The community of Jester Estates, located in Austin, TX, was recently recognized for becoming a Firewise Community in 2013. Nick Harrison, Firewise Coordinator for the Texas A&M Forest Service made the presentation. The community was provided with the NFPA Firewise Communities Plaque, Firewise street signs and a framed Texas Firewise flag during their Annual Homeowners Association meeting in February, members of the Firewise Committee and the Austin Fire Department Wildfire Division staff and residents were in attendance.
Image: Jester Estates Firewise Rocognition Ceremony with members of their Firewise Committee, the Austin Fire Department Wildfire Division, and Texas A&M Forest Service.
The recognition ceremony was also held during Jester Estates Annual Weeklong “30-feet for Fire Safety – 2014” event. This event is designed to get homeowners involved in protecting their home from wildfire. In order to participate (and get their yard waste picked up during this special event) residents must register their property and get a Wildfire Preparedness Assessment Completed. Of the 900 homes in Jester Estates, the Firewise Committee has performed HIZ Assessments on over 150 homes.
Jester Estates has held two community cleanup events in the past year, including this event, resulting in the removal of over 100 tons of defensible space slash. Several articles have been included in the neighborhood newsletter chronicling their community’s Firewise program since it began over a year ago.
Jester Estates has plans to participate in the Austin Firewise Alliance and is also supporting the May 3rd Wildfire Community Preparedness Day Workshop that is currently being planned in support of existing and potential Firewise Communities in the area.
According to Jeff Shapiro, Firewise Chair, “Jester is a wonderful community that is surrounded by the Balcones Canyonlands Preserve, which adds tremendous beauty to our neighborhood and which our residents greatly value.” By becoming a Firewise community, we have acknowledged that:
“Becoming Firewise has also given us a unique and personal partnership with the City of Austin, and particularly the Austin Fire Department (AFD), the Texas A&M Forest Service (TFS), and the agencies responsible for protecting the Balcones preserve”, commented Mr. Shapiro.
Harry Evans, Chief of Staff, Austin Fire Department stated, “It is an honor to work with you (Jeff Shapiro and the Jester Estates Firewise Committee). Because of your leadership, you have set the standard. Jester is complicated because of the Balcones Canyonlands Preserve and habitat, in addition to the vegetation and terrain. You have shown that in spite of all those challenges, a balance can be achieved to keep the environment and habitat, healthy and at the same time make your homes more ignition resistant. Well done sir… “
“It was really great to have you all in attendance this evening. Jester’s partnership with AFD and TFS is greatly valued by me personally and by the neighborhood as a whole. Celebrations don’t mean much unless there’s a group of friends to share it with, and having you all there made this a very memorable and special event,” said Jeff Shapiro, Jester Estates Firewise Chair.
Nick Harrison, (TFS) agrees, “Jester Estates has embraced the Firewise concept and has brought together a dynamic group to form its Firewise Committee and has rallied their residents to get involved to protect their homes and their community and also built cooperative partnerships with the preserve and wildland fire agencies.”
Story provided courtesy of Nick Harrison, Firewise Coordinator, Texas A&M Forest Service.
Over the past five weeks, I watched as entries for the nationwide Wildfire Community Preparedness Day project funding awards grew to represent twenty five states ranging from Florida to Alaska. Each project entry had the potential to become a recipient of $500 to be used for a preparedness related activity implemented on May 3, 2014 - with funding generously provided by State Farm.
Every single project submission had its own distinct merits and each would make a significant contribution in reducing the wildfire risk in their respective communities. The diverse range and scope of entries made the selection process extremely difficult and trying to narrow it down to only twenty was daunting.
Winning project recipients come from 15 states and cover an extremely wide range of demographics, community sizes and wildland/urban interface descriptions.
If I can please get a drum roll, let me say that on behalf of NFPA and State Farm, I am honored to share with you the 2014 Wildfire Preparedness Day funding award recipients: Fallbrook, CA; Quincy, CA; Valley Center, CA; Durango, CO; Chickamauga, GA; Kamuela, HI; Manhattan, KS; Nye, MT; Newcomerstown, OH; Brent, OK; Grants Pass, OR; La Pine, OR; North Myrtle Beach, SC; Tallassee, TN; Austin TX; Georgetown, TX; Etlan, VA; Castle Valley, UT; Ronald, WA and Spokane, WA.
Huge congratulations to them all!
The nationwide grassroots efforts being coordinated for Wildfire Community Preparedness Day demonstrates the efforts thousands of communities are committed to making in reducing their wildfire risk, the impacts of a recent wildfire, or advancing preparedness efforts.
Posted by Cathy Prudhomme on 04/01/2014 at 10:55 AM in California, Colorado, Community Action, Contests, Fire Adapted Communities, Firewise, Georgia, Homeowner Association, Mitigation, Montana, NFPA, Oregon, Success Stories, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Wildfire Hazards, Wildland Urban Interface | Permalink | Comments (0)
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For many of us, April marks the start of the spring cleaning season and we all know what that means: swap out woolens and gloves for linens and t-shirts; clean out closets and store the skates and skis in the basement and make room in the garage for the rake and garden tools.
For the next few months, why not include some wildfire safety activities in your spring cleaning repetoire. Did you know that many of the simple tasks you'll do around your home in preparation for the warm months ahead, can also help keep your home safer from wildfire?
Consider the following:
* CLEARING leaves and other vegetative debris from roofs, gutters, porches and decks helps prevent embers from igniting your home.
* KEEPING your lawn hydrated and maintained reduces fire intensity. Dry grass and shrubs are fuel for wildfire.
* SCREENING in areas below patios and decks with wire mesh prevents debris and combustible materials from accumulating.
NFPA has a number of helpful, easy tasks you and your family can undertake now and throughout the spring. Download our newest wildfire safety tips sheet and Firewise toolkit for the tips above and more, and start working on those projects today. Feeling ambitious? Our tips for creating more defensible space around your property is the perfect starting point for all that you need to accomplish. Check them all out!
And don't forget, the warm weather means we'll be spending more time outside. Take a moment to talk to you neighbors about how you can all work together to reduce wildfire risk in your neighborhood. The Firewise Communities Program website has plenty of resources, tools and materials to help you get started.
Once you've engaged your neighbors, reach out to others in your community. Learn how everyone plays a role in creating a safer and more fire adapted place to live. Firefighters and other first responders, planners, builders, landscapers and even community leaders all have a responsibility for helping protect their area. You can learn more about how to start a dialogue with members of your community by visiting the Fire Adapted Communities website.
If you're like me, I know you can't wait to finally get outside and enjoy all that Mother Nature has to offer. So take advantage of the warm, sunny weather to awaken your spirits, and at the same time, help keep you and your family wildfire safe!
Posted by LisaMarie Sinatra on 04/01/2014 at 10:00 AM in Community Action, Environment, Fire Adapted Communities, Firewise, Homeowner Association, Mitigation, NFPA, Weather and Predictive Services, Wildfire Hazards, wildland firefighter, Wildland Urban Interface | Permalink | Comments (0)
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Soon after the June 2013 Black Forest Fire (the most destructive fire in Colorado’s history) took two lives, destroyed 486 homes and burned more than 14,000 acres of ponderosa pine forest, area stakeholders began work on a collaborative visual learning tool for residents in their combined jurisdictions. The video’s objective was to visually communicate the need for increased and continuous wildfire mitigation that reduces the risk from future fires.
The immense power and importance of community-wide mitigation is highlighted and reiterated throughout the thirteen minute video "Protecting Our Homes, Our Firefighters and Our Forests." Firefighters, homeowners and wildfire risk reduction advocates provide moving testimonials and success stories that will resonate with WUI residents everywhere. The video will be used by fire departments in the Black Forest and surrounding areas to educate and motivate residents about the importance of proactive mitigation in making the places where they live safer for both residents and responding firefighters; along with the benefits and value it provides as a means for preserving a wildland-urban lifestyle, the environment and their financial investment.
This video has relevancy for everyone that lives in an area with a wildfire risk and provides vivid examples that reinforce the importance and need for community members at all levels to work together in reducing their risk. The video is short and impactful and makes an excellent addition to presentations from fire departments, homeowner associations, insurance companies and elected officials.
Posted by Cathy Prudhomme on 01/21/2014 at 01:59 PM in Colorado, Community Action, Education, Fire Adapted Communities, Firewise, Homeowner Association, Mitigation, Success Stories, Wildfire Hazards, wildland firefighter, Wildland Urban Interface | Permalink | Comments (0)
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During a special ceremony on Tuesday, December 3, at 1 p.m., Kohala by the Sea, a homeowners association on the Big Island of Hawaii, was presented with a special recognition award for maintaining their Firewise Communities/USA status for 10 years. There are only 34 communities nationwide that have been recognized with this prestigious honor in 2013. Community representatives, the Hawaii Fire Department Chief, Darren Rosario, and Denise Laitinen, the Firewise Communities Coordinator for the State of Hawaii were present to accept the award as well as recognition for their outstanding efforts from legislative representatives.
“The Hawaii Fire Department is proud of the Kohala By The Sea community for achieving national recognition for their efforts to protect their community from the potential devastating effects of wildfires,” said Fire Chief Darren Rosario.
“It’s important for communities to become Firewise for several reasons. The KBTS community and its neighbors were victims of serious fires in the early 1990s. It’s with their effort to be Firewise that I can proudly say as fire chief, it has made a difference.”
The program adapts especially well to small communities, developments, and homeowner associations of all types, says Denise Laitinen, the Firewise Communities Hawaii Coordinator. “The residents of Kohala By The Sea recognized that they live in a high fire hazard area and used a variety of free Firewise resources to reduce their threat to wildfires,” says Laitinen.
Kohala by the Sea had initially achieved national recognition by NFPA's Firewise Communities/USA program in December of 2003 and has renewed their recognition status every year for 10 years. They realize the importance of working together with direction from their Fire Department and Denise Laitinen to make improvements to their homes and surrounding landscape.
Is your community a Firewise Community and if so have you completed your renewal process to maintain that status? Working together like Kohala by the Sea year after year allows a community to continue to improve their outcome in the event of a wildfire! To Kohala by the Sea and their partners we say Mahalo (Thank you)!
Posted by Faith Berry on 12/10/2013 at 08:05 AM in Community Action, Current Affairs, Evacuation Planning, Firewise, Homeowner Association, NFPA, Success Stories, Wildfire Hazards, Wildland Urban Interface | Permalink | Comments (0)
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Mount Laguna is a community in San Diego, CA with a population of 57 permanent residents and about 150 part time residents. The community is located in east San Diego County at an elevation of 6,000'. The community has been designated a high risk community to wildfires. This last summer the Chariot Fire consumed about 4,700 acres and burned through part of the community and destroyed the historic Shrine Camp.
The community began the process of becoming a recognized Firewise Community before the 2013 fire and continued the process afterwards. They hosted a picnic which was attended by 90 people almost 50% of the population of the community. Chief Clay Howe a BLM representative attended this event and assisted residents hosting the picnic with a home ignition zone assessment. The assessment was also helpful for neighboring homeowners who also participated. The community assessment was completed with the assistance of Jason Kraelig US Forest Service Battalion Chief. The community is working hard to implement action items that were identified in the assessment. Because they were already a fire safe council the process of becoming a recognized Firewise Community was much easier. Is your community Firewise? It's not too late to get your application submitted by December 31.
With little more than a month to go before the end of the year, the 1,000 Safer Places: The Firewise Communities/USA Recognition Program Challenge is quickly coming to a close.
Are you a recognized community that needs to renew your status but just haven't gotten around to filling out your application? Well, now's the time to get that paperwork done if you want to be included in our 2013 numbers!
Maybe you're hesitant about the steps involved? Well, fear no more! Firewise makes the process even easier now with its enhanced online renewal process feature. Check it out here! Not only can you renew your status online, but you can also review detailed information about your community, and make edits and updates to your community profile. More of a paper person? We've got that covered, too. Download our paper application and follow the simple instructions. It's that easy!
Being Firewise means your neighborhood is making great strides to lower its wildfire risk! And what better New Year's gift to give yourself and your neighbors than the gift of safety! And don't forget, as an added, awesome bonus, by renewing your status now, you're eligible to win great prizes next year to help further your wildfire safety activities. So what are you waiting for, Firewise communities...
Posted by LisaMarie Sinatra on 11/21/2013 at 10:00 AM in Community Action, Fire Adapted Communities, Firewise, Homeowner Association, Mitigation, NFPA, Wildfire Hazards, Wildland Urban Interface | Permalink | Comments (0)
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At a Friday afternoon session here at Backyards & Beyond, Ryan Babcock, the Open Space Manager for the Genesee Foundation Homeowners Association and also a member of the Genesee Fire and Rescue talked about the successes and challenges the Genesee community has faced over the past 11 years.
As a recognized Firewise community since 2001, Ryan explained in detail how they've overcome some of their hurdles and how other communities can learn from their success as they chart their own course to becoming Firewise!
Posted by Faith Berry on 11/15/2013 at 07:14 PM in Backyards & Beyond Conference, Community Action, Conferences, Firewise, Homeowner Association, Mitigation, NFPA, Wildfire Hazards, Wildland Urban Interface | Permalink | Comments (0)
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In one of the Friday morning sessions here at the Backyards & Beyond conference, Faith Berry, NFPA's southwest regional Firewise advisor, talked to an engaged and interested audience about three critical wildfire safety assessments: a Community Wildfire Protection Plan (CWPP), a Firewise Communities neighborhood assessment and a home assesment. In her discussion, Faith not only talked about the different components of each, but also, how they work together in creating a larger fire adapted community. In Faith's words, by changing the character of a home ignition zone, you may save a structure. By modifying a community's ignition zone, you have the opportunity for altering the path of a wildfire for the entire area.
The takeaway: by addressing wildfire at all scales and collaborating with more people on these assessments, your plans will be better written, more people will understand the problem and their risk, and ultimately, given this great information, they will be moved to action.
Find additional resources on the NFPA wildfire webpage regarding the home ignition zone and CWPPs. You can also find information about NFPA's HIZ workshops that may be in your area. If you need additional help, Faith, along with our five additional NFPA Firewise regional advisors are happy to answer any questions you may have and provide additional resources as you need them.
Posted by LisaMarie Sinatra on 11/15/2013 at 12:34 PM in Backyards & Beyond Conference, Fire Adapted Communities, Firewise, Homeowner Association, Mitigation, NFPA, Utah, Wildfire Hazards | Permalink | Comments (0)
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