The National Fire Protection Association’s (NFPA) Firewise® Communities Program has reached a milestone in announcing the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colorado is the first military installation to earn recognition as a Firewise Communities/USA® site. The Academy has completed the required Firewise Communities/USA Recognition Program criteria for their base housing units so that members of the military and their families are safer from threats posed by brush, grass and forest fires.
Previous wildfires on and near the Academy have disrupted training exercises, and resulted in the closure and evacuation of residents and employees. Each year many small fires occur from lightning strikes, training exercises or arson. With the help of the U.S. Air Force Natural Resources Department, Fire and Emergency Services and U.S. Fish and Wildlife, the Academy has been reducing fuels next to homes and structures for more than a decade, including the historic Cadet Lodge and Scout Huts, a favorite meeting place for cadets, staff and Boy Scout troops. Efforts to create a fire resilient military community are on-going.
“Our volunteer Firewise Communities/USA program helps communities get started and find direction for their wildfire safety efforts,” said Cathy Prudhomme, manager of the NFPA Firewise Communities Program. “The Air Force Academy is taking the necessary steps to reduce their wildfire risk and make members of the military and their families safer. The Academy has really paved the way for more military bases to participate in Firewise efforts in their housing developments.”
Each year, hundreds of acres of the Academy receive fuels reduction treatment near the base housing areas through mechanical or manual treatments, and in some cases using prescribed fire. Additional actions have included creating fuel breaks along roads, bridges and boundaries, and thinning forests to increase their survivability in the event of a wildfire. The Academy also provides education to residents about fire safety and preparation.
The Firewise program, launched in 2002 in collaboration with state forestry officials across the nation, encourages local solutions for safety by teaching residents how to take individual responsibility for preparing their homes from the risk of wildfire, and provides an important opportunity for neighbors to help neighbors toward a common safety goal.
For more information about the Firewise Communities/USA Recognition Program, visit the Firewise website at www.firewise.org or contact NFPA’s Wildland Fire Operations Division.