Topic: Wildfire

A wildfire is shown burning below an airplane

Learn How Wildfire Preparedness Makes a Difference! Join Us for a Facebook Live Event April 6

Let NFPA® help you get ready for Wildfire Community Preparedness Day on May 6 by attending a Facebook Live event next Thursday, April 6, at 1 p.m. Eastern Time. I will be hosting along with our special guest, Drake Carroll (pictured at right) from the South Carolina Forestry Commission. Drake is the state’s wildfire prevention and Firewise USA® coordinator and has been working in forestry and fire since graduating from Clemson University more than 15 years ago. Most importantly, Drake has spent years working closely with communities to help them prepare for wildfire. He has helpful information to share with you about the lessons he has learned. During the event, you’ll hear from Drake about examples of wildfire preparedness activities you can do in your area on May 6. He’ll highlight the important partnerships that help the small team at his agency reach neighborhood residents. And he’ll share the story of a wildfire that occurred last spring, and how preparedness is helping to protect not only homes, but also an important community institution and the lives and safety of residents and visitors. You’ll be able to ask questions and get answers in the chat during the live event, and to review the recording after the presentation ends. It’s easy to join the event, either through Facebook’s registration process where you indicate you are “Going,” or by using our Zoom registration link. Whichever way you register, you’re sure to get valuable information and insights about wildfire preparedness that can help you have a Prep Day activity on May 6 that makes a real difference.

Take Your Community Through the Wildfire Risk Assessment Process

Firewise USA® sites across the country are working hard to improve the resistance of homes and properties within their boundaries to embers and small surface fires that can spread from a wildfire. But how do they know what messages to focus on in their outreach to community members? How do they decide which projects to prioritize? Completing a community wildfire risk assessment is one of the most important steps in the Firewise USA recognition process. The assessment serves as a tool to help residents gain an understanding of their community’s strengths and vulnerabilities by uncovering the conditions of homes and the corresponding home ignition zones within that community. Ultimately, the completion of a community wildfire risk assessment helps communities understand their wildfire risk so that they can start to engage in risk reduction efforts. An image from the Community Wildfire Risk Assessment Tutorial from NFPA shows an example of property strengths and property vulnerabilities.    The recommendations provided by the completed assessment will be the board’s or committee’s primary tool in determining the action priorities within the site’s boundaries. Luckily, the Community Wildfire Risk Assessment Tutorial from NFPA® makes starting the community wildfire risk assessment process easy. The free online tutorial walks people through the risk assessment process. Individuals who complete this tutorial will be able to: ·       Describe how fire spreads throughout a community ·       Explain how homes typically ignite from embers and low-flame surface fires ·       Identify strengths and vulnerabilities of homes and surrounding landscapes ·       Use those skills to complete their own community risk assessment ·       Develop a prioritized, multi-year action plan to reduce the community’s risk from wildfire Complete the tutorial today and help your community get started on its wildfire preparedness journey.

May 6 Is Wildfire Community Preparedness Day. What You Do Makes a Difference.

In just under two months, it will be “that time of year again”—time to prepare your home and neighborhood for wildfire! The annual Wildfire Community Preparedness Day (Prep Day) campaign has begun. For the ninth consecutive year, NFPA® and campaign cosponsor State Farm® encourage everyone to join together on the first Saturday in May for events and activities that can help make homes and communities safer from wildfire. On Saturday, May 6, 2023, people from across the United States and Canada will take part in projects that increase their safety from wildfire. Take the opportunity to defend your home ignition zone by taking simple, low-cost steps along with your neighbors.   NFPA and State Farm make it easier with a Prep Day toolkit. The toolkit is a wealth of project ideas, safety tips, promotional material, and more. While project awards are not part of the 2023 campaign, Prep Day activities bring tremendous value to your community. For instance, Prep Day work can help Firewise USA® sites meet their annual investment criteria for volunteer hours. Engaging in Prep Day can be an important first step for people who want to be safer from wildfire but aren’t sure how to begin. Use the Wildfire Community Preparedness Day Toolkit, videos, social media cards, and other wildfire safety resources at Share them with others in your community to not only make a difference in safety on Prep Day, but to make a difference all through the year as well.

Firewise USA Reaches New Milestones in 2022

Like many of you, I’m looking forward to what 2023 will bring. It’s going to be a busy year for those living in wildfire prone areas and for the practitioners who support them. But before shutting the door on 2022, I wanted to take a moment to share the outstanding achievements of communities participating in the Firewise USA® program. Hopefully, others are as inspired as I am by the dedication of these people to acknowledge the risk in their communities and to take wildfire safety into their own hands.   Overall, it was a very busy and productive year for Firewise USA participants and supporters. California achieved multiple milestones, reaching 500 communities early in the year and ending the year with over 600. Minnesota, a longstanding supporter of the program, invested in new government employees, including a state liaison who has worked to re-engage with communities that left the Firewise USA program in 2021. We also saw a push in Nevada with a new state liaison who helped bring on 22 new communities in 2022. Across the country, we saw new and existing participants embrace wildfire risk reduction as a way of living.     2022 Participation by the Numbers Total number of active Firewise USA sites at the end of 2022: 2,076 (our first time above 2,000!) Number of new Firewise sites in 2022: 285 (the largest number of new sites in one year so far!) Top states for growth: California, Oregon, Colorado, Nevada, and Arizona rounded out the top-five states for growth in 2022. In the past five years, California, in particular, has more than quadrupled its site number, from 137 in 2017 to 624 in 2022. Total number of volunteer hours worked: 2.2 million, with almost 75 percent of those hours worked at the home and home-ignition-zone levels. Focusing on these areas is critical to reducing home vulnerability to embers from a fire. Total funds invested: Over $90 million was spent on chippers, contractors, home improvement costs, and more in 2022. Combined, the volunteer hours and money spent equals over $154 million invested in making these communities more resilient to wildfires. This is amazing!  We at NFPA thank all of you and your local supporting partners for your acknowledgement of the role you play in wildfire preparedness and commitment you show to being a part of the solution. Congratulations on your continued forward progress. We cannot wait to see what you accomplish in 2023! Is your community ready to take the next step on its wildfire journey? Visit to learn how you can become a Firewise USA site.

Protect Your Home from Wildfire with Free Online Learning from NFPA

If you’re one of the millions of people living in an area where wildfires are part of the landscape, you may be wondering where to start to protect your home or business. The Reducing Wildfire Risk to Property: Protecting Your Home or Business online training course from NFPA® is the perfect first step for you to learn how to make your property more resistant to wildfire flames and embers. This free, self-paced course is available to anyone interested in understanding how wildfires spread to buildings and the steps they can take to prevent ignition and destruction. Participants can select each element of a building—roof, windows, siding, vents—to get a complete view of how fire can affect it, and what changes can be made to make the whole structure much safer. As you complete each section, you will be creating your property improvement plan, which can later be downloaded or printed for your use. In addition to having a plan of action to safeguard your home or business, the course comes with a free mobile app, NFPA Wildfire Risk Simulator, available for Apple or Android devices. The app gives you a dramatic depiction of how well—or poorly—a structure will fare when exposed to wildfire depending on its design, materials, and surrounding landscaping. Register for this interactive online course today. With only a small amount of time invested, you can start taking big steps to secure your home or business from the threat of wildfire.

Preparing Homes for Wildfire: Property Upgrades Across Neighborhoods Can Prevent Fire Losses

The Outthink Wildfire™ policy initiative from NFPA® is a bold call to action and a challenge to end the destruction of communities by wildfire. It’s a comprehensive push to address one of the gnarliest challenges we face in the fire safety arena. The gnarl factor is heightened by the fact that there are already 45 million existing US homes at risk of burning to the ground due to wildfires. At a recent policy summit, more than two dozen experts discussed what it would take to upgrade these homes to be more ignition-resistant and to improve their chances of survival. Phrases like “retrofit” and “home hardening” were used, but in the face of ever-growing wildfire threats, some may wonder if a home improvement strategy could truly be effective in stopping the trend of multi-billion-dollar disasters involving thousands of homes in a single incident. While home improvements alone will not solve the problem, individual home retrofits across neighborhoods, and scaled up across regions, can absolutely make a difference. Sixty-plus years of research, experiments, and analysis give us the confidence to say that what people do to their homes and immediate surroundings can indeed improve fire-resistance and structure survival in the face of wildfire, as described in detail by the University of California Cooperative Extension Forestry. Many of these structural improvements are simple and inexpensive, on the order of regular home maintenance. Others involve a large but infrequent investment that will pay off over time, such as roof and window replacements. The key activities appear on the NFPA preparedness checklists, in NFPA standards, in some state and local regulations, and in the new Wildfire Prepared Home designation from the Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety (IBHS). These standards and guidelines all derive from what fire safety advocates have learned from the research community over decades. What do we know about how homes burn in wildfire events? We know that burning vegetation can ignite homes in three ways: radiating heat to the structure, flames touching the structure, and burning or smoldering embers piling up on or entering the structure through openings. These three mechanisms of fire spread can all happen at the same time. The most notorious culprits in home ignition from burning vegetation are embers, also known as firebrands. These pieces of burning material pile up on roofs, in gutters, and on flat surfaces like decks. They are driven by the wind into any openings in a home, including chimneys, vents, windows, pet doors, and in the cracks under doors. They can also burn mulch and shrubs up close to the home that then ignite the structure. Homes can also ignite if any flames touch the house, porch, deck, fence, and any other structural attachments. Imagine a dry lawn or a bed of pine needles providing a continuous path for flames to travel to the vulnerable parts of your structures. Finally, if there is enough dense vegetation within 30 feet (9 meters) of a structure, it can potentially radiate enough heat to ignite the walls. But for all the damage that burning vegetation can do to homes, it’s our own human-made fuel packages, in the form of vehicles, firewood piles, outbuildings, and our homes themselves that present some of the greatest dangers and can result in the destruction of whole neighborhoods. Once the wildfire burning through the vegetation ignites one of these fuel packages, it’s arguably no longer a wildfire. It’s a conflagration where these elements burn for a long time and ignite nearby homes through radiant heat or by generating flames that touch other houses or by casting off embers that go on to ignite neighboring properties. What can we do to prepare homes for wildfires? There are a number of steps homeowners can take to prepare. 1.     Operate under a worst-case scenario. Assume firefighters cannot respond with personnel, vehicles, and water to protect your home. Keep in mind that your home safety upgrades are for when a wildfire is approaching, and you and your family have evacuated. Retrofits should be aimed at preventing the wildfire or surrounding structures from igniting your home. 2.     Minimize ignition to your home’s exterior with roof repairs or replacements, dual- or triple-paned windows, and screened vents and openings. Repair any cracks in shingles or siding, and remove ignitable material from decks and patios during times of high wildfire danger. 3.     Address the area within 5 feet (1.5 meters) of your home’s perimeter and ensure there is nothing there that can burn—mulch, shrub, wood piles, wooden attachments, and so on. 4.     Keep large fuel packages like firewood piles or vehicles 30 feet (9 meters) or more from homes at times of high fire danger. 5.     Reduce the ignitability of your yard or acreage within 30 feet (9 meters) of your home and out to your property line by landscaping with fire in mind. 6.     Work with your neighbors to reduce ignitable elements on your shared boundaries and encourage them to work with their other neighbors. These tips and more can be found on the NFPA website. As advocates for improving policy to incentivize and support home and community fire safety, NFPA and like-minded organizations continue to seek ways to accelerate the pace of home and neighborhood upgrades so we can end wildfire disasters.
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