NFPA celebrates 15th anniversary of Firewise Communities Program; honors nine pilot communities for their continued wildfire risk reduction activities

FirewisebannerDecember 1, 2016 – The National Fire Protection Association’s (NFPA) Firewise Communities/USA® Recognition Program is celebrating its 15th anniversary and honoring nine of its original pilot sites for their continued participation and successes in reducing wildfire risks.

The nine sites being honored are among the first participants in the program’s volunteer grassroots local risk reduction model. In 2002, Firewise Communities/USA was launched as a program that provided an opportunity for residents to work collaboratively with state forestry agencies and fire departments to reduce wildfire risks and increase their overall preparedness for future wildfires. Today, there are nearly 1,400 communities in 39 states participating in the recognition program.

The following “founding” communities, representing seven states, are celebrating their 15-year milestone of active participation as Firewise Communities/USA sites. Each has garnered significant achievements that make their community a safer place to live:

  • Timber Ridge in Prescott, Arizona
  • Genesee Foundation in Golden, Colorado
  • Perry Park in Larkspur, Colorado
  • Wedgefield in Orlando, Florida
  • Wilderness Ranch in Boise, Idaho
  • Greater Eastern Jemez WUI Corridor in Jemez Springs, New Mexico
  • Emigration Canyon in Salt Lake City, Utah
  • Sundance in Provo Canyon, Utah
  • River Bluff Ranch in Spokane, Washington

“We’re proud of these trailblazers – individuals and communities who not only were among the first to recognize the positive impact of collective actions to prevent wildfire damage, but who came together to work on projects to reduce their wildfire risk,” said Michele Steinberg, manager of NFPA’s Wildfire Division.  “This extraordinary group, by their early adoption of Firewise principles, has helped protect property and natural resources, and serves as good role models to others.”

Examples of these communities’ pioneering efforts include:

  • Adjacent to the Prescott National Forest, the neighborhood of Timber Ridge, Arizona, has worked tirelessly to help prevent wildfire damage, including implementing pine needle cleanups, home inspections and lot-thinning. In May of 2002, a wildfire burned right up to the city’s perimeter, yet no homes were lost.
  • Sundance, Utah, located in the Provo Canyon, implemented a fire forum of national, state and local fire experts as well as homeowners. They also instituted a safety advisory council to implement fire mitigation activities. Among these, Sundance created educational materials for homeowners, conducted spring and fall clean-out days, established an early-warning phone tree, and installed emergency sirens.
  • River Bluff Ranch in North Spokane, Washington was designed with Firewise in mind. Work over the years has included the removal of storm-damaged trees and other hazardous fire fuels. They’ve conducted an evaluation and enhanced forest roads and firebreaks, and created water storage and safety plans. Significant evacuation routes, underground facilities and codes for roofing, defensible space and vegetation maintenance have also been part of the design.

“We encourage every community across the country, particularly those at greatest risk of wildfire, to follow the lead of these pioneer communities. Residents have a role and a responsibility in reducing the impact of brush, grass and forest fires. Working together and preparing ahead of a wildfire increases safety for both residents and firefighters, and improves a home’s chances of survival,” said Cathy Prudhomme, manager of NFPA’s Firewise program.

Visit the Firewise website to learn more about these and other successful Firewise Communities/USA sites. Additional resources, including safety tips, videos, checklists and more, can also be found. 

For this release and other announcements about NFPA initiatives, research and resources, please visit the NFPA press room.

About Firewise
The Firewise Communities Program encourages local solutions for safety by involving homeowners in taking individual responsibility for preparing their homes from the risk of wildfire. 

About the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA)
Founded in 1896, NFPA is a global, nonprofit organization devoted to eliminating death, injury, property and economic loss due to fire, electrical and related hazards. The association delivers information and knowledge through more than 300 consensus codes and standards, research, training, education, outreach and advocacy; and by partnering with others who share an interest in furthering the NFPA mission. For more information visit www.nfpa.org. All NFPA codes and standards can be viewed online for free at www.nfpa.org/freeaccess. 

Contact: Lorraine Carli, Public Affairs Office: +1 617 984-7275