NFPA wants to connect with you on wildfire and fire & life safety public education beyond just blogs. Many of the Wildfire Division and Public Education staff are active on Twitter and bring their diverse backgrounds to their real-time updates on NFPA’s outreach, messaging, and new resources.
This is another outlet for you to learn about what what’s happening and how it can benefit your local efforts. Interact and engage with us where outreach and community risk reduction occur. You don’t need to have a Twitter account to read the Twitter feeds, but if you do, please follow these great staff accounts:
Karen Berard-Reed(@KBerardReed) andChelsea Rubadou(@Chelsea_NFPA) share that, “We are Community Risk Reduction Strategists at NFPA working to meet the needs of NFPA stakeholders in the CRR space. We tweet about events, conversations, and innovations that move CRR into the forefront of the fire and life safety conversation.”
Michele Steinberg, NFPA’s Wildfire Division Director, (@Michele_NFPA) brings her nearly 30-years of disaster safety mitigation and education focus to Twitter. She shares that, “I style myself “NFPA’s cheerleader for wildfire safety.” While I do use Twitter to promote what we’re doing at NFPA, I love how the platform allows me to cheer on what others are doing and bring timely issues to folks’ attention by using the all-important hashtag: #wildfire / #hazmit / #Firewise / and #infoknowledge.”
Lisa Braxton, Public Education Specialist with NFPA, (@LisaReidbraxton) promotes blog posts from NFPA’s Safety Source, along with highlights of new resources and online educational opportunities from NFPA Public Education.
Megan Fitzgerald-McGowanwith the Wildfire Division (@meganfitz34) brings her experience as a wildland firefighter to NFPA’s wildfire division. She promotes NFPA resources related to wildfire risk reduction around homes and communities, encourages a collaborative approach to wildfire preparedness, and shares current wildfire related research.
Andrea Vastis, Senior Director for Public Education at NFPA, (@AndreaVastis) is a public health education professional. She explains that, “I follow AARP Livable Communities and CDC Injury Prevention and Adolescent Health Centers. I communicate about health events, public health observances, and timely updates related to fire and life safety.”
Faith Berrywith the Wildfire Division (@Faithannberry) shares, “I love using Twitter to help people find their way to the latest wildfire news on NFPA's Xchange. Did you know that you can join in on the conversation? I like to hear how our stakeholders are making their communities safer and share their successes.”
Laura King, NFPA’s Public Education Representative in Canada, (@LauraKingNFPA) brings the Canadian and North American connections to NFPA’s outreach on Twitter. She shares that, “I tweet about all things public-education related in Canada, from Sparky to sprinklers and everything in between!”
I am also on Twitter at (@Lucian_NFPA). In my work managing the Wildfire Division’s international outreach, I share highlights from international conferences, the work of NFPA’s great partner around the world, and lessons from international field tours that NFPA enjoys as it learns more about the global challenge of wildfire community risk reduction.
In addition to these staff accounts, you can learn more about the Firewise USA® Program (@Firewise); follow the official Twitter profile for the National Fire Protection Association for the latest news on fire and life safety, code info and research (@NFPA); and gain valuable youth-focused public education resources from Sparky the Fire Dog (@Sparky_Fire_Dog).
The November/December NFPA Journal® is out and its Wildfire column explores social equity in wildfire preparedness and outreach. While fire does not discriminate, we need to make sure we aren’t just talking to the residents who may already be well organized and able to act on wildfire risk reduction. A great example of bridging the class divide in Hawaii points to a positive future.
For some backstory, NFPA hosted a listening session in 2018 to learn what “community risk reduction” meant to an audience of fire service and policy implementers. The attendees highlighted a range of topics, but it was a singular mention about the importance of social equity in community outreach that got me thinking about how we reach all communities at risk to wildfire.
This question is as important internationally, as it is across the United States. The example from the Hawaii Wildfire Management Organization on honoring what communities have already done, as well as their existing capacity to build risk reduction, gave answers to that question. I hope the column gets you thinking too.
I am also happy to share that after 5 years and 29 Wildfire columns, this edition will be my last as its writer. Starting this January, NFPA’s Wildfire Division Director, Michele Steinberg, will take the Wildfire column to new heights as she brings her nearly 30 years of disaster safety mitigation and education experience to its voice.
5 years is a long time and I feel privileged to have had the opportunity to share the diverse issues of wildfire with the readers of NFPA Journal®, and you. The column has explored wildfire evacuation lessons, post fire policy assessments, and the impacts of climate change. It has highlighted the burden on volunteer fire departments, the challenge of rebuilding on local governments, and budgeting. It’s also shown the steadfast resiliency of residents in the face of risk and the positive role NFPA plays.
As we look ahead, Michele shares that, “I’m grateful to Lucian for using the column to illuminate so many facets of wildland fire management, risk reduction, and community outreach for the past five years. A column in Journal is truly a bully pulpit to reach, teach, inspire and instigate around urgent concerns for fire and life safety. If I can help readers see things in a new way and question the status quo, I’ll have fulfilled my mission. While wildfires are inevitable, home destruction and human suffering are not. As [NFPA President] Jim Pauley says about our fire and life safety mission, “we still have work to do.” I hope readers will join me in learning about the gaps in our safety and how they can take action to change future outcomes. “
Wildfires can occur anywhere when the conditions are right. One of the most horrific wildfires in the history of the United States occurred in October 1871 in Wisconsin, “The Great Peshtigo Fire.” In that fire alone which occurred on the same date as the Great Chicago Fire over 1,500 people may have perished though there is no accurate record of the loss.
Low humidity, winds, dried vegetation (perhaps from extended periods of drought), the type of topography, and warm temperatures can all contribute to the behavior and spread of a wildfire. But what makes a wildfire a slowly creeping natural event, a normal part of many ecosystems, and what causes it to become a raging mega fire? How can firefighters and residents understand what the potential risks are during their wildfire incident? How do conditions change and can these changes cause wildland firefighters to be put at greater risk while they engage in suppression and mitigation efforts?
Perhaps in the future there will be better wildfire weather warning systems like other severe warning systems available for weather occurrences like tornadoes and hurricanes, which can help residents and firefighters better understand the severity of the fire complex approaching and developing within their community to help them make better suppression and evacuation choices focusing on life safety. Maybe just like a cat 5 hurricane prediction, weather and fire researchers using satellite information and information about vegetation and topography will better be able to model the severity of a potential wildfire event.
Image: courtesy of the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
The stories highlight the importance of working on wildfire preparedness projects focusing on the home and the area surrounding the home,the Home Ignition Zone. One example of a home in Redding, California that survivedthe Carr Fire was a home owned by Randal Hauser. He not only had made changes to his home including a metal roof and clean gutters but also paid attention especially to the five-foot zone around the home using cement walkways, crushed rock, and other non-combustible materials.
In Nevada, another homeowner who made updates to his home including a class A rated roof, concrete border and deck made with synthetic materials was given assistance by theNevada Division of Forestry to help with supplemental fuels work. Even though the Berry Fire came within feet of his home, his home was spared and he is credited with creating a safer location for firefighters to stage their firefighting efforts.
The Weather Channel has created a video that shows how a wildfire spreads. It does not take much for a fire to ignite when the conditions are right, and this video not only gives you an on the ground view but also provides a bird’s eye view with nicely embedded graphics.
Other weather conditions like high winds, low relative humidity in the vegetation, and extended drought conditions can all contribute to wildfire intensity.
California has experienced large, destructive wildfires in the past few years that have led to thousands of destroyed homes and businesses. The time is NOW for fire service, facility managers, and insurance and realty professionals to learn how to identify and prevent ignition risks to homes. NFPA will bring its Assessing Structure Ignition Potential from Wildfire classroom training to the Hyatt Regency Orange County in the Garden Grove area of Anaheim on December 13-14, 2018.
Participants will learn the science behind how homes ignite from wildfire. More importantly, they'll find out the best ways to advise property owners about actions that will help prevent ignition and reduce the chances of home destruction during a brush or forest fire. Register now for NFPA's Assessing Structure Ignition Potential from Wildfire two-day training. This class will provide valuable skills and knowledge to help you in your wildfire safety and loss prevention mission.
The presentations ranged from economic trends to post-fire recovery planning to case studies of successful planning activities to the limits of planning approaches - and even telling the story of wildfire and community through art. The day was packed with thoughtful conversation and discussion from multiple perspectives.
Image: screenshot from Idaho Public Television recording on October 19, 2018, showing the panel on the limits of planning for wildfire in the WUI. From left to right, Miranda Mockrin, Research Scientist, US Forest Service Northern Research Station; Meghan Housewright, Director, NFPA Fire and Life Safety Policy Institute; Michele Steinberg, Director, NFPA Wildfire Division.
As the article notes, Yavapai County ranks 4th in the nation for numbers of Firewise USA sites in good standing. Timber Ridge in Prescott, the county seat, was the first Firewise USA site when the program began in 2002. The Prescott Area Wildland Urban Interface Commission, or PAWUIC, has been active for even longer than the Firewise program, bringing agencies and landowners together around wildfire safety since 1990. Yet the need for collaborative efforts and fire adapted community action has never been greater, as wildfires continue as a growing threat.
It is that time of year and you are working hard to make your yard and home safer from wildfire, so what do you do with the pine needles, leaves, branches, weeds and other stuff you get rid of from on and around your home? In my recent travels to film stories about communities who made a difference in their wildfire safety, I heard from one homeowner who told me that before they knew it created greater risk, they just threw the grass clippings and other debris they removed doing yard work downhill below their home. An even worse scenario is when, individuals remove material from their yards and dump it in a park or other common area.
It is just as important to properly dispose of the debris that you remove as it is to complete your home wildfire safety maintenance project. That is the important final step of any project work. Removing debris improperly or just keeping it on your property can add flammable material that can ignite from embers or burn from other flame sources and actually contribute to increased risk of loss from wildfire.
It is important to know what you are going to do with all the stuff you want to remove to reduce your wildfire risk. Some solutions include:
1. Use goats to eat up unwanted material. Did you know they love to eat poison oak?
2. Haul debris to a local solid waste facility. Some will even compost the material.
3. Burning can be an option if it is carried out and coordinated with your local fire and other land managing agencies. One community had a portable incinerator they used that burnt even large branches to tiny ash. Make sure you are aware of all ordinances in your community before using this option. In some areas there are air pollution regulations to be aware of.
4. Chip material, and keep mulched material at least five feet away from your home. One community donated clean chips to a local recreation area for trail maintenance work.
5. Find a biomass facility that can use the material for a product like pellets for wood stoves.
6. Create craft objects such as picture frames etc. from materials removed from around their yard. This can actually become a community fund raising project!
7.Pool resources to rent a green dumpster to help neighborhood residents remove debris in a cost effective way. Enjoying a meal together afterwards helps build on relationships developed by working together cleaning up.
For more ideas about how communities worked together to reduce their threat of loss during a fire check out the Prep Day success pages. What solution have you created to remove your materials?
As a reminder for us all today, the Journal shares that, “An article published by NFPA in January 1919 pointed to a lack of preventative measures, such as creating firebreaks by clearing vegetation and plowing, which contributed to the fire’s devastation."
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.”
Firewise USA® has a new video that helps answer those questions. Watch as a wildfire mitigation specialist evaluates a home and property with owners. See what concerns she identifies and learn the steps recommended to reduce the likelihood of ignition. Listen as the homeowners share their initial fears about being left out of the decision making process and their reaction to the work that has been done.
Fire Prevention Week begins on October 7. It's the perfect time to find out more about wildfire and what you can do to keep your home and family safe!
This year's theme is "Look. Listen. Learn. Be aware. Fire can happen anywhere." This is just as true of wildfire as it is about any other fire risk your home faces. In that spirit, NFPA's Wildfire Division is offering three new ways for you to get wildfire safety information throughout the week.
Expand your knowledge with a new and interactive course, "Understanding the Wildfire Threat to Homes." LEARN how homes ignite from wildfire and how important it is to take risk reduction steps before fire ever starts. This learning module will debut on Friday, October 12.
To keep aware and well-informed about wildfire all year long, be sure to bookmark www.firewise.organd visit often!
The session includes important information from subject matter experts at the Rocky Mountain Insurance Information Association, Northwest Insurance Council and the Insurance Information Institute along with a 15-minute live interactive opportunity for participants to ask the panel’s experts their questions.
During the webinar, participants will discover what insurance companies know about their property, how they make policy related decisions and most importantly how to ensure their policy is all it needs to be when a wildfire strikes.