The National Fire Protection Association’s (NFPA) Firewise Communities/USA® Recognition Program is celebrating its 10th anniversary and honoring nine original pilot sites for their continued participation and successes in reducing wildfire risks. The nine sites being honored were among the first to become involved in this volunteer community action model. The Firewise Communities/USA Recognition Program was born out of the Firewise Communities program in 2001 to give communities the opportunity to work together toward wildland fire preparedness to save lives, property and natural resources. The Firewise Communities Program was developed in the 1980’s in response to the severe property losses from brush, grass and forest fires across the country.
The following “founding” communities are celebrating their 10-year anniversaries of active participation as Firewise Communities/USA sites:
Timber Ridge in Prescott, Arizona
Genesee Foundation in Golden, Colorado
Perry Park Municipal District in Larkspur, Colorado
Wedgefield in Orlando, Florida
Wilderness Ranch in Boise, Idaho
Greater Eastern Jemez WUI Corridor in Jemez, New Mexico
Emigration Canyon in Salt Lake City, Utah
River Bluff Ranch in Spokane, Washington
“We’re proud of these trailblazers – individuals and 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 the NFPA. “This extraordinary group, by their early adoption of Firewise principles, has helped save lives, property and natural resources and are good examples to others.” Today, there are more than 700 communities in the recognition program.
In addition to featuring their success stories at www.firewise.org, community representatives will be honored with a special award at NFPA’s wildland fire education conference, Backyards and Beyond, in October.
Some examples of these communities’ pioneering efforts include:
- The neighborhood of Timber Ridge, Arizona, is adjacent to the Prescott National Forest. Pine needle cleanups and home inspections helped prevent wildfire damage. Lot thinning was key to helping mitigate wildfire damage. A subsequent wildfire burned right up to the city’s perimeter, yet no homes were lost.
- Sundance, Utah, located in the Provo Canyon, conducted a Fire Forum of national, state and local fire experts as well as homeowners. Pursuant to the forum, a safety advisory council was formed to implement fire mitigation activities. Among many other activities, Sundance created educational materials for homeowners, conducted spring and fall clean-out days and has established an early-warning phone tree and installed emergency sirens.
- River Bluff Ranch in north Spokane, Washington, was designed to be Firewise. Extensive work was performed, including removal of storm-damaged trees and other hazardous fire fuels, evaluation and enhancement of forest roads and firebreaks, and the creation of water storage and safety plans. The community was designed to include significant evacuation routes, underground facilities and codes for roofing, defensible space and vegetation maintenance.
“We encourage every community across the country, particularly those at greatest risk of wildfire, to follow the lead of these trailblazing communities. We all have a role to play in protecting ourselves and each other from the devastating effects of brush, grass and forest fires. By working together and acting now we can save lives and protect property,” said Michele Steinberg, manager of the NFPA Firewise Communities program.
To learn more about these and other successful Firewise Communities/USA sites, visit www.firewise.org. To register for NPFA’s premier wildland fire education conference, slated for Denver, Colorado, October 27-29, visit www.nfpa.org/backyardsandbeyond.