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242 Posts authored by: lisamariesinatra Employee

Research around home destruction vs. home survival during wildfires points to embers and small flames as the main way the majority of homes ignite. Did you know that every day household items we keep outside can contribute to the spread of flames as well as ember ignitions?

In the video, Dr. Jack Cohen, Fire Science Researcher with the USDA Forest Service (retired), discusses how to spot these items and provides two quick and easy steps that can help reduce the risk of them igniting. 

As Wildfire Community Preparedness Day draws near, use this opportunity to embark on a plan for how you’ll address wildfire safety around your home and property.  

Find additional information about Wildfire Community Preparedness Day and related project ideas on

Research around home destruction vs. home survival during wildfires points to embers and small flames as the main way the majority of homes ignite. While many of us may think that just our homes are at risk, there are places on our property like sheds, chicken coops, and other structures that are in danger too, and close enough to ignite and spread flames to the house.

In the video, Dr. Jack Cohen, Fire Science Researcher with the USDA Forest Service (retired), takes us on a tour of a local property and points out some of the key outbuildings that can pose a danger during a wildfire.

As Wildfire Community Preparedness Day draws near, use this opportunity to start thinking about wildfire safety at home and in your neighborhood. Find additional information about Wildfire Community Preparedness Day and related project ideas on

Research around home destruction vs. home survival during wildfires points to embers and small flames as the main way the majority of homes ignite. Evaluating your home's risk to embers and flames can help you determine the areas around your home that are most vulnerable.

In the video, Dr. Jack Cohen, Fire Science Researcher with the USDA Forest Service (retired), takes us on a tour of a local home and shows us five key areas we may not have realized contribute to home ignitions. 

As Wildfire Community Preparedness Day draws near, use this opportunity to jump start your work with your state forestry agency or fire department who can help conduct risk evaluations of homes in your neighborhood. These professionals not only can help you identify areas around your home that need attention, but they can also provide guidance on the activities you can help make a difference.

Find additional information about Wildfire Community Preparedness Day and related project ideas on



When it comes to wildfire, communities all across the globe are continuing to find ways to work together to prepare ahead and reduce their risk. In Tuesday’s session at NFPA’s Conference & Expo, “A Little Help From Your Friends:  Lessons Learned from Wildfire Engagement Campaigns from Around the World,” panel members Faith Berry and Lucian Deaton from NFPA, Kelly Johnston of Partners in Protection in Canada, and Oriol Vilalta from the Pau Costa Foundation in Spain, discussed their experiences and challenges, and highlighted examples of community-wide engagement campaigns taking place in the U.S., Canada, and Spain that are motivating people to act to help make where they live safer from wildfire.


Over the last few years, wildfires have made headlines due to the record-setting number of fires and acres burned. In 2017, the U.S. saw one of the worst seasons on record with more than 71,000 fires burning more than 10 million acres. Across the border in Canada, British Columbia had its second worst fire season on record. And across the Atlantic, a recent fire map showed massive flames burning across Italy, Romania and Russia while New Zealand, South Africa and Brazil saw wildfires destroy hundreds of homes. In Portugal, 60 people died over the course of one weekend in June due to wildfires.


Yet despite the overwhelming numbers, residents living in high-risk wildfire areas continue their efforts to adapt and prepare. One of the ways they are taking action is by participating in NFPA’s Wildfire Community Preparedness Day. The panel was excited to discuss how events like Prep Day are gaining momentum, reaching a global scale. In 2015, Canada launched its version of Prep Day and just this year, Spain and Italy joined the global stage with similar campaigns. 


"We are so excited to see how much interest there is in Preparedness Day," said Berry. "Each year since our pilot program, the number of applications have grown considerably, and every year we collaborate with more and more great organizations who are committed and passionate about wildfire safety." 


"Preparedness Day is a really great integrated international program," said Johnston. "And here in Canada we have been working very hard at educating communities about their risk. Because of this, we continue to see community involvement in this event increase every year, which is exciting."


Vilalta echoed this sentiment by saying," The Foundation, which was developed to provide a platform for exchanging knowledge on forest fire ecology and management at a European level, continues to work with communities on a regular basis so they are not just prepared, but well aware of and understand their risk before a fire threatens their area."


After initial introductions to their individual programs, the panel then focused on a handful of key questions and shared insight with their audience. Questions like: How do you engage local stakeholders in wildfire mitigation like insurance agencies, fire departments and government officials in your communities? What are the kinds of materials you create to help promote Preparedness Day events? The open dialogue proved a great way to help inspire and engage members of the audience to go back to their own communities and take the next step.


Because of local, community action, people are making a difference where they live when it comes to wildfire safety. To learn more about Prep Day, visit us at Additional information about NFPA’s international partnerships and the great work these global communities are doing, can be found on NFPA’s wildfire webpage.

Firewise USA, wildfire safety, Oregon, wildfire preparedness


Firewise USA™ welcomes Ashley Blakely, Public Information Officer and Fire & Life Safety Specialist, Jackson Country Fire District 3, White City, Oregon, as our guest blogger. Below is her account of Southern Oregon’s first Firewise Expo held in May. Ashley asked NFPA if she could share the success of the event and its activities with other community residents living in high-risk wildfire areas.


In May, fire agencies and emergency managers from Jackson and Josephine counties hosted the first ever Southern Oregon Firewise Expo held in White City at Fire District 3 regional training grounds. Over the two-day period, close to 1,100 community members visited the Expo to take part in hands-on learning that focused on burn pile safety and construction, poor vs. proper planning in the home ignition zone, and tips for how to identify fire-resistant and fire-prone plants within their landscape. 


Fire personnel from multiple local agencies facilitated several interactive demonstrations that highlighted how the community and their families could better prepare themselves and their home for fire season.

"The live fire demonstrations were especially impactful for landowners to experience. Southern Oregon is highly susceptible to wildfire and some of the more common fire-prone plants such as juniper, cypress and arborvitae, are commonly placed near the home. We wanted to show how vulnerable these types of plants could be to a home in the event of a wildfire," said Ashley Lara, Fire District 3 Fire & Life Safety Specialist and National Fire Adapted Communities Network Member.

There were also plenty of other demonstrations that fire crews helped with, including proper chipping techniques and how to make an emergency preparedness kit. For those who were interested in fire science, there was a discussion around the science behind Firewise landscaping [limiting the amount of flammable vegetation and materials surrounding the home and increasing the moisture content of remaining vegetation]. There was also a restoration area where natural resource managers, restoration experts, local nurseries and fire officials provided education on how to make “Firewise” choices for their home and landscape.

"Living in the Rogue Valley, being Firewise is not just a choice, but a way of life. Citizens must adopt fire safe practices around their home and neighborhoods to better protect our communities from the impacts of wildfire," said Alison Lerch, Ashland Fire and Rescue Fire Adapted Communities Coordinator and National Fire Adapted Communities Network Member.

The event was a great success and will be brought back to the National Fire Adapted Communities Network meeting in 2018 for others to share with their own communities. A number of PSAs, brochures and web material are currently being created to educate the community about Firewise USA™ and preparedness practices. Stay tuned for more to come!


Interested in learning about the Firewise USA program, and ways you and your community can reduce the risk of damage from a wildfire? Visit us at


Photo: A demonstration at the Southern Oregon Firewise Expo.

Earth Day, Wildfire Safety, Firewise, Earth Smarts

Tomorrow the world celebrates Earth Day and NFPA is doing its part to protect Mother Earth by participating in activities found in our Earth Smart Checklist. The checklist is a great resource for kids and families alike and includes tasks everyone can do together. Did you know that by completing all of the activities on the list, you'll not only protect animals, trees and plants, but you'll also be helping reduce the risk of damage to your home and property from a wildfire, too!


The following are examples of some of the great activities you can do with your family on Earth Day :

* Rake dead leaves, sticks and pine needles off your lawn

* Remove leaves and twigs and anything flammable from under the deck

* Give the plants and shrubs plenty of water to keep them hydrated


But don't stop there. Go ahead and download the checklist to find more tips and ideas that will help you “stay green” and wildfire safe on Earth Day and all year long!

WUI, wildfire, wildfire awards, wildfire conference,

A handful of NFPA staff are attending the Wildland-Urban Interface Conference (WUI) in Reno, Nevada this week to network with and learn from peers from across the country on a wide-range of wildfire topics including forest protection, safety and preparedness, land management, and more. During the conference, there was a special presentation announcing the winners of the 2017 Wildfire Mitigation Awards. NFPA is pleased to help announce the names of the recipients. They are:

• Ann Hogan (Town of Riverview, Wisconsin)
• Bob Betts (Prescott Area Wildland Urban Interface Commission, Prescott, Arizona)
• Brianna Binnebose (Utah Division of Forestry, Fire and State Lands)
• Brian Schaffler (USDA Forest Service)
• Chief Walton Daugherty (City of Helotes Fire Department, Helotes, Texas)
• City of Borger, Texas
• Heather Campbell (Pollock Pines Fire Safe Council, Pollock Pines, California)
• Jim Tencza (FireWise of Southwest Colorado, Bayfield, Colorado)
• Joanne Drummond (Fire Safe Council of Nevada County, Grass Valley, California)
• John T. Mele (Snowmass Wildcat Fire Protection District, Snowmass Village, Colorado)
• Pete Padelford (Blue Lake Springs Homeowners Association, Arnold, California)
• Rebecca Samulski (FireWise of Southwest Colorado, Dolores, Colorado)
• Santa Fe Fire Department Wildland Division (Santa Fe, New Mexico)
• Yarnell Fire Mitigation Cooperative (Yarnell, Arizona)

In case you weren’t aware, the awards were established in 2014 and are the highest commendation for innovation and leadership displayed by individuals and organizations committed to wildfire mitigation. Know someone (or a group of people) whose work deserves recognition? Consider nominating them during next year’s nomination period!

In addition, Jack Cohen, USDA Forest Service retiree, received the 2017 Wildfire Mitigation Legacy Award for his work in developing the science behind many effective wildland-fire mitigation concepts used today across North America. For many who know Jack and his work, this award is well deserved.

The awards are sponsored by the National Association of State Foresters (NASF), the International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC), NFPA, and the USDA Forest Service (USFS). Learn more by visiting NASF's website, and stay tuned for more details on next year’s award nomination details!


Photo (L to R): Chief John Sinclair, President, IAFC; Vicki Christiansen, Deputy Chief of State and Private Forestry, USDA Forest Service; Jack Cohen, USDA Forest Service retiree, Lorraine Carli, Vice President for Outreach & Advocacy, NFPA; Jim Karels, NASF and Florida state forester. 


In 2015, the nation’s largest fire in terms of direct property loss was the Valley Fire that occurred in California. Three days after that fire began, the next-biggest large-loss fire of the year, the Butte Fire, also broke out in California.

Both of these fires ranked among the most costly in the state’s history, according to NFPA’s “Fire Loss in the United States During 2015” report, published in the September/October issue of NFPA Journal. Combined, the fires destroyed thousands of homes and other structures, were blamed for at least six deaths, and resulted in a loss of almost $2 billion dollars. These fires rank as the second- and fourth-largest wildfire losses in the state in the past 10 years. With the Valley and Butte Fires, 2015 was the ninth year out of the past 10 that a wildfire topped the list of the year’s biggest large-loss fires.

NFPA reports annually on large-loss fires and explosions that occurred in the U.S. the year before, defined as an event that results in property damage of at least $10 million. Get a breakdown and/or read the full report, including information and statistics on large-loss wildfires, in the latest issue of the Journal.


Photograph: Valley Fire/CA; Reuters images

My colleague, Fred Durso, the communications manager for NFPA's Fire Sprinkler Initiative, recently shared a moving story about holiday fire safety, and in turn, I want to share it with all of you.


Sher Grogg lost her brother, sister-in-law and their four grandchildren in a devastating Christmas tree fire 2015 in Annapolis, Maryland, and she is urging the public to take simple yet proactive steps that could save lives this holiday season. Ms. Grogg is one of the newest voices for the group, Common Voices, an advocates' coalition determined to create a fire-safe America. She is also the face behind the coalition's #DoItForDon campaign.


Read Fred's blog to get Sher's story, watch her video and take a special pledge to keep home fire safety top of mind this holiday season. You can also read more about the coalition on the Common Voices website.


Find additional information about home fire sprinklers at Tips, videos, checklists and more about Christmas tree and holiday fire safety are available on NFPA's Project Holiday webpage.

Tennessee native and country music star, Dolly Parton, with help from her friend Smokey Bear, are teaming up to help in the fight against forest fires in the Smoky Mountain region.

A new video PSA created by the National Park Service spotlights Smokey and Ms. Parton, who urges Tennessee residents to take action to help prevent forest fires by following a few simple but key steps, including observing all burn bans and tying up trailer chains to keep them from sparking and igniting a fire.


Watch the video below:


To date, according to the state Division of Forestry, there are close to 65 active wildfires in Tennessee burning more than 15,000 acres. Thankfully, most are nearly contained. But with the warmer temperatures and severe drought conditions affecting most of the state and across the south, there is still an increased risk for more fires to ignite.


Learn more about what you can do before a wildfire threatens your area. Find tip sheets, toolkits, project ideas and more at and at


Awards.JPGKnow an organization or individual who has made great strides in wildfire preparedness and safety? Then why don't you nominate him/her (or them!) for the Wildfire Mitigation Awards!


The awards are sponsored by the National Association of State Foresters (NASF), the International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC), NFPA and the USDA Forest Service. The awards are a great way to say "thank you" to those who are making a difference in our communities. And if you didn't know, by honoring the outstanding achievements of these people, we are also helping to increase awareness of the value, benefits and importance of wildfire mitigation.


There are three categories that you can nominate people for:

  • National Mitigation Award
  • National Mitigation Hero Award
  • National Special Recognition Mitigation Award


Read the guidelines and criteria to learn more. Applications are being accepted through October 30, 2016.


So what are you waiting for? Take the time to fill out the application and nominate the person or organization you think deserves recognition for all of the great work they are doing around wildfire mitigation. You'll be glad you did!

Climate Change.JPGSince 1979, climate change is responsible for more than half of the dryness of Western forests and the increased length of the fire season, according to an article, “Climate Change Blamed for Half of Increased Forest Fire Danger,” in the New York Times.


This statistic comes from a new study published this week in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. It explains that “the combination of a long period of drought in the West and hot temperatures have caused trees and undergrowth to become particularly tinderlike. Warmer air can draw more moisture, in general, from trees and plants, turning them into kindling.” Cyclical climate variations, which are also affected by patterns in the Pacific Ocean, and human-caused climate change together have caused the drying process to double.


“People tell me that they’ve never seen fires as active as what they’re battling right now,” Dr. A. Park Williams, one of the study’s authors, said, “What we’re seeing in (the) fire world is much different than what we saw in the 1980s, and in the 2030s, fires will be unrecognizable to what we’re seeing now.”


While humans can’t completely control climate change and its consequences, there are steps we can take to help us better prepare for the threat of wildfire. NFPA’s latest Firewise toolkit offers a homeowner’s checklist, steps to take during Red Flag Days, and so much more.


Additional resources like videos, tip sheets and project ideas for everyone of all ages can be found on the Firewise website. Materials are free and most are available to download and share with family, friends and neighbors.

This September as we celebrate National Preparedness Month, join 60 National Strategy for Youth Preparedness partner organizations (NFPA is pleased to be a partner!) and thousands of children across the U.S. in learning critical safety skills at home and at school.


Through a new video, “The Prep Step!” you can help teach kids the basics of emergency preparedness, and make preparation fun! The video packs a powerful punch of preparedness learning in just 90 seconds so you can fit it easily into your schedule and keeps kids grooving and moving during break time, after school or at home. The three key steps the video focuses on are:  the importance of knowing "In Case of Emergency (ICE) contacts," making a plan, and packing a go-bag.



According to statistics, less than half of American families have an emergency plan, but children can be powerful change agents in leading the movement (literally and figuratively) towards preparedness. Did you know that families of school-aged children who bring home preparedness resources are 75 percent more likely to have a family plan? It’s true.


So won’t you join us? Help kids in your family, school or community learn emergency preparedness basics in a fun way. Learn the Prep Step! then, register your group and tell us what you’ll be doing on September 19, the Day of Action, to engage children in preparedness through this fun song and dance!


For more information, visit the Save the Children organization web site.

Since its creation almost five years, NFPA's Firewise Toolkit has been one of the most popular resources for homeowners and other wildfire stakeholders interesting in learning how to reduce wildfire risk.


FW Toolkit 2.JPGThat's why we're so pleased to announce our updated Toolkit is now available! In addition to information about the Firewise recognition program and a guide to Firewise principles, we also include a few new pieces that we know you'll love and use often. The Toolkit is available online and it's free!


Whether you're a homeowner using the checklist to create defensible space around your home, a community member interested in working with your neighbors to establish a recognized Firewise Communities/USA site, or a group of residents who want to know what steps you can take together during a wildfire watch or warning, the updated Firewise Toolkit is a great collection of resources that not only helps raise awareness of wildfire safety, it offers tips and activities that can help you prepare before a wildfire threatens your area. You just have to check it out and see!


The Toolkit can be downloaded in its entirety or as individual components. It's a great resource to share with your friends and family, and others in your community. There are even checklists that you can print out and keep on your fridge for easy access and reminders.


Check out our Toolkit and get started today on helping prepare your home and your neighborhood from a wildfire threat. You'll be so glad you did!

HIZ Class NFPA.jpgIn the last few years you've seen us post information about our popular two-day Assessing Wildfire Hazards in the Home Ignition Zone (HIZ) course, aimed at professionals in emergency response, insurance, community planning and development, and urban and wildland conservation who can benefit from an in-depth understanding of the theory of wildfire losses and mitigation concepts. This year, thanks to Fire Prevention & Safety Grant funding from DHS/FEMA, we were able to extend this course to additional U.S. locations (Phoenix, Sacramento, Oklahoma City, Portland OR, and Spokane) and fund the travel and participation of local fire service members. (Learn what participants had to say about the course and their experience.)


This week the course comes to NFPA Headquarters in Quincy, MA. Led by veteran instructor, Gary Marshall, the two-day event welcomes 25 firefighters from states such as Virginia, Montana, Oregon, Washington and right here in Massachusetts to participate in discussions and training around today's wildfire hazards. During the course, the participants are getting a chance to go off-site to learn the nuts and bolts of a home assessment and they're also discussing and sharing the challenges they and other local fire departments face with wildland/urban interface fire threats and residents who need to know how to protect their homes.


NFPA is happy to have been able to make this course a reality for these firefighters and we're honored to have them here on our own campus. Welcome!


If you'd like more information about hosting an HIZ course in your area, please visit today and we'll be happy to help!

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