Another Wildfire Community Preparedness Day Is in the Books
On Saturday, May 6, communities across the country came together in different ways to get ready for wildfires. Some focused on outreach, hosting wildfire education or safety days, sharing information, and creating a space to ask questions and get advice. Other communities organized work projects and hosted potlucks to celebrate their hard work. No matter how you participated, we applaud your efforts and encourage you to keep it going! On this year’s Wildfire Prep Day, I had the opportunity to visit Reflection Lake, a Firewise USA® and Wildfire Ready Neighbors community located in eastern Washington, a little north of Spokane. While the weather was a little gloomy—overcast with intervals of rain—spirits were high. IN HIGH SPIRITS Megan Fitzgerald-McGowan (right), who manages the Firewise USA® program at NFPA®, joined community leaders in Reflection Lake, Washington, Saturday, May 6, as the community celebrated Wildfire Community Preparedness Day. Photo by Megan Fitzgerald-McGowan The community had a variety of things going on. Some people cleaned up pine needles and other debris in parks or on lakefront areas. There was a large group of people feeding a burn pile near a beach where trees had been dropped, clearing out an access road and removing a hazard below homes (all local burn regulations were followed). A couple of residents helped a neighbor by cutting up and removing trees that had been dropped and that the homeowner couldn’t clean up. During the tour conducted by my hosts, we encountered other homeowners who were inspired by the organized Prep Day activities to clean up their properties, raking needles and leaves, pruning trees, and picking up downed debris. Thanks to a grant provided by the Washington State Department of Natural Resources (WA DNR), the community had brought in two roll-off dumpsters—one for garbage and one for green waste, making it easier for folks to act. It was so nice to meet with different community members and hear about the support they get from Firewise USA and WA DNR, and what it means to them. There was a lot of pride—rightfully so—in the different projects they’ve completed over the past five years and hopefulness in moving forward. READYING REFLECTION LAKE Reflection Lake residents marked Wildfire Prep Day 2023 in part by clearing and burning debris. Photo by Megan Fitzgerald-McGowan Like so many communities across the country, Reflection Lake is trying to change a community that was built many years ago, without wildfire in mind. Leveraging their funds with grants from DNR, they have removed abandoned structures that presented a hazard, opened up access roads for responders, thinned out tree stands, and pushed homeowners to take actions on their homes and property. I look forward to hearing more as they continue on their wildfire journey and hope to visit again. It was such a beautiful area. While Wildfire Community Preparedness Day 2023 is officially over, the need for action remains. Wildfires can happen at any time and communities need to stay ready. Use the resources available for free on wildfireprepday.org to guide your individual and community risk reduction strategies year round.