Firewise Presentation_New Mexico WUI Summit
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Firewise Presentation_New Mexico WUI Summit



A presentation to participants at the March 2011 New Mexico WUI Summit in Ruidoso. Learn how to become a recognized Firewise Communities/USA site!

A presentation to participants at the March 2011 New Mexico WUI Summit in Ruidoso. Learn how to become a recognized Firewise Communities/USA site!



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Firewise Presentation_New Mexico WUI Summit Firewise Presentation_New Mexico WUI Summit Presentation Transcript

  • Firewise Communities
    A National Program You Can Use
  • Agenda
    Why Firewise?
    Some Background
    What’s New for You
  • Why Firewise?
    Wildfires can put dozens (even hundreds) of homes at risk simultaneously.
    Firefighters may not have the resources to protect each home.
    Residents can take action to increase their homes’ chances of surviving a wildfire.
    View slide
  • Why Firewise recognition?
    Wildfires will continue as an ecological phenomenon
    Most homes are located on private property
    Landowners prefer to exercise their right to make choices related to their surroundings
    Often, they are under the impression that there is nothing they can do
    View slide
  • Why Firewise recognition?
    Firewise Communities/USA offers communities the information to change this situation
    The program requires sustained community action in order for recognition status to be achieved and maintained
  • Why do communities participate?
    Firewise Communities/USA provides up-to-date, take-action information to homeowners
  • Why do communities participate?
    The program provides homeowners with the ability to create their own, unique solutions to their wildfire mitigation challenges
  • Why do communities participate?
    When people understand there is something they can do, they are more apt to act
  • Firewise recognition is about community
    Homeowners receive location-specific information and guidance to help them lower their fire risk
    They design and adopt plans that meet their needs
  • Firewise – A Little History
  • National Firewise Communities® Program
    VISION: Wildland fires can occur in areas of residential development without the occurrence of disastrous loss.
    MISSION: To promote community-wide responsibility in the use of technology, policy and practices that minimize the loss of life and property to wildland fire independent of fire fighting efforts.
  • Firewise program sponsors
    USDA-Forest Service
    U.S. Department of the Interior
    National Fire Protection Association
    National Association of State Foresters
    Federal Emergency Management Agency
    International Association of Fire Chiefs
    National Association of State Fire Marshals
    National Emergency Management Association
    U.S. Fire Administration
  • National Fire Protection Association (NFPA)
    Nonprofit life safety codes and standards organization
    Founded in 1896
    80,000+ members worldwide
    300+ consensus codes and standards documents
    Administers the Firewise program
    Partner with USDA Forest Service, US DOI, US Fire Administration on WUI Fire Protection since 1986
  • 1985 Wildfires – A Call to Action
    1,400 homes
    400 in ONE day!!
  • Firewise Timeline
    1991: Fire-resistant landscaping articles in Horticulture and Sunset
    1993: National Fire-Resistant Plant Task Force creates the name ‘Firewise’ at meeting in Ontario, California
    1996: was launched
    1998: Breakthrough research: The International Crown Fire Modeling Experiment
  • 1998 – A Research Breakthrough!
    International Crown Fire Modeling Experiment - Northwest Territories findings
    Big crown fire flames burn out in about 50 seconds
    Crown fire must be less than 100 feet to ignite a wood wall
    33 feet - heavy char; few ignitions
    66 feet - no char or scorch
  • The Firewise ‘Aha’!
    The research convinced us that homeowners COULD take control of their properties and, by working together, their communities
    We had the responsibility of sharing this information with the widest possible audience
    Forest Meadows - Murphys, California
  • Our Focus Turned to the Home Ignition Zone
    The concept of the home ignition zone was created. It refers to the 100-200’ around a house and its attachments
    A house burns because of its interrelationship with everything in its immediate surroundings (100 -200 feet)
    What happens within this zone is critical to structure survival
    A wildfire’s potential relationship with a house can be interrupted here
  • Recognition Criteria
    Firewise Communities/USA®
  • Firewise Communities/USA Standards
    STEP 1: Complete an assessment
    45 states have Firewise Communities/USA liaisons to coordinate this service
  • Firewise Communities/USA Standards
    STEP 2: Form a Firewise Board
    Members should include community residents, fire professionals and other interested parties
    They create a plan using information from the community assessment
  • Firewise Communities/USA Standards
    STEP 3: Sponsor an event
    Called ‘Firewise Day’, it implements specific action items in the community plan
  • Firewise Communities/USA Standards
    STEP 4: Invest a minimum of $2/capita
    Volunteer hours, equipment use, time contributed by agency fire staff and grant funding can be included
    A volunteer hour is currently valued at $20.85
    Count any and all work WITHIN the community
  • Firewise Communities/USA Standards
    STEP 5: Submit an application or renewal
    Application/renewal forms can be downloaded at
    Deliver to state liaison by December 31
    Receive Firewise communities/USA signs and other recognition materials
  • Why do we want renewal?
    Steps 3-5 – Firewise Day, $2/capita investment, and report (renewal form) must be repeated annually
    Sustained community action needed to improve fire safety
    Vegetation grows back – emphasis on maintenance
    “One-shot” recognition has little to no long-term impact on a community’s ignition resistance
  • The Big Idea
    Firewise concepts become ingrained and “normal” because we do them every day
    Behavior change models include recycling and seat belt use
    Firewise concepts can be supported by regulation and codes, but ultimately must be embraced by residents
    Participation is VOLUNTARY. The recognition program has retained nearly 80% of more than 800 communities that have ever initiated the process.
  • Firewise Communities/USA - Facts
    1999 pilot; 2002 official launch with 12 sites
    More than 650 sites in 41 states -- and growing!
    Residents are accepting their role in mitigating wildfire hazards
    Communities have invested more than $76 million since 2003
    245 sites involved 5+ years
  • Crystal Lake Club, Wisconsin
    A Recognized Community Since 2004
  • Engagement in Firewise: By State
    No active communities
    North Dakota
    Rhode Island
  • Products for Communities
    Recognition signs, plaque
    Story on the Firewise website
    Using “MyFirewise” network to connect/share
    Media Kit
    Quarterly “How To” Newsletter
    Firewise plant lists
    Firewise Alert (monthly email)
    Hill Country near Austin, Texas
  • Community Benefits
    Recognition ceremonies offer opportunities to showcase success and spread the word about Firewise, including media coverage.
    Improved rankings for FEMA Pre-Disaster Mitigation Planning and Project Grants
    Generation of a “me-too” attitude in surrounding areas
    Oklahoma Firewise
  • More community benefits
    • Residents gain increased sense of safety
    • Fire staff forges a bond with the community
    • Neighbor-to-neighbor communication is enhanced
    • Landscape, greenbelt and common area beautification often results
    Big Bear City, California
  • More community benefits
    • CWPPs can incorporate and support Firewise Communities to address structural ignitability
    • County/regional entities can and do use the program to reach the resident level
    • New Title III county funding promotes Firewise activity
    • Long-standing or ongoing efforts can gain increased recognition and attention
    Circle Oaks, Napa, California
  • Resources for You
    Firewise “User Guide”
    Includes a template for writing up community assessments
    Application forms, volunteer forms and more at
    Free online course on Conducting Community Assessments
    Helps advocates help their communities take the first step
    Social networking at MyFirewise
  • New at NFPA and Firewise
  • New at NFPA: Wildland Fire Operations Division
    • Keeps Firewise as a core education and advocacy program
    • Elevates wildland fire on a par with other public education and advocacy initiatives
    • Division Director Dave Nuss based in Colorado
    • Advisory Committee has met twice and helped shape strategic plan
    Dave Nuss, Director, NFPA Wildland Fire Operations
  • More New at NFPA:
    Firewise Materials on NFPA Catalog: Now with FREE shipping!
  • More New at NFPA:
    Partnership with International Association of Fire Chiefs on “Ready, Set, Go!”
  • Developments in 2010
    Ready, Set, Go!
    Created 1,000 flash drives with RSG and Firewise materials, distributed at IAFC WUI Conference in Reno and elsewhere
    Prepared talking points for IAFC and Firewise
    Firewise Outreach – NAPS
    North American Precis Syndicate (NAPS) distributed article
    Family Features put it on the web
    NAPS radio has a recorded 60-second PSA for wide use.
  • Developments in 2010
    Quick Response Unit – Communications
    Designed to work with state forestry and PIOs at the time of a fire to get Firewise messages out and lend national support in the form of spokespeople
    Targeting California, North Carolina, Texas and Florida
    Already implemented in Michigan successfully in May
    Working to implement in Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, North Carolina, Texas
  • Questions? Discussion?
    Thank You!
    Michele Steinberg
    Karen Lightfoot
    505-867-2334 x106