What is Firewise?
“Brush, grass and forest fires don’t have to be disasters. NFPA’s 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 a key component of Fire Adapted Communities – a collaborative approach that connects all those who play a role in wildfire education, planning and action with comprehensive resources to help reduce risk.
To save lives and property from wildfire, NFPA's Firewise Communities program teaches people how to adapt to living with wildfire and encourages neighbors to work together and take action now to prevent losses. We all have a role to play in protecting ourselves and each other from the risk of wildfire.” firewise.org
Every community benefits in different ways from being recognized as a Firewise Communities/USA site. Reports of these benefits have reached NFPA’s Firewise Program through the years and are summarized below in our Top Seven Benefits to Becoming Firewise:
1. Framework for Action
Meeting the criteria for becoming a Firewise Communities/USA site helps communities get organized and find direction for their wildfire safety efforts. Like the first rungs on a ladder, the criteria help get a community started toward annual, systematic action to reduce their risks from brush, grass and forest fires.
2. Learning About Wildfire
As people go through the Firewise process, they learn about wildfire risks in the community and the simple things they can do to reduce them. They connect with experts – local fire fighters, state forestry professionals, and national researchers – to continue to learn about fire and find resources to accomplish Firewise actions.
3. Peace of Mind
People who work with experts to learn about wildfire and take action start to see results quickly. Knowing that they are using the best information available and actually taking steps to reduce the risk of damage from fire helps people start to feel safer in their environment and in their homes. Having a plan for what to do in the event of a fire helps people become calmer and more prepared to act quickly.
As neighbors get together to do Firewise work, often meeting one another for the first time, they build a stronger bond with each other. Firewise activity can help rally people to a common cause for the good of the neighborhood. This strengthening of community ties can benefit residents in many ways, and is especially helpful during an emergency.
5. Citizen Pride
While Firewise work can be fun, it isn’t always easy. Neighbors work very hard in Firewise communities to remove brush and debris, clean up common areas, and dispose of green waste. They are rightly proud when they achieve national recognition for their efforts.
The national Firewise program provides communities with metal signs, a plaque and other materials that can be presented publicly to honor their status as a Firewise Communities/USA recognition site. These recognition ceremonies are great ways to shine the spotlight on community efforts. News media find this to be a great story to cover, and the national program features community stories regularly on the website and in its publications. All this publicity results not only in satisfaction for the residents involved, but also provides one more way to reach large numbers of people with information about wildfire safety.
7. Access to Funding and Assistance
Preference is sometimes given to Firewise Communities/USA sites over other candidates when allocations of grant money are made for wildfire safety or fuel mitigation. The reason is that there are invariably more requests than available funds when grants are available through state or federal agencies. If requests are equally worthy, some officials tend to have more confidence in communities that have demonstrated the foresight of becoming a recognized Firewise Communities/USA site. firewise.org
You’ve discovered you live in an area that may be at risk from brush, grass or forest fires. Want to get started on action that can make a real difference in the survival of your home during a fire? Check out our simple steps to greater safety.
The five steps of Firewise recognition
•Obtain a wildfire risk assessment as a written document from your state forestry agency or fire department.
•Form a board or committee, and create an action plan based on the assessment.
•Conduct a “Firewise Day” event.
•Invest a minimum of $2 per capita in local Firewise actions for the year.
•Submit an application to your state Firewise liaison.
To maintain the recognition status over time, communities must continue to conduct annual Firewise Day events and document their local investments.