The neighboring town could have a Firewise Community, and you may not even know it. Through the new Firewise Mapper, though, communities can be viewed and tracked, along with any encroaching wildfires. NFPA recently partnered with ESRI to develop the Mapper through its Wildland Fire Operations Division. It shows the location and attributes of neighborhoods participating in the Firewise Communities/USA Recognition Program. The Geographic Information System (GIS) has been integrated with Microsoft Office in a way that allows anyone to easily explore the tool.
The Mapper includes point locations for roughly 850 active and 200 inactive Firewise Communities/USA recognition sites, with pop-up individual community profiles. Depending on the available data, one can follow the path of a fire in real-time in a given area. It has already proved an enormous help to NFPA staff in locating and reaching out to several Firewise communities that had major wildfires approaching.
To learn more about the mapping project, visit the 2012 Winter How-To newsletter.