This fall, I had the unprecedented opportunity to review and comment on a very unusual manuscript. Author Linda Masterson reached out to NFPA staff for help with her book, Surviving Wildfire. She and her husband lost their home to wildfire in the Crystal Fire near Fort Collins, Colorado, in April 2011. She wanted to write a guide to help others both minimize their risks and prepare to deal with recovery and rebuilding.
As I read the first drafts, I was immediately struck by Ms. Masterson's courage in documenting her own harrowing experience, and deeply impressed by her fortitude in conducting diligent research to get the facts about preparedness, survival and recovery. In addition to the home preparedness information she gathered (which will be familiar to proponents of Firewise and Ready, Set, Go!), she spelled out - in excruciating detail - the insurance aspects of preparedness, claims and recovery. It was enough to make me start thinking seriously about completing my home inventory for use in a possible claims situation.
While I and other NFPA staff provided supporting information, review and advice on the manuscript, Ms. Masterson's work is independent and in no way formally connected to our organization or programs. That being said, I know of no other comparable, current publication written from the homeowner perspective that brings current research and recommendations to the reader. The book is available through her publisher, on Amazon, and on her website. She also provides generous excerpts of the book on her site, as well as an array of resources on preparedness, home insurance inventory, and more.
Because of her diligent and careful research, this book is a treasure trove of useful information for any resident of an area at risk to wildfire. Even better, because she has lived through the experience, her story is compelling and heartfelt. It's my hope that her story will move people to take action to prepare and protect themselves. I think I'll spend some of my holiday downtime on that home inventory.