Firefighter looking at fire damage

Registration for “Outthink Wildfire: Identifying Solutions to End Community Loss” - a FREE full-day program on March 15 – is now open

On Tuesday, March 15, NFPA is hosting “Outthink Wildfire: Identifying Solutions to End Community Loss,” a FREE one-day program that addresses new, innovative approaches for effectively combating today’s wildfire challenges. The program is part of the association’s virtual 125th Anniversary Conference Series, which launched last May, replacing the traditional in-person 2021 NFPA Conference & Expo. The upcoming wildfire program represents the last of the year-long series. “Outthink Wildfire: Identifying Solutions to End Community Loss” will cover a wide range of topics, including strategies to better educate the public about real vs. perceived risk to wildfire; data and research that debunk common myths about wildfire; policy changes needed in specific states to strengthen wildfire readiness; and the importance of adequate insurance coverage for homeowners and the resilience of communities as a whole. Attendees can tune in live to earn up to five credit hours (0.5 CEU) and earn an additional five credit hours on-demand for a total of 10 credit hours (1.0 CEU). Alternatively, the content can all be viewed on-demand for a total of 10 credit hours (1.0 CEU). All programs will be available on-demand for up to a year starting on June 22. The full session list with descriptions of each is now available, and registration to attend the event is open. Sign up today!
Woman and man doing yard work

New 10-Year Strategy from the U.S. Forest Service to Tackle Wildfire Hazardous Fuel Issue

On January 18, the federal government announced plans to seriously tackle the hazardous fuels that feed that nation’s wildfire crisis. The U.S. Forest Service (USFS) has long acknowledged the problem created by the dead trees, overgrown undergrowth and brush left by decades of vigorous wildfire suppression, bark beetle infestations and neglect. But, it has been routinely stymied by the lack of resources to address the problem at its true scale—hundreds of millions of acres. On January 18, Tom Vilsack, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture, along with Arizona Senator Mark Kelly, and U.S. Forest Service Chief Tom Moore, announced the federal government’s intention to treat 50 million acres1 over the next ten years and have a plan in place for maintaining that work going forward. Years of research from the USFS and others have mapped out large areas of land, known as firesheds, where wildfire ignition would likely expose communities to risk. Through this research, land managers now have a better understanding of how to prioritize and target landscape treatments to get the most risk reduction possible from the smallest footprint of treatment area. The plan released yesterday noted the USFS will use this science to guide its actions, starting with high-risk areas in California, Arizona, Washington, and Oregon. The hazardous conditions of the nation’s forests and grasslands is a major factor in the extreme wildfire conditions on display over the past several years. NFPA’s Outthink Wildfire initiative has called for a significant increase in the federal government’s response to these hazardous conditions through prescribed fire and mechanical thinning. With the funds provided through the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, the USFS has nearly $3 billion directly for fuel treatments to kickstart their 10-year initiative. However, as acknowledged in the strategy document released yesterday, this initiative will require policymakers to solve ongoing funding issues, build the sizable workforce necessary to carry this out, and coordinate large projects across multiple jurisdictions—all long-standing challenges. After successive years of punishing wildfires, the Forest Service’s public acknowledgement of the need to greatly increase the scale of fuel reduction, and its commitment to treating 50 million acres of wildfire risk over the next 10 years, is a breakthrough. The impact of it though will depend on the appetite to solve the long-standing implementation barriers like funding and workforce, that currently stand in the way of the hoped for “paradigm shift” in land management. However, with strong advocacy and continued stakeholder engagement, progress on these hard issues can be gained. Treating the hazardous fuel conditions that enable destructive wildfires is critical. However, it is not the only action needed to solve the problem. Science points to a future with more wildfire, even as land management policies seek to mitigate the worst possible outcomes. To live safely in this future, communities must embrace risk reduction policies—codes, retrofits, education, and strong support for their fire departments. Without similarly lofty goals for each of these needs, the end of community destruction by wildfires will remain out of reach. 1 20 million acres of National Fire Land and 30 million acres of other federal, tribal, state, and private lands.
Mom and child raking leaves

Take action to protect homes and neighborhoods on May 7 during Wildfire Community Preparedness Day

Research shows risks can be lessened when we invest time in preparing our homes and landscaping to reduce the damage caused by embers during a wildfire. That’s why NFPA and State Farm are pleased to announce the launch of Wildfire Community Preparedness Day (Preparedness Day) on May 7, 2022. Thanks to the generous support of State Farm, NFPA will be able to provide up to 100 applicants from across the country with $500 funding awards to complete a wildfire risk reduction project on event day and we make it easy for you to apply! Learn more about the application process and apply directly on our website. Since the inception of Preparedness Day in 2014, we continue to be inspired by the hundreds of individuals and groups of all ages from across the country who participate every year. Everyone can get involved and have fun, too! If you’re new to the event, or even if you participate every year, we make it easy to get involved. The following can help you get started: Check out information about how you can play a role in wildfire safety at home and download the home improvement project guidelines that apply to any residence and can be accomplished all year long. Learn about the May 7 Preparedness Day event and related information on the Preparedness Day webpage. Check out past success stories to learn how others have participated on event day. Listen to a video interview with residents and firefighters about how their preparedness efforts helped protect their community during a wildfire. Download a home ignition zone checklist and additional related resourcesthat you can use to guide you through your projects on event day and throughout the year. Download the 2022 Preparedness Day toolkit to get project ideas, tips, and ways to share your accomplishments with the community. Apply for a $500 funding awardto help with the cost of your project. There’s so much to learn and ways to get involved that we can’t wait to get started! Won’t you join us! For more information about Wildfire Community Preparedness Day, how to apply for funding awards, and for project ideas and free resources to download, please visit www.wildfireprepday.org.
house on fire

Hard truths about a hard time: Marshall Fire devastation illustrates conditions leading to wildfire disaster

The fires just before the New Year in Boulder County have been devastating in terms of property loss and human suffering. I join with all my colleagues in sympathy for those who have been left homeless and those who have been traumatized by the experience of fleeing their homes with minutes to spare. In our world of wildfire and disaster resilience, we sadly know there are many others who are retraumatized by watching this event unfold, as they have so recently experienced similar losses. In addition to supporting our friends and neighbors as they recover, it is of the utmost importance that we use this time to understand what happened and to communicate how we might change future outcomes. The Marshall Fire illustrates an important truth about wildfire disasters. For decades, attempts at disaster reduction and mitigation have relied on a definition of “wildland/urban interface” to try to describe the location, or the line, where we might take protective steps when building in areas prone to nature’s fire. And for at least 20 years, NFPA has argued for an alternate description of the so-called interface, as a set of conditions that can exist nearly everywhere. In other words, wildfire disasters (what happens when homes and other structures ignite during wildfires) can happen almost anywhere given just the right conditions of vegetative and structural fuel, weather and topography. The destruction caused by the Marshall Fire, with nearly 1,000 homes and other structures obliterated, was the result of a veritable perfect storm of fire conditions. Unseasonable warm and dry conditions have persisted in the Front Range area of Colorado for months, with virtually no snow in fall or early winter. As described in a recent New York Magazine Intelligencer interview with climate scientist Daniel Swain, the region is subject to strong winds, especially in winter, that materialized on a sunny day at the end of December. With an ignition on a warm and windy day, in bone-dry vegetation, the wildfire took off through grass and brush and began to ignite the other plentiful fuel source in the form of homes and commercial buildings. With wind gusts that would qualify for a strong Category 2 hurricane along the coastline, there was no stopping the spread of flames and especially embers that penetrated vulnerable buildings through vents, cracks, garage doors and other openings. Outside, once any combustible material – grass, shrubs, mulch, a rattan doormat, a parked vehicle – ignited, it was bound to burn and to then ignite the next combustible fuel – porches, decks, combustible siding on exterior walls, outbuildings. In the dense development throughout Superior, Louisville and surrounding areas, buildings aflame easily ignited the next home, the next business, and so on. The result was urban conflagration that Swain described in the interview as not unlike the Great Fires of history (London, Chicago, and the list goes on). The reality that home destruction from wildfire can happen nearly anywhere complicates attempts to regulate new construction and to reach vulnerable residents with vital safety information. As the past week has shown, however, safety advocates and policymakers must embrace the complexity of this problem, tell the hard truths, and recommit to ending wildfire disasters. NFPA launched Outthink Wildfire last year for this very reason. We owe it to our friends and neighbors to work to make this kind of destruction rare instead of recurrent.
Ladder on a fire truck
Wildfire

Latest NFPA Podcast Takes a Sobering Look at Wildfires and the Devastating Effect on Farmers, Ranchers, and Livestock in the American West

In August, the Richard Spring Fire burned more than 170,000 acres of land through southeastern Montana. Cattle ranchers, who often serve as first responders for wildfires on their property, were hit particularly hard during this time. But this was not the first experience these ranchers have had with a wildfire. For decades, farmers, ranchers, and others have worked tirelessly on strategies to mitigate wildfire and the threats they pose to their animals. Weeks after the Richard Spring Fire, Jacqueline Wilmot, a research project manager at the Fire Protection Research Foundation, spoke with Clint McRae, a longtime cattle rancher, about his experience dealing with the Richard Spring Fire. Their conversation is captured in the podcast, Fire on the Ranch. A sobering story, McRae tells listeners what he and other ranchers have been doing to help their cattle survive, and the difficult choices they must often make during and after a wildfire burns through their area. Following McRae’s interview, Jesse Roman, senior editor of NFPA Journal, dives deeper into the topic of wildfire and interviews Michele Steinberg, the director of the NFPA Wildfire Division about this year’s fire season. Together they discuss legislative efforts currently underway to help address the damaging wildfire trends the U.S. has seen over the last five years. Listen to the podcast and read related articles about wildfire in the latest issue of NFPA Journal and share the information with others you know.    
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