The National Fire Protection Associationâs (NFPA) Firewise Communities/USA® Recognition Program is honoring 20 official Firewise communities from 11 states who celebrate their 10-year anniversary of continued participation and successes in reducing wildfire risks. The communities became nationally recognized in 2003, and were among the earliest adopters of the Firewise Communities/USA process.
The Firewise Communities/USA Recognition Program, launched in 2002, was born out of the Firewise Communities Program to give communities the opportunity to earn recognition for working together toward wildland fire preparedness to save lives, property and natural resources. The Firewise Communities Program was developed in the 1980s in response to severe property losses from brush, grass and forest fires across the country.
The following communities are celebrating their 10-year anniversaries of active participation as Firewise Communities/USA sites:
- Holiday Island, Arkansas
- Joplin, Arkansas
- Norman, Arkansas
- Story, Arkansas
- Lakewood, Florida
- Verandah, Florida
- Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa, Minnesota
- River Run Plantation, North Carolina
- Town of St. James, North Carolina
- Village of Ruidoso, New Mexico
- Bear Creek Lakes, Pennsylvania
- Mountain Plains I & II, South Dakota
- Cumberland Cove, Tennessee
- Tierra Linda Ranch, Texas
- Wildcatter Ranch and Resort, Texas
- Chuckanut Ridge POA, Washington
- Lummi Island Scenic Estates, Washington
- Story, Wyoming
- Union Pass, Wyoming
"Weâre proud of these communities who were among the first to recognize the positive impact of collective actions to prevent wildfire damage and do something about it," said Dave Nuss, wildland fire operations division manager for NFPA. "Communities all across the U.S. -- from Pennsylvania to Wyoming, Washington to Florida -- are a part of this extraordinary group of communities whose early adoption of Firewise principles has helped save lives, property and natural resources."
Some examples of these pioneering communitiesâ efforts include:
- Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa, Minnesota is a small community northeast of Duluth, Minnesota. A recognized Firewise community since 2003, Fond du Lac holds a Firewise event day each year to remind community members about their role in wildfire mitigation. A recent fire broke out near a home where home owners had taken steps to reduce its wildfire risk using Firewise principles, and as a result, the fire was quickly contained.
- River Run Plantation, North Carolina, is located in Brunswick County about 20 miles from the border of South Carolina. Recently, they enforced a mandatory open fire ban due to the hazardous drought conditions. Community members have also advocated for adding an emergency exit on Sunset Harbor Road, which was a previous fire hazard. A recognized Firewise community since 2003, River Run Plantation has not experienced a wildfire in over 15 years.
- Mountain Plains I & II, South Dakota are located high in the hills in the southern part of the state. Surrounded by public forests and park land, it is plagued by an overgrowth of beautiful, yet highly flammable, ponderosa pine trees. To combat the problem, this recognized Firewise community annually thins the overgrowth of pines around their homes and follows Firewise principles to reduce their wildfire risk.
"We are indebted to these early adopters for taking the lead in wildfire safety, and for persevering in Firewise activities for the past decade," said Michele Steinberg, manager of the NFPA Firewise Communities Program. "Their dedicated fire and safety professionals and motivated residents have truly helped minimize wildfire risk factors, and their hard work surely has paid off."
Each community will receive a special flame-shaped glass award in honor of their long-term commitment to community wildfire safety.