During the past century, America’s population nearly tripled, with much of the growth . owing into rural areas. This trend has created a patchwork of development and open land known as the "wildland/urban interface," where lives, property, and natural resources are at greater risk from wildland . re. More than 30,000 homes and other structures have been destroyed by wildfires since 1970.
Firewise Communities is a national initiative that encourages homeowners, community leaders, planners, developers, and others to act before a ﬁre starts by designing, building, and maintaining ﬁre resistant properties. It is an outgrowth of the National Fire Plan, which was released in 2000 after an especially severe ﬁre season.
Examples of Key Partners
National Association of State Foresters (NASF), International Association of Fire Chiefs, National Association of State Fire Marshals, National Emergency Management Association, National Fire Protection Association, USDA Forest Service, USDI Bureau of Indian Affairs, USDI Bureau of Land Management, USDI Fish and Wildlife Service, USDI National Park Service, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), Society of American Foresters, and the U.S. Fire Administration.
Results and Accomplishments
The centerpiece of the Firewise Communities Program is its community workshops. Wildland fire staffs from federal, state, or local agencies work directly with communities, providing information tailored to the specific locale. Workshops help community leaders and fire service professionals recognize wildland/urban interface fire hazards, make homes and landscapes safer, educate residents, and incorporate Firewise planning into existing and new developments. Workshops feature interactive discussions, mapping, and wildfire simulations. As part of the program, the community assesses its risk, creates a network of cooperating homeowners, agencies, and organizations, and identifies and implements its own solutions. The program works especially well with small communities, developments, and neighborhood associations.
Since 1999, more than 3,000 people have attended Firewise Community Workshops, many of whom have gone on to sponsor their own local or regional workshops using materials supplied by the program.
In addition to its workshops, the Firewise program has an educational website with extensive information for homeowners, communities, and professional firefighters. Website visitors can view streaming video, download documents, browse its extensive links, and use a searchable library of national, state, and local documents on a wide range of wildland fire safety issues.
The Firewise Communities program is continuously developing new information, including a newsletter, landscaping and home construction checklists, mini-documentaries, CD-ROMs, school education projects, and more.