Using GIS to Teach Wildfire Safety
Firewise Communities Hawaii Coordinator
Hawaii Island HIGICC Geospatial Expo
May 20, 2014
Created in 1985 by NFPA & USDA after a horrific fire
Part of the National Wildland/Urban Interface Fire
Overseen by the WUI Working Team of the National
Wildfire Coordinating Group
USDA Forest Service
Department of the Interior, National Park Service
National Fire Protection Association
US Fire Administration/FEMA
National Association of State Foresters
National: (too many to list)
American Planning Association
American Red Cross
American Society of Landscape
Community Associations Institute
Congressional Fire Services
Environmental Systems Research
Institute for Business & Home
Insurance Services Office
International Association of Fire
International Association of
Local: 80+ groups including:
Hawaii Fire Dept.
Maui County Fire Dept.
Kauai Fire Dept.
City & County of Honolulu Fire
Maui Association of Landscape
U.S. Fish & Wildfire Service
Hui O Laka, Kokee Museum
Pohakuloa Training Area, U.S.
Dept. of Hawaiian Home Lands
Hawaii Volcanoes National Park
Kona-Kohala Chamber of
Cooperators and Allies
The Firewise Goal
Homes are designed, built, and
maintained to withstand a wildfire
the intervention of the fire department.
A Vision for the Future
A Vision for the Future:
Wildland fires occur in the future without
the loss of homes and structures.
For homeowners being Firewise means:
1. Having defensible space and
2. Using fire-resistant building materials.
This house has a triple
fuel break (gravel,
3,000-acre fire in
Firewise Activities 2002-Present
‘What does Firewise do in Hawaii?”
Community Work Days
Alert Communities to Grant Opportunities
What burns? What doesn’t? Why?
with Hawaii Fire
Wildfire Hazard Assessment
Standardized method to determine a community’s risk
Part of NFPA 1144 (Appendix A)
Gives you a look at the good, the bad, and the
Why is road width
Why is vertical
Hazard assessments are important because they discover
issues that can be rectified BEFORE a fire strikes.
Firewise Communities and ESRI
Education has always been a key
element of spreading the Firewise
message about wildfire behavior and
Early on Firewise partnered with ESRI
on a national level to create standard
training model that could be used
The result was the creation of a GIS-
based model that reflects many of the
situations faced by communities across
Using a standardized model for full-day
workshops ensures consistency in
training nationwide whether training
firefighters, planners, or civilians.
Firewise workshops educate folks
about wildfire, its behavior, and how
to reduce the risk of wildfire to their
home and community.
A key part of this training is learning
how to conduct a wildfire hazard
assessment (part of NFPA 1142, a
By using the GIS-based maps and
tools, participants learn about
These workshops are usually the
first time participants have ever
heard of GIS, never mind using it.
Using GIS to teach fire safety &
GIS as a learning tool:
multiple data layers enable non-
technical people to easily grasp the
importance of wildfire safety on an
individual and community level.
* Learn how to reduce wildfire risks as
well as identify them.
The importance of
People understand the
importance of planning
with fire safety in mind
and learn strategies to
reduce their risk.
Why is Firewise important?
Being Firewise saves lives and homes.
The Waikoloa Firewise committee held a regularly scheduled community work
day and cleared the fuel break just 3 WEEKS before this 2005 fire. The cleared
fuel break is credited with preventing the 25,000 acre wildfire from spreading
into the community.
(Extra credit: Any idea why this picture represents
completely backward planning?)
For more info:
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