January 16, 2012 – The National Fire Protection Association’s (NFPA) Firewise® Communities Program today announced its new national wildfire safety challenge for communities. The “1,000 Safer Places: Firewise Communities/USA® Recognition Program Challenge” encourages residents across the country to take steps to combat the threat of wildfire and reduce the damage fire can do to homes and property.
Preparedness for wildfire is needed now more than ever. The U.S. has more than 70,000 communities at risk from wildfire. During 2012, more than 9.1 million acres burned, according to the National Interagency Fire Center (NIFC), the third highest annual total since 1960, when records were first kept. With continued increased drought conditions and high temperatures predicted for 2013, the risk of wildfire continues to increase for many communities across the country.
To take part in the Challenge, communities will follow the steps outlined by the Firewise Communities/USA Recognition Program and submit a final application. Once the application is approved by NFPA, communities will officially be recognized as Firewise Communities/USA sites and automatically entered into the Challenge. Communities already part of the program simply conduct their annual wildfire safety activities and report on their status.
The year-long campaign runs January 1, 2013 through December 31, 2013. Recognized communities in states with the most participation will have the chance to win prizes, including tools and funding to help residents work on ways to minimize wildfire hazards.
The criteria for program recognition are:
- Obtain a wildfire risk assessment as a written document from your state forestry agency, fire department or other designated or capable entity.
- Form a board or committee, and create an action plan based on the assessment.
- Conduct a “Firewise Day” event, which can include a “chipper day,” a state or community fair exhibit, a community clean-up day or door-to-door outreach.
- Invest a minimum of $2 per capita (i.e. volunteer hours) in local Firewise actions for the year.
- Submit an application to the state Firewise liaison.
“More than 800 communities across 40 states have already received Firewise designation demonstrating residents’ commitment to take action toward preventing wildfire damage in their area,” said Michele Steinberg, NFPA’s Firewise Communities program manager. “The Firewise Challenge is another great way we hope to engage homeowners to take simple steps to reduce the threat of wildfire and the damage it can cause.”
Details about the Challenge, and additional resources that can help guide residents through the recognition program process, can be found on the Firewise Communities/USA Recognition Program or “contact us” pages of the Firewise website, or by contacting the Wildland Fire Operations Division at +1 617 984-7486.
The Firewise Communities Program encourages local solutions for safety by involving homeowners in taking individual responsibility for preparing their homes from the risk of wildfire. Firewise is one element of the Fire Adapted Communities initiative – a national effort that engages homeowners, firefighters, civic leaders and land managers to reduce wildfire risk in communities throughout the United States. The Firewise Communities Program and the Fire Adapted Communities initiative are sponsored by the National Fire Protection Association and USDA Forest Service.
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. NFPA develops more than 300 codes and standards to minimize the possibility and effects of fire and other hazards. All NFPA codes and standards can be viewed at no cost at www.nfpa.org/freeaccess.