewise USA map.

These new digital resources will help wildfire professionals and communities alike understand their risk and its context. Learn more from these and, of course, review Firewise's home ignition zone resources to put your stronger understanding into local action.

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.


Follow NFPA’s FireBreak blog . 

The Firewise USA™ map has been updated to include the latest layer of Firewise sites in good standing as well as a host of other new features.


You've always been able to search the map by your address or physical location. However, now you can search for any Firewise USA site by the site name as well. We have also added the US Forest Service’s ‘Wildfire Hazard Potential’ (WHP) layer to the map. This layer can help inform assessments of wildfire risk and depicts the relative potential for wildfire that would be difficult to suppress. To activate this layer, simply select the 'layers' button in the navigation menu and check the 'Wildfire Hazard Potential' box.


Lastly, thanks to our new Firewise Portal, the informational pop-up about each Firewise USA site has been updated to include how much each site has invested over their life in the program. Try searching for 'Sun City Texas Community Association' to see just how incredible their investment in lowering their wildfire risk has been over the last nine years!


Please contact Aron Anderson if you have any questions or concerns about the location of a specific Firewise USA site displayed in this interactive map.

In collaboration with the U.S.D.A. Forest Service, NFPA is proud to launch our new Firewise USA™ online application and renewal system we've dubbed the Firewise Portal. This new portal brings the Firewise USA program™ fully online with a new and intuitive system that allows a collaborative place for potential Firewise sites to document and track their progress while they work towards becoming a nationally recognized Firewise program participant.


Firewise Portal DashboardIn addition, we've designed the new portal to guide participating residential sites in documenting their annual renewal information  in a more intuitive and user friendly way. The new renewal process seamlessly guides users through the process of documenting the Firewise events and the mitigation activities that were completed throughout the year.


It also provides the program's Firewise State Liaisons a more active role in managing their state's program. The end result is a new system that is able to assist sites in continuing their ever important efforts to make where they live safer and more resilient to wildfires.


The Firewise USA program is co-sponsored by the USDA Forest Service, the US Department of the Interior, and the National Association of State Foresters.  This portal was equal funding partnership between the USDA Forest Service and NFPA.

Join NFPA, America’s PrepareAthon, the U.S. Fire Administration, the U.S. Forest Service and the Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety in a Wildfire Community Preparedness Day Twitter Chat tomorrow, Tuesday, April 7 at 2 PM EDT.


Are You Prepared for Wildfire in 2015? from IBHS on Vimeo.


The hour-long chat will use the hashtag #WildfirePrepDay and will focus on projects that can be coordinated for Wildfire Community Preparedness Day, Saturday, May 2 and America's PrepareAthon, Thursday, April 30. The conversation will provide information on mitigation, communication and evacuation.

This is a great opportunity to hear about projects, activities and events and get ideas that will help you develop a plan to do something great! Participating in both the PrepareAthon and Prep Day will get you moving towards making your community a safer place to live.


We're looking forward to having you participate in the conversation!

As Fire Prevention Week continues, so do our FAC case studies.  But first, I'd like to quickly share this year's Fire Prevention Week theme:

Working Smoke Alarms Save Lives:  Test Yours Every Month!

We all know smoke alarms save lives.  96% of US households have at least one smoke alarm, but they have become so common place that many people forget they are even there.  One-quarter of the nearly 3,000 people who died in a home fire last year had a smoke alarm but it did not sound or it was nonfunctional.  With that in mind, this year's theme is a valuable reminder that only working smoke alarms can save your life.

Today's case study highlights the hard work the Four Forest Restoration Initiative and other stakeholders have done to create sustainable ecosystems by restoring forests to their natural and healthy state.  In the process, they have also managed to create a sustainable wood products industry and increase jobs throughout the region.  Check out the Guide to Fire Adapted Communities for more case studies on communities taking action to reduce their wildfire risk.

Creating Forest Restoration
Photo credit: Four Forest Restoration Initiative

Case Study: Accomplishing Creative Forest Restoration

Four national forests in Arizona—Kaibab, Coconino, Apache-Sitgreaves, and Tonto—are actively engaged in the collaborative, landscape scale Four Forest Restoration Initiative. Together with a diverse group of stakeholders, the four forests are working to restore ponderosa pine forests, providing for fuels reduction, forest health, and biodiversity, while creating sustainable wood products industries and jobs in the region. Through innovative use of GPS technology, managers are carrying out 40 different prescriptions for forest thinning that are specifically tailored to ecosystems and wildlife habitats in each area as demonstrated by the before and after photographs.

Visit the Forest Service website to find out more about the Four Forest Restoration Initiative.

The highly praised report Lessons from Waldo Canyon and its companion video, Creating Fire Adapted Communities: A Case Study from Colorado Springs and the Waldo Canyon Fire is now available on DVD!  

The report and video are based on interviews, field visits and tours of the City’s most affected neighborhoods conducted by the FAC Coalition’s assessment team during a three day visit to the area in July 2012.  These resources share the post-fire field investigation, and stress the importance of communities becoming fire adapted.

Visit's resource page to request your free copy or watch the video below:


The 2013 wildfire season has quickly become one to remember, as several large wildfires burn across the west. In light of the ongoing threat, the Klamath National Forest and CAL FIRE have brought together a special team to conduct a two-week campaign in Northern California, reminding residents to act now to protect their homes.

The special team, which includes public affairs officials and education and fire prevention experts, is visiting area communities to make sure local residents have the latest information on defensible space, a proven method to help save a home when wildfire threatens a community. The Defensible Space Team has been working closely with community leaders, area residents and local fire personnel for more than a week. They’ll continue to visit with local communities on the Klamath National Forest now through Labor Day.

A well-maintained landscape of fire resistant plantings, properly pruned trees and shrubs and a well-watered lawn are all essential elements of defensible space. Trees should be limbed 6-8 feet from the ground. Underbrush and tree limbs should be cleared from around homes. Combustible materials should be moved away from propane tanks.

There are other things homeowners can do as well. “Defensible space is more than just maintaining the lawn and wooded areas around the house,” said Klamath National Forest Supervisor, Patty Grantham. “It can be as simple as moving the wood pile from next to the house to the other side of the yard. Cleaning the gutters or preventing debris from building up under porches can make a huge difference in a home’s survivability.”

Area residents living on or near the Klamath National Forest can request more information about this Defensible Space Campaign or a visit from the Defensible Space Team by contacting Ken Sandusky at 530-841-4485. For more information of Defensible Space please visit

Infographic 619
Fire is a natural part of our environment. As we choose to live in areas where wildfires occur, we must adapt the way we design, build and live within these areas to prepare our communities for wildfire. A fire adapted community understands its risks and takes actions that minimize harm to residents, homes, businesses, parks, and other community assets. This Infographic is an excellent visual tool to learn what it takes to make your community fire adapted. Know your role, know your region, protect what matters, and find out more with this Fire Adapted Communities® Infographic.

Download the Infographic.

Request a printed version of the Infographic (10 per order).

Authored by: Jennifer Hinderman, FAC Amabassador

Knowing and understanding your role in a community that deals with
wildland fire issues is one of the most important components of building a
wildfire resilient community.  Each stakeholder
has a valid and significant role to play; whether it’s a firefighter, homeowner,
land manager, government official, or others, they are all an important part of
the complete picture. 

No matter whether you own 1 acre or 500 acres, as a private forest
landowner you have a considerable role to play in the process of community
resiliency to wildfire.  Today 57% of our
forestlands in the U.S. are privately owned.*   This
means that you have the potential to make a significant impact on wildland fire
prevention and protection on both small and large scales.

The role of private forest landowners is challenging and loaded with
responsibility.   Management decisions
can have significant lasting effects; positive or negative depending on the
decisions that are made.   When it comes
to wildland fire, the healthier the forest, the less likely it is to burn
catastrophically.  Many forest ecosystems
have evolved with fire as a contributor to biodiversity and habitat vigor.  Having a fire burn through your forest is not
automatically a negative thing.  It
becomes negative when it becomes catastrophic, and it becomes catastrophic when
there are lives and property affected. 

How do you reduce the potential for catastrophic wildfire in your

(These are broad recommendations. 
Specific treatments should be developed for each site based on the
particular attributes).

    • Manage for the survival of healthy trees and
      remove the unhealthy ones.

        1. Trees that are in an overcrowded stand will not
          get enough light and water and are stressed. 
          Stressed trees are more susceptible to insect infestations and

    • Thin out stressed and unhealthy trees.

    • Remove invasive species that out-compete native vegetation.

    • Remove
      ladder fuels – create a vertical separation between taller trees and lower
      growing vegetation so that a ground fire cannot climb into the canopy.

        1. Prune trees up leaving at least 2/3 of the live

        2. Thin out dense underbrush

        3. Remove slash

    • Consider whether prescribed burning is an
      appropriate option.

        1. Under the right circumstances and in the
          appropriate locations prescribed burning can reduce the costs of vegetation
          control, improve wildlife habitat, and improve native plant communities.


!|border=0|src=|alt=PFLA_treeheart|title=PFLA_treeheart|class=asset asset-image at-xid-6a00d8351b9f3453ef01901ec73563970b!
Photo Credit: Private Forest Landowners Association


What are the benefits of taking on such responsibility?  The benefits of espousing this role are both
personal and extensive:

    1. Protection of your family and property

        1. The healthier the forest, the less likely it is
          to carry fire that will cause destruction

    2. Protection of your neighbors

    3. Protection of our firefighter heroes

    4. Protection of your investment

    5. Protection and improvement of the watershed

        1. Soil health

        2. Water quality

        3. Wildlife habitat

        4. Fish habitat

        5. Biodiversity of species

        6. Air quality (carbon sequestration)

You have the power to help protect people and property while at the
same time improving the health of our watersheds.  As a private forest landowner you play an
integral role in the wildfire resilience of the community and ecosystem.  Acting on this responsibility is crucial as climate
change is causing conditions that result in more frequent and intense wildland
fires.  Know your role; love your forest;
protect your community.


Authored by: David R. Godwin, FAC Amabassador


&#0160;<em>Where to find timely wildland fire information


Part of

being a member of a Fire Adapted Community means staying connected and staying

informed.&#0160; Do you know where to find up

to date wildland fire incident information from reliable and trusted sources?&#0160; Do you know how to monitor wildfire activity

in your state?


For many people access to

information has never been easier.&#0160;&#0160;

Twenty-four hours a day many of us have the ability to tune into

televisions, radios, newspapers, magazines and the internet to find a wealth of

news and information.&#0160; This access brings

problems of filtering and screening: how do we find the best sources of

information when we need it?

For current or emerging wildfire incidents,
nearly all wildland fire management agencies have public information officers
or teams dedicated to sharing and disseminating event information.  These teams often manage multiple information
streams depending on their expertise, the needs of the audience, and the scale
of the event.  *For local wildland fire events, information can often be found on local
broadcast and print media websites.*  In
many cases, local newspaper and television station websites often contain
timely updates on events prior to printing or the evening newscast. 

!|src=|alt=BlogPostPhoto2|title=BlogPostPhoto2|class=asset asset-image at-xid-6a00d8351b9f3453ef01901ea19365970b!

Firefighters work to manage a small wildfire in the Osceola National Forest in north Florida. Information from small local wildfires can often be found on print and broadcast media websites. For information about larger wildfires that garner national and regional attention, check out the InciWeb website. Photo Credit: David R. Godwin



some wildland fire agencies, the *Twitter* social media network has become an

emerging method of providing rapid updates on fire events.*&#0160;

In Florida, the Florida Forest Service (FFS) maintains active Twitter accounts for many of its fifteen multi-county

districts.&#0160; Coordinated by local FFS

Wildfire Mitigation Specialists, these accounts have been used to provide up to

the minute public information on wildfire detections, fire spread and movement,

wildfire location maps, and suppression activities.



events large enough to garner regional and national attention can be tracked

using the federal interagency *InciWeb* website.*&#0160;

InciWeb includes frequently updated information for wildland fire

incidents across the country.&#0160; InciWeb

updates vary in frequency depending on the incident and agency submitting the

information, but they typically include descriptions of the event location, evacuation

zones, fire behavior, fuel and weather conditions, management resources, maps,

photos, and links to related external websites.&#0160;

Abbreviated InciWeb updates can also be found on the Twitter account @InciWeb . </p>


you monitor the wildfire situation in your area this summer, be sure to also

check out the NFPA Fire Break

and the Fire Adapted Communities blogs for news and tips on preparing your home

and community for wildand fire events.&#0160;

Finally, while you’re on Twitter, connect with the NFPA Firewise program

on the account @Firewise .

Authored by: David R. Godwin, FAC Amabassador

 Access to local fire science is now easier than ever!

With most professionals, including natural resource managers and wildland fire specialists, time is a very limited commodity.  After meetings, paperwork, fieldwork and all of those unscheduled pop-up projects, often little time or energy remains for keeping up with the latest fire science research.  In spite of this common limitation, resource managers and wildland fire specialists at many levels are often expected to base their management decisions on the latest published scientific evidence.

An experimental prescribed fire in a mechanically treated pine flatwoods forest in the Osceola National Forest in north Florida.  This research site was part of a fuel treatment efficacy workshop and field tour hosted by the Southern Fire Exchange consortium in 2011.  

Photo Credit: David R. Godwin

In 2010, after recognizing the need for improved adoption of recent fire science research, the federally funded U.S. Joint Fire Science Program began the nationwide Knowledge Exchange Consortia project.  The Knowledge Exchange Consortia is comprised of fourteen unique regional consortiums that represent nearly all of the major wildland fire fuel types and ecosystems found across the U.S.  In addition to improving access to and adoption of the latest in wildland fire science, each consortium is also tasked with increasing communication and collaboration between the scientific research community and natural resource professionals and wildland fire managers.  While the individual consortiums vary in organizational structure, staffing, and product development, all are mandated to be unbiased brokers of wildland fire science

For resource managers and wildland fire specialists, the Joint Fire Science Knowledge Exchange Consortia program is designed to make access to the latest regionally applicable wildland fire science easier and faster.  Consortiums have hosted free webinars by federal and university researchers, organized field tours and workshops of experimental forests and demonstration sites, developed short informational videos showcasing research syntheses, and published factsheets that translate lengthy scientific journal articles into useful and relevant summaries.  Because the individual consortiums are comprised of local scientists, experts, and managers, each program is designed to provide the latest regionallyapplicable wildland fire science that addresses the specific needs and questions of the local resource managers and wildland fire specialists.

To help make your community more fire adapted, improve your management decisions, and find timesaving access to the latest fire science for your region, connect with your local Joint Fire Science Knowledge Exchange consortium.

Authored by: Faith Berry, Fire Adapted Communities Ambassador

In 2008 the Camp Fire, part of the Lightning Complex, originated in Plumas County and traveled into Butte County scorching 60,000 acres.  It also destroyed over 200 homes and took a life.  It affected the Concow side of the Yankee Hill Concow Firewise Community that is also a Firesafe Council.  Before the fire occurred, residents in Concow had fortunately taken a multi-pronged fire adapted approach to reducing their risk by participating in the Firewise Community program, writing and implementing a a Community Wildfire Protection Plan, performing mitigation activities such as limbing up trees and properly spacing them, hardening homes, implementing Ready, Set, Go! principles, and identifying water sources with their local fire departments.

On the night of July 7th 2008, the fire decimated 350 acres of an unmanaged treed lot, threatening the homeowner across the street as the fire crowned in the trees. Fire burned through so hot that mature conifers perished, resulting in a clear cut brush field.


This picture is courtesy of the Yankee Hill Firewise Community.  See the fire moving through the wooded lot across the street towards the home!


Because the homeowner has been  a good steward of her property through Firewise landscaping techniques, (limbing and spacing trees, eliminating ladder fuels),  most of her mature trees survived even though there are still fire scars visible on the bark.  The fire went from a crown fire from the decimated neighboring property across the street and dropped to the ground on the homeowner’s Firewise property, lowering the intensity of the fire.  Her home also has well watered landscape and the building materials are fire resistive.  In addition, she had an approved water source that was identified. This combination helped her home's chance of survival, and illustrates the value of preparing your home through Firewise principles before a wildfire event. 


This picture was shared by the Yankee Hill Firewise Community.  This is the same Property after the fire.  You can see the tree with the address sign, and you can see the bark scorched about 3 feet up.  Note the decimated unmanaged property across the street. Note the picture of the well watered area around the same home today below.

I recently attended a workshop in this community where residents discussed how they could capitalize on their Firewise Community efforts and increase their resilience even more in the event of another wildfire event.  They looked at the steps listed on the Fire Adapted Communities website, and in the new Fire Adapted Community brochure to see what additional ways they could increase their resilience.


Is your community prepared in the event of a wildfire? Take action today and learn how you can be better prepared, have better plans and work collaboratively with agency partners start by visiting the Fire Adapted Community Website, where you can also learn about the Firewise Communities and Ready Set Go! programs.  "By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail." — Benjamin Franklin.  Protect your home and the lives of those you love. 


FAC Ambassador and photo credit:&#0160;Jennifer Hinderman

Fire Adapted Communities is all-encompassing approach to dealing with a world-wide problem that requires a shift in the way we live in and with our environment.  Guidance and resources are provided for use at the local level to help communities learn to accept fire as part of the natural environment.  Adaptation of our communities living in the wildland urban interface is key as the size and severity of wildland fires continues to increase. 


!|border=0|src=|alt=BurnedForestBlog1Photo|style=margin: 0px 0px 5px 5px;|title=BurnedForestBlog1Photo|class=asset asset-image at-xid-6a00d8351b9f3453ef0191040b420d970c!
One of the main concepts behind the fire adapted approach is that a community should understand its fire risk and take action to minimize harm to residents, homes, businesses, parks, utilities, and other community assets.  Collaboration between these entities allows for a comprehensive approach to developing a safer environment.  

Many populations around the nation that are already taking a fire adapted community approach without even realizing it.  One such community is Skagit County in northwest Washington State.   As far as the frequency of intense, large acreage wildfires compared to the central and eastern part of the state, Skagit County ranks pretty low on the list; however, Skagit County has good reason to be aware of the potential for wildfire to occur and be destructive.  Eighty percent of the county is forested; it’s wet in the winter and spring which allows for growth of dense underbrush that in turn dries out rapidly toward the end of summer and early fall; the population continues to expand into the wildland areas; and it has the 6thhighest wildland-urban interface growth potential of all counties in Washington*.

Over the last eight years Skagit County has been active in creating a more resilient community and expanding the collaboration of those efforts.   Successful partnerships were formed early on that included:

    • Washington State Department of Natural Resources

    • Skagit County Fire Marshal’s Office

    • Skagit Conservation District

    • Skagit County Planning Department

    • Skagit County Department of Emergency Management

    • Skagit County Commissioners

    • Local fire districts

    • U.S. Forest Service

    • Homeowners

Steady stakeholders efforts of have included:

    1. Development of a county-wide CWPP that was integrated into the county’s Natural Hazard Mitigation Plan

    2. Outreach and education about forest health and preventing and preparing for wildfire

    3. Use of the Firewise Communities/USA® and Ready, Set, Go! programs

    4. Collaboration on fuels reduction projects

    5. Shared funding resources

    6. Continued promotion of successful outcomes

Stakeholders have also recently engaged and gained support from local land conservancy agencies and utility companies, as well as local realtors, and insurance companies.  Skagit County currently has seven active Firewise Communities®, and there are many others that are working hard to mitigate their wildfire risk.  Skagit County continues to work on engaging other partners and improving the resilience of their community. 

The success of Skagit County’s efforts to become better prepared has been recognized around the state and NW region of the U.S.  Their model is now being implemented around Washington and the response has been very positive.  One way this is evidenced is in the number of communities involved in the Firewise Communities/USA® program; Washington State has over 100 Firewise Communities, the second highest-ranking state in the nation.

As we can see by looking at Skagit County, effective changes in the way we address global issues begin at the grassroots level.  Those most directly affected by the threat and destruction of wildland fire – whether it be the firefighter battling it, the incident commander managing a wildfire event, the landowner whose house is in the path of a fire, a business owner suffering monetary losses from lack of customers during a wildfire, or a local community leader responding to a state of emergency – have the drive and the power to implement solutions for dealing with wildland fire issues.

Although Skagit County has developed a relatively successful grassroots model, let’s remember that becoming more fire adapted community is an ongoing process.  This means being flexible and adaptable to all kinds of environmental and economic changes when they occur.  A community that collaborates, knows how to access the right resources, and has implemented useful tools will have more success at adapting to our changing wildfire environment. 

*Adapted from:&#0160;

As wildfires burn across the western United States, the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) and Ad Council launch new public service ads (PSAs) targeting homeowners and community members in fire-prone areas. The new PSAs represent the continuation of the Fire Adapted Communities initiative which raises awareness about the threat of wildfire and helps individuals and communities mitigate wildfire damage. 

A single ember that escapes from a wildfire can travel over a mile. New PSAs created pro bono by Draftfcb highlight the risk these embers pose to homes, structures and communities and remind audiences that you can’t control where an ember will land, but you can control what happens when it does. Community members are encouraged to take simple, proactive steps to protect their families and neighbors by preparing in advance and addressing the wildfire hazards around their homes and in their communities

Watch the PSAs below and read the full press release.








Authored by: Hank Blackwell, Fire Adapted Community Ambassador

The City of Austin and Travis County, Texas have jointly funded the creation of a  Austin CWPP
(CWPP). The quote from the project description clearly supports the importance of the concepts of the Fire Adapted Communities program:   “Travis County and the City of Austin are partnering to produce a county-wide Community Wildfire Protection Plan.  This Plan will provide the framework for the County and City’s efforts to become a Fire-Adapted Community.”

One of the primary goals for the CWPP is to establish a framework for both the incorporated and non-incorporated areas to facilitate connections between existing Firewise Communities as well as those in development; provide a template with the greater CWPP that can be utilized by smaller municipalities and subdivisions as a foundation for more specific, tailored plans; offer motivation and understanding of the meaning and understanding of the value of the Fire Adapted Communities Program.

This CWPP is hoped to become a model for the State of Texas as well as other states in terms of its’ importance as a planning and preparedness tool, a prevention and mitigation program and a public education and information platform.

The Austin/Travis County Joint Wildfire Task Force, a multi-agency, multi-disciplinary group will serve as the program overseer and guide. The depth and breadth of their influence and knowledge, coupled with their unique vision and creativity will ensure the development of a meaningful tool, as well as a program that will establish a foundation for a larger area Fire Adapted Community and concurrent mind-set among constituents.

Congratulations, Austin City/Travis County for your vision!

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