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436 Posts authored by: faithberry Employee

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.


As part of National Preparedness Month on September 20 (primary date) or October 3 (secondary date), FEMA will be testing the National Emergency Warning System. This warning system test will include two parts, the Emergency Alert System (EAS), which broadcasts over radio and television and the Wireless Emergency Alert System (WEA) which are emergency messages sent by authorized government alerting authorities through your mobile carrier.


Since youth will also be receiving these messages, it is important that parents and guardians have conversations with them before September 20th to explain that this is a test and not a real emergency. Parents and guardians might want to also connect with them about developing plans for emergency situations if they are separated from their children say when they are at school or other function during an emergency. This picture of two teens and their aunt were working on a wildfire Prep Day project in Maine. They were raking and posed together with their aunt as they were taking a break


Talking to young people before something happens helps them better prepare. One preparedness activity is creating a “Go Bag” (a small evacuation bag or backpack with essentials) in case you have to evacuate during a wildfire or other natural disaster, so they won’t be as anxious and will feel more empowered about what they want to take with them in case they have to evacuate. Check out NFPA’s TakeAction ™ site for more information about how you can create your own “Go Bag”


These notices from WEA will look like text messages and will share information about the type and time of the alert and which agency is issuing the alert. There will be three types of alerts, Amber alerts, presidential messages, and extreme weather or threatening emergencies. According to the FEMA webpage, WEA messages will include a special tone and vibration, both repeated twice. For more information about this emergency warning test check out the FEMA webpage. Send questions you may have about this test to;



Photo credits: Top - FEMA; Side - Faith Berry NFPA employee.

Photo by Faith Berry of burned landscape behind Durango, Colorado area home

This is National Preparedness Month and we are all reminded to take steps to be prepared for an emergency. But with all the hype do preparedness efforts really make a difference, you may be asking yourself.

Working with communities to implement project work with Wildfire Community Preparedness Day this last year, I connected with a Firewise USA® site leader Paulette Church in Durango, Colorado who was actively helping her community be better prepared for their greatest risk of loss from wildfire. Their community had been impacted by a wildfire in 2002, and it spurred them to be better prepared in case it happened again. That fire in 2002 consumed over 70,000 acres and 56 homes in the region.

Their community worked on a number of projects including a fuels reduction Prep Day project this year, and as Paulette shared with me they went from having a 10% initial involvement by residents in the community to almost 90%. Their community was again impacted by a wildfire this year but this time their efforts really made a difference. I went with a crew to film their story and was awestruck by how close the fire came to homes throughout their community. Paulette shared that they had made the work activities to increase their preparedness, fun to garner more engagement and support from the neighbors to participate in fuels reduction activities and it worked! They did not lose one home to the fire this time around due to their efforts which made it easier and safer for firefighters to do their jobs!

Even the Inciweb (incident report) mentioned; “In Division A, south of the fire, line construction continues, and firefighters have connected a line from 550 northwest into the rock face above Hermosa. Last night, the fire pushed into areas with structures. Crews engaged in active firefighting. No structures were damaged or lost, and no firefighters were injured. The work that the community has done to make this area “Firewise” contributed a great deal to firefighters’ ability to defend these homes. The Falls Creek and Lower Hermosa areas are set with hoses, pumps and sprinklers, and are prepared for the possibility of further active firefighting.”

The lesson learned from this incredible story of a community’s survival is that good preparedness efforts completed with neighbors working together with local agency partners can make a difference. What will your story be? Learn more about how you can better prepare your home and neighborhood for wildfire, visit Firewise USA® today!

Perhaps you live in a large metropolitan area and are thinking, “I don’t have to worry about wildfire risk.”  Many people think incorrectly that because they live in a big city away from forests and parks that there is no need for them to maintain their home and property for a wildfire threat.

So how can homes located within city limits be impacted by a local wildfire? The most common way is by embers lofted by burning materials in a wildfire. One example of this occurred in Wenatchee, Washington where businesses located 1.2 miles away from the fire burned.


Another way wildfires can impact city dwellers is by fires ignited in brush along highways. Poorly maintained vehicles can catch brush on fire and even pulling over on dry grass next to the highway can cause a fire to burn from overheated parts. This year’s Carr Fire for example was caused by a flat tire.


Another way homes can burn in big cities during a wildfire is from canyons or common park areas located inside the city burning. In 2014, Carlsbad - a Southern California community located on the ocean - was impacted by a devastating canyon fire that destroyed at least 18 condominiums and 4 single family homes.


No matter where we live, whether we live in rural enclaves or big cities, we can be impacted by wildfires.  Wildfires are one event that can be planned for.  We all can do a lot to reduce our risk of loss by taking steps today to make our homes and neighborhoods safer.  Learn more about simple and inexpensive actions you can take by visiting the Firewise USA® Program website

Photo Credit: Los Angeles City Fire Department

Photo by Faith Berry


Land use planning can reduce the risk of loss due to wildfire.  Community Planning Assistance for Wildfire (CPAW) program is a partnership between Headwaters Economics and Wildfire Planning International and provides according to their webpage, “grant funded professional guidance about integrating wildfire mitigation into the development planning processes of communities.”  It is funded by the US Forest Service, the LOR Foundation and other private foundations.


Communities now have the opportunity to apply for no cost assistance to look at integrating wildfire safety measures into current and future development and learning how to leverage local assets and resources.  According to the webpage all recommendations they share are voluntarily adopted.


CPAW is accepting applications now through October 5 for planning assistance.  To apply for this opportunity to receive no cost wildfire risk reduction assistance, check out the CPAW website.

Photo by Faith Berry


Many of us are making last minute vacation plans, before the kids go back to college or school, and cooler weather sets in.  To make good memories there are some safety tips to keep in mind.


Before heading down the road, make sure that you left things in order at home, in case a wildfire occurs while you are away. Some tips to follow before you leave:

  1.       Make sure that all doors and windows are shut. If there is a wildfire embers will find a way into your home.
  2.       Remove flammable items from your patio, such as chair cushions, coco mats, planters, trash cans, brooms etc. Either put them in a shed, inside the house or far away from your home.
  3.       Make sure pine needles and other debris is cleaned up, and follow Firewise USA ® tip sheets for maintaining landscaping around your home.


Before you leave make sure you check the National Interagency Fire Center Report, to make sure that your pre-planned vacation site is not being impacted by wildfire.  This is important especially if you are traveling in high wildfire prone regions.


Check out your recreational vehicles and make sure that they are well maintained.  Following some simple safety tips will make sure that you don’t spark a wildfire as you head down the road.  Some tips to keep in mind include:

  1.      Off road motorcycles or other off road vehicles should have properly maintained spark arrestors.
  2.       Never park a vehicle that has been running on dry grass. Hot parts from underneath your vehicle can spark a fire.
  3.       Tow equipment is should be properly maintained.  Dragging chains can cause sparks that can ignite wildfires.
  4.       Check for proper tire pressure, this can not only save you gas as you travel, but also prevent exposed wheel rims from under inflated tires igniting a wildfire.
  5.       Complete proper vehicle maintenance and carry a fire extinguisher that you know how to use.


When you arrive at your destination, be aware of local fire conditions and follow all campground rules.

  1.       Check first to see if you are allowed to have open fires. If campfires are allowed, make sure that you keep them in a designated fire rings.  Never build a fire too large, and be aware of overhanging limbs.
  2.       Don’t engage in recreational activities at your campsite that can ignite wildfire like fireworks.
  3.       Tiki torches may not be allowed in your campground, check with your local park ranger/manager, or better yet bring and use portable solar lights.
  4.       If you are using citronella candles in the evening to keep bugs away, make sure that you keep them on a non-flammable surface and put them out before going to bed.


By proactively taking simple steps before and during your vacation, you can make sure that your vacation if fun and leaves you and your family with lasting good memories.  Check out the Firewise USA® website for more information about wildfire safety.

Photo by Faith Berry

As wildfires rage across the globe, we ask ourselves what can be done to help cities, homes, people and animals be safer during these events?  The losses are heart wrenching. The pictures are horrifying.  Wildfires occur across the globe and can increase in intensity anywhere, in the right set of conditions; hot temperatures, dried out vegetation, and high winds.


But we also see many people, neighborhoods, and cities coming together to create safer communities; firefighters, elected officials, land managing agencies, and residents all working together to be a part of the solution.  Did you know that there is a lot that you can do long before a wildfire happens to protect yourself, your family your pets and your home?  People of all ages can come together and complete property maintenance chores that are simple and don’t cost a lot of money but can provide huge benefits.


So what can we do?


  1.       Help a senior neighbor or neighbor unable to do the work, with yard maintenance.  This helps protect your property from damage if their home ignites.  It will also make you feel good.
  2.       Host a neighborhood clean-up day!  Rent a large dumpster to dispose of those human treasures (plywood, furniture, yard ornaments etc.) around and next to everyone’s home and create safer, and more desirable neighborhoods to live in.  You will make new friends and perhaps increase property values.
  3.       Host a day to complete one project waiting for your attention.  Get the neighbors together for a morning of work, with everyone doing their own thing at their own home; cleaning out gutters, cleaning up under decks, removing dead vegetation from around the home or liming up trees next to the house.  Get together afterwards for a picnic and half day of fun to celebrate your success!
  4.       Have lots of dead wood in your yards from storms?  Organize your own “Dead Wood Gang”.  Neighbors working together to clean up wood from property to property.  Place branches butt ends facing the street in easy to manage piles, and chip them up as soon as possible.  Just don’t put those wood chips in your landscaping next to the house or leave those piles hanging around long.
  5.       Have someone that your community trusts and enjoys working with locally (from a local fire department or land managing agency etc.), help you “see” what maintenance projects you can do to your home and in the area surrounding your home. Make a list for each neighbor to complete at a later date, and do something nice for the agency person assisting you to show your appreciation.  You are also helping to build a great relationship with an agency partner.

Be a part of making your home, neighborhood, and city safer.  Dust off those gloves and put them to work.  If nobody leads the way, be the hero in your neighborhood and help organize your neighbors to take action. For more information about projects you can do to make your home safer check out the Firewise USA® web-page.

                                                                                                                       Chipping at Bustin's Island photo by Faith Berry

Photo by Faith Berry

According to Representative Dan Newhouse’s site,  the Interior, Environment, Financial Services, and General Government Appropriations Act was passed in the House of Representatives. This legislation provides yearly funding for the Department of the Interior, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the U.S. Forest Service, the Indian Health Service, and other related agencies.


Although the bill addresses other areas of conservation and agriculture, like grazing monitoring, and big horn sheep research it also provides increased funding for wildfire prevention. According to Newhouse’s report, “In total, the bill funds wildland firefighting and prevention programs at $3.9 billion, fully funding the 10-year average for wildland fire suppression costs for both the Department of the Interior and the Forest Service, and providing robust additional funding – $500 million– for Forest Service suppression operations. The legislation also includes $655 million for hazardous fuels management, which is $30 million above the fiscal year 2018 level.”


You can follow the progress of this appropriations bill as it must next be passed by the Senate and then signed by the President to become a law.


Photo shared by Andrew Castellani


A neighborhood from Forked River New Jersey shared with us how they helped other neighbors reduce their risk of loss due to wildfires.  This Firewise USA ® site used their Wildfire Community Preparedness Day funding to expand their influence and share their knowledge about wildfire safety with residents living in a new housing development located close to them, who were not familiar with wildfire safety.  A portion of their project work included outreach to new residents who had no knowledge about how to make their communities safer from wildfire.


According to Andrew Castellani, “We had a very successful event that spanned three days, May 4th, 5th and 6th. We had about 15 council participants that made contact with 110 residential homes and engaged them with information about Firewise USA ® and the Ready, Set, Go program. On Monday the 7th our public works department picked up roughly 17 dump trucks worth of cleared trees, slag, pine brush, and various other combustible brush.”


This community is not only making a difference in their own neighborhood’s wildfire safety but are mentoring and assisting other neighbors to help them be able to do the same!


Photo of nighttime fire activity from the La Tuna Fre shared by LA City Fire


FEMA has created a new bulletin to provide state government officials and residents with information about grant funding available for pre and post disaster mitigation efforts.  However the recent bulletin also provided information about post wildfire recovery funds and how to determine community eligibility.


A wildfire that has burned through an area can not only be the cause of damage to resident’s homes but can also contribute to a secondary form of risk from loss due to landslides.  Land impacted by a wildfire can be a greater risk of a landslide after heavy rains due to a loss of vegetation.  A few projects identified as eligible for this funding include:

  •     Soil stabilization
  •     Flood diversion
  •     Reforestation

States, territories, and federally-recognized tribes with Fire Management Assistance declarations from October 01, 2016 until 11:59 pm local time September 30, 2018 are eligible to apply.  FEMA provides a quick and easy way for you to calculate whether a post fire project identified is cost effective and thereby eligible to apply for funding.  For example, the cost effectiveness can be determined by multiplying the number of acres you propose to mitigate by $5,250.  If the total cost of your project proposal is equal to or below that amount, your application will be considered.  For more information about this post fire recovery grant program check out the FEMA webpage.

On Saturday this week, the Aroostook band of Micmacs in Caribou, Maine hosted their Wildfire Community Preparedness Day, main event due to snow earlier in May this year.  Jon Cote the Emergency Management Director, wrote their successful application for funding, helped organize the event and encouraged all members of their local community to be a part of this important effort. Everyone in the community had a part to play, whether it was pre-planning, helping with the lunch, paperwork, or doing the clean-up work itself.  All shared that they were happy to have a role to play in this important community effort.


The youngest participant was 4 and the oldest in their 80’s.  They all worked hard together with agents from their local State Farm office, Job Corps, Red Cross office and rangers from the State of  Maine Forest Service.  They removed a lot of dead fall, (trees and branches that blew down during winter storms), which along with the accumulation of trash in the wooded area surrounding the building contributed to risk of loss in the event of a wildfire.


After a morning’s work, the area surrounding the building looked much better.  They were encouraged by the amount of work accomplished in one day.  Their efforts were featured on a local television station to encourage others in the town to make a difference in their own personal safety, by taking simple steps to reduce their risk of loss during a wildfire. 


They celebrated their success with a lunch, demonstration of wildland firefighting gear, and a helicopter water drop.  Smokey Bear even stopped by to thank the children who helped..  But most importantly this is just the beginning of their preparedness efforts.  Their success has generated an interest in sustaining their preparedness efforts.  Jon Cote shared, “this is the first time we were selected for the program, but hope the event continues for years to come.”  What is your Wildfire Community Preparedness Day success story?

All photos taken by Faith Berry NFPA

Picture of mountain rainbow by Faith Berry

Planning a summer getaway?  Make sure that you pay attention to park closures due to some of the large wildfires burning out West.  It is always a good idea to check fire and other weather conditions before you head out, so that you stay safe.


The National Interagency Fire Center report listed the National Preparedness level at 2, with 21 active wildfires currently burning in eight states.  These wildfires have burnt over 124,000 acres.  Two of the largest wildfires are currently burning in New Mexico.  The first the Ute Park Fire has caused the closure of parts of UTE Park for public safety, and has burnt over 36,000 acres alone. This fire is located 1 mile east of Ute Park and is burning along Highway 64 which is causing road closures.  The second fire in New Mexico the Buzzard Fire is burning in the Gila National Forest.  This fire has caused areas of the Gila National Forest to be closed for public safety and has caused road closures.


In Texas the Scenic Loop Complex is actually 18 wildfires burning north of Highway 166 in the Davis Mountains.  These fires were caused by thunderstorms and have burned over 8,000 acres in the area.  This fire has caused a temporary flight restriction in the area to accommodate firefighting aircraft.


Before you leave for your summer holiday make sure that you have also left your home well prepared in case a wildfire occurs while you are away.  Taking simple precautions, such as cleaning up material from under decks, cleaning debris from gutters, and remove patio cushions from lawn furniture and store them in the house or garage while you are away.  For more tips on wildfire safety check out the Firewise USA ® website.


If you are a middle school, high school or college student and want to do something besides sit inside and be glued to a screen.  Learn how you can make a difference in creating communities safer from wildfire, learn new work skills and make new friends in your community.


Check out NFPA’s Take Action website for ideas and activities for community service projects.  These projects can be completed at home, done to help a neighbor or with permission from your school and other agency meet community service project requirements.  Always make sure that you take proper safety precautions.  We have attached a safety tip sheet that you can download.


Some project ideas include;

  1. Sweeping pine needles, leaves and other material from off your porch or deck.  Don’t forget to dispose of it when you are done.
  2. Raking underneath decks, porches, sheds and play structures.  Remember to dispose the debris.
  3. Mowing grass to a height of four inches or less.
  4. This is a good math project, get out your measuring tape and see how close wood piles are located to the home.  If closer than 30 feet, they need to be moved at least 30 feet away.
  5. Build an emergency Go bag.  Tip sheet is attached to this blog.
  6. Volunteer to help senior neighbors build a go bag for themselves and their pets.
  7. Talk to your parents about what you would do if there was a wildfire or other disaster in your neighborhood or if you are at school. Then make a plan together.
  8. Organize an outreach campaign to babysitters in your neighborhood and the families they work about the importance of learning the family’s emergency plan.


When you have completed your project, be a good friend and neighbor and share your accomplishments on social media to encourage others you know to participate as well.  The more you learn about how to prepare for a disaster and how you can take steps to make you and your family safer from wildfire the safer you will feel and be.  For other great videos and information about how you can empower yourself to be safer from disaster check out all the resources on NFPA’s TakeAction webpage.  

Photo of prescribed fire working group at the Salish-Kootenai community field trip. Photo by Faith Berry

Last week researchers from at least 20 countries from across the globe, met and shared professional information and knowledge with each other in Missoula, Montana at the Fire Continuum Conference. This incredible workshop featured more than 400 presentations from respected researchers in the field of wildfire and fire science, as well as notable key note speakers including Vicki Christiansen the interim US Forest Service Chief, Dave Calkin, PhD, Supervisory Research Forester, Human Dimensions Program, USDA Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Mark Finney, Research Forester, USDA Forest Service, Missoula Fire Sciences Laboratory and more.


Some workshop topics included, NASA collaboration in Earth data sharing, communicating risk, using process-based coupled fire/atmosphere models to gain better understanding of wildfire dynamics, conservation impacts of a near real-time monitoring and alert system for the tropics, and so much more. Lucian Deaton from the NFPA presented the Research Foundation’s findings about Global Perspectives on Wildfire Community Risk Reduction.


 What was even more unique about conference was the keynote presentation about the importance of inclusivity in fire management and science.  Of special interest during this presentation was the information shared by Diego R. Perez-Salicrup, from the Universidad Nacional Autonoma De Mexico.  He shared how they have learned from indigenous people about traditional and cultural uses of fire on the landscape. 


An organized field trip that was a part of the conference explored how the Salish-Kootenai tribe used prescribe fire not only to manage the landscape for wildfire but also how they developed an integrated planning group including cultural, environmental, forestry, water and fire experts in drafting and managing prescribed fire plans.  The results were incredible! An important part of this conference and any community wildfire safety plan to address wildfire risks are knowing the science behind planned risk reduction projects and inclusivity, allowing everyone to be an integral part in developing and implementing activities to reduce risk of loss from wildfire.

                                                                                               Photo of Lucian Deaton presenting by Michele Steinberg


Photo shared by April Hale from Stevensville, Montana 


People are telling us what they did on Wildfire Community Preparedness Day.  The best part of their incredible stories is the fact that they had fun, while at the same time creating safer neighborhoods.  Francis Reynolds from New Mexico told me, “It was fun, and we got a lot done.”  Activities completed on the day included helping seniors, cleaning up roadways, scouts helping with neighborhood clean-up, families working together, seniors maintaining common areas and more.


It was heartwarming to know that fire departments got the help they needed, cities were able to help senior residents be safer, and hear stories about how neighborhoods worked together and not only created safer places to live but grew bonds of friendship, all on the same day. 


A wonderful saying shared with me by one of the communities that participated on the day by Ralph Waldo Emerson summarized what many of these hard working folks shared with me, “Write it on your heart that every day is the best day in the year.”  Many of them had such a great time working and yes, having fun together on Prep Day that they want to continue working on wildfire safety projects throughout the year.

                                                                                                       Photo shared by Gayle Ehlman in Ryderwood, Washington                                                            

NFPA appreciates the support received from State Farm to provide the awards to 150 community and individual projects in 36 states from across the United States.  These people have made a difference working together on projects that reduce their risk of loss.  Many other communities also participated in this grass roots wildfire safety effort.  We will be sharing some of their stories soon. Check out the Wildfire Community Preparedness Day page for success stories today.  Tell us how you participated!












Photo shared by Frances Reynolds in San Cristóbal, New Mexico

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