The National Fire Protection Association’s (NFPA) Firewise Communities Program today reached a milestone in announcing the 700th community to earn recognition as a Firewise Communities/USA site.
Robin Hood Loop in Forks, Washington is the latest neighborhood to take action to improve residents’ safety from threats posed by brush, grass and forest fires.
Initiated in 2002 with 12 pilot neighborhoods, the national Firewise Communities/USA Recognition Program now boasts active member communities in 40 states, as well as a participation retention rate of 80 percent over the past decade.
“Robin Hood Loop is a great example of a neighborhood that is committed to playing a role in their own wildfire safety. Folks made the choice to live in the deep forest and becoming a Firewise Community is a major step in being better prepared for wildfire,” said Bryan Suslick, Washington State Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Training and Prevention Coordinator.
“This is also an important message to other residents: you don’t have to live in a gravel parking lot to add defensible space to your property. The changes we’ve made are subtle but impactful, replacing shake roofs with asphalt shingles and clearing forest debris. We’ve maintained the community aesthetic but improved our readiness for the day we have to defend the community from wildfire,” said Suslick.
Robin Hood Loop is a five acre community nestled in a heavily forested and actively harvested setting adjacent to private timberlands. The closed canopy of Douglas fir, western hemlock, western red cedar, red alder and big leaf maple makes the community especially vulnerable to wildfires that may spread through tree-tops. There are also substantial loads of dense brush and downed forest material that can act as tinder for wildfire.
“Firewise teaches people how to adapt to living with wildfire,” said Michele Steinberg, manager of the NFPA Firewise Communities program. “Using the voluntary Firewise Communities/USA process, everyone in the community can play a role in protecting themselves and others. It provides people with real steps they can take to reduce potential damage.”
In addition to Robin Hood Loop,more than 180 new Firewise Communities have been added in the past year in the following states:
- New Jersey
- North Carolina
- South Carolina
Steps to Firewise Certification:
Enlist a wildland/urban interface specialist to complete a community assessment and create a plan that identifies agreed-upon achievable solutions to be implemented by the community. A local Firewise liaison can help with identifying a specialist in your area.
- Sponsor a local Firewise Task Force Committee, Commission or Department, which maintains the Firewise Communities/USA program and tracks its progress.
- Observe a Firewise Communities/USA Day each year that is dedicated to a local Firewise project.
- Invest a minimum of $2.00 per capita (through volunteer hours, in-kind services or grants) annually in local Firewise projects.
- Submit an annual report to Firewise Communities/USA that documents continuing compliance with the program.
The Firewise Communities Program encourages local solutions for wildfire safety by involving homeowners, community leaders, planners, developers, firefighters and others in creating fire-adapted communities – places where people and property are safer from the risk of brush, grass and forest fires. The program is co-sponsored by the USDA Forest Service, the US Department of the Interior and the National Association of State Foresters. For more information, visit www.firewise.org.
About the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA)
NFPA is a worldwide leader in fire, electrical, building, and life safety. The mission of the international nonprofit organization founded in 1896 is to reduce the worldwide burden of fire and other hazards on the quality of life by providing and advocating consensus codes and standards, research, training, and education. Visit NFPA’s website at www.nfpa.org for more information.