Neighborhoods in 40 states earn recognition for wildfire safety action

December 2, 2010 The National Fire Protection Association’s (NFPA’s) Firewise Communities program today reached a milestone in announcing its 600th community, Elk Falls Ranch near Conifer, Colorado.

In total, 643 communities have committed to take sustained action to improve their own safety. Initiated in 2002 with a handful of neighborhoods, the Firewise Communities/USA® Recognition Program now boasts member communities in 40 states, as well as a participation retention rate of 90 percent.

“Being Firewise is the first step to improve our wildfire readiness,” said Joe Page, Elk Creek Fire Protection District training officer representing Elk Falls Ranch. “One of the beautiful things about Firewise is that you can start small and expand the program to fit your community’s needs. Earning Firewise recognition — especially at this 600th community milestone — is a reward for Elk Falls Ranch starting the process. We haven’t met our goal, our work is not done but it’s really about homeowners taking responsibility for their property,” said Page.

Elk Falls Ranch is particularly at risk for wildfire damage. The community is in close proximity to six wildfire sites where 166,950 acres have burned since 1996. It is also surrounded by Staunton State Park on three sides and has just one road providing access to the community of 144 homes amidst thick vegetation.

“Firewise is nearer than ever to accomplishing its goal of national program participation and the continued growth and retention of Firewise Communities underscores how successful the program is,” said Michele Steinberg, manager of the NFPA Firewise Communities program. “We expect Firewise to continue meeting annual milestones with NFPA’s continued support and the commitment of our partners.”

In addition to Elk Falls Ranch in Colorado, nearly 100 new Firewise Communities have been added this past year between the following states:

  • Alabama
  • Arizona
  • Arkansas
  • California
  • Florida
  • Georgia
  • Idaho
  • Kentucky
  • Missouri
  • Montana
  • Nevada
  • Oklahoma
  • Oregon
  • South Carolina
  • Tennessee
  • Texas
  • Utah
  • Washington
  • Wisconsin

A complete list of Firewise Communities is available here.

Steps to Firewise Certification:

  • Enlist a wildland/urban interface specialist to complete a community assessment and create a plan that identifies agreed-upon achievable solutions to be implemented by the community.
  • Sponsor a local Firewise Task Force Committee, Commission or Department which maintains the Firewise Communities/USA program and tracks its progress.
  • Observe a Firewise Communities/USA Day each year that is dedicated to a local Firewise project.
  • Invest a minimum of $2.00 per capita annually in local Firewise projects.
  • Submit an annual report to Firewise Communities/USA that documents continuing compliance with the program.

Visit the Firewise Communities/USA website to find out more about how local communities can begin the assessment process.

For more information, contact Lorraine Carli at +1 617 984-7275.

About Firewise
FirewiseThe National Fire Protection Association’s Firewise Communities program encourages local solutions for wildfire safety by involving homeowners, community leaders, planners, developers, firefighters, and others in the effort to protect people and property from the risk of wildfire. The program is co-sponsored by the USDA Forest Service, the US Department of the Interior, and the National Association of State Foresters. For more information, visit www.firewise.org.

About the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA)
NFPA is a worldwide leader in providing fire, electrical, building, and life safety to the public since 1896. The mission of the international nonprofit organization is to reduce the worldwide burden of fire and other hazards on the quality of life by providing and advocating consensus codes and standards, research, training, and education.

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Media Contact: Lorraine Carli, +1 617 984-7275
Program Contact: Michele Steinberg, +1 617 984-7487

NFPA (National Fire Protection Association)
1 Batterymarch Park, Quincy, MA 02169-7471 USA
Telephone: +1 617 770-3000 Fax: +1 617 770-0700