Firewise USA® sites staying resilient in 2020
Firewise USA® is a program built on the concept of people connecting and working together. What that means to a community was flipped on its head in 2020 as in-person gatherings were not allowed or were greatly limited. Community workdays had to navigate health and safety recommendations that limited size and required additional personal protective equipment. Yet, with all the challenges presented by COVID-19, the participants of Firewise stayed committed and accomplished some amazing local risk reduction tasks.
Reviewing Firewise site annual renewal reports, it was inspiring to read how communities adapted and overcame challenges in meeting the annual educational outreach criteria. They adopted new technology, switching to virtual meetings instead of in-person. One community hosted a drive-thru event to celebrate a newly restored bridge and shared information about wildfire preparedness. Another community hosted a "safari" where residents traveled to different locations to learn about the efforts in their community and gained stamps in their passport (social distancing and masks were required). These are just a couple of examples of the creative and adaptive solutions people found to keep local focus on wildfire preparedness going.
A shift in 2020’s focus was from popular community work days to individual efforts that emphasized the importance of work on individual properties, on the home itself, and the different areas of the Home Ignition Zone. We always say that wildfire does not recognize boundaries, but it does not recognize pandemics either. Residents across the country stepped up and far exceeded expectations.
2020 Risk Reduction investments by Firewise USA® Sites Included:
- 2.4 million volunteer hours worked, with more than half of those at the home and home ignition zone level;
- Over $54 million spent on chippers, contractors, and home improvement costs, etc;
In 2020, the combined volunteer hours and project monies spent generated over $115 million.
At the end of 2020 we had a total of 1,750 participating communities that were In Good Standing, with 200 of those new to the program.
We at NFPA thank all of you and your local supporting partners for your acknowledgement of the role you play in wildfire preparedness and commitment you show to being a part of the solution.
Congratulations on your continued forward progress. We cannot wait to see what you accomplish in 2021!
Is your community ready to take the next step on its wildfire journey? Visit Firewise.org to learn how you can get organized and become a Firewise USA site.
You can follow me on twitter @meganfitz34 more wildfire-related topics.
Photo credit: Ken Light, Orinda Firewise Committee members handing out How to Prepare Your Home For Wildfire brochure and other information at local farmers market.