Getting Ready for the 2023 Firewise USA Renewal Application
Did you know that being recognized by the Firewise USA® program requires annual commitment to action? Each year, participating communities engage in educational outreach and science-based risk reduction within their boundaries. This annual work improves the overall condition of homes and properties, increasing the odds of withstanding a wildfire. Firewise USA sites share the work they’ve done through the annual renewal application, found on the Firewise USA portal. This sharing keeps them in good standing for the next calendar year. For 2023, renewal applications are due Friday, November 17, and can be started now. (Please note: Sites that became recognized for the first time in 2023 do not need to renew this year.) Ready to start your renewal application? Here are some tips to help you along the process. Logging into the system The renewal application is online, and you will need to log in to get to your community profile. Make sure you can log in at portal.firewise.org. If you forget your password, you can use the “Forgot your password?” link underneath the log-in button—make sure to check your spam or junk folder if you don't receive anything. If you are continuing to have trouble, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Filling out the application Contact information: Make sure we have the correct physical address for shipping any program materials to. Typically, this is updated when a new resident leader takes over guiding a community. Overview: This section allows for a couple of important updates. Adding another resident leader: Have someone else who wants to help share the job of resident leader? You can give them access to the portal through the “Manage Contacts” button. You can add a resident leader by inputting their email address. If they don’t already have an account set up, the system will send them an email inviting them to set up an account. Updating dwelling unit count: Did your community expand or shrink its footprint? Update your dwelling unit count to accurately reflect your community. This is important for risk reduction investment reporting and for your community boundary. Please update your boundary map and upload it in the risk assessment step. Risk assessment and action plans: If your documents are current, you can import them to the application by clicking “Reuse current risk assessment” or “Reuse current action plan.” The system will remind you if it is time to update them. Learn more about updating your action plan in our 2021 renewal blog. Want or need to update your risk assessment? We have an online tutorial and template to help you better understand the purpose and how to go about it. Reporting actions: The next three sections are where you tell us about your community’s achievements. Educational outreach: This can be done in a variety of ways—virtual meetings or trainings, in person, digital outreach, print, workshop … the list goes on and on. The key point is that information is shared with your community members around wildfire safety and what actions they can take individually, and how your Firewise committee is guiding overall community efforts. Vegetation removal: We want to hear what you took out of your community. This section has an estimation tool to help calculate cubic yards removed. You can also tell us about any prescribed fire events or altering of fuel (chipping and scattering or other similar activities) that took place. Risk reduction investment: The cornerstone of the Firewise USA program is residents taking action and doing the work to improve the condition of their homes and properties against wildfire. Each site is required to annually invest the equivalent of one volunteer hour per dwelling unit in wildfire risk reduction actions. If your site has identified 100 homes within its boundary, for instance, then 100 hours of work—or the monetary equivalent—need to be completed for the year. Review and submit: The final step allows you to review everything and ensure you have met the requirements. If you are short on the investment, that section will be red. If you have met the hours worked or monetary investment, it will be green. If your application is good to go, check the acknowledgement box at the bottom and click on the green “Submit” button. Application submitted! Once your application is submitted, it will be added to the queue for review. State liaisons and NFPA staff will read through applications to ensure all criteria are met. If there are any questions or concerns, they will send the application back with a note on what steps to take. If everything looks good, they will approve it and the system will send an email letting you know. The email will include a link to your newly updated Certificate of Recognition. If you run into any issues along the way or have questions, please send them to email@example.com. We appreciate the commitment that all of you have shown to living with wildfire and the proactive steps you are taking to improve safety. We look forward to learning about what you achieved in 2023 and sharing your efforts to inspire others.