Topic: Wildfire

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 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 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   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.
A stormy sky

September is National Preparedness Month: Is Your Community Ready to Respond to a Severe Weather Event or Emergency?

While the warmer months of the year signal a time when we can indulge in vacations, beach days, and outdoor activities, the summer and fall are also when hurricanes, thunderstorms, wildfires, and other potential natural disasters make their impressive mark across many areas of the United States, often disrupting the rhythm of our daily lives. According to weather reports, the Atlantic hurricane “season” has already witnessed more hurricanes than is normal for this time of year. Hurricane Idalia, which made landfall last week as a Category 3 storm, caused significant damage across parts of the southeastern United States, most notably in Florida’s Gulf Coast, and parts of Georgia, and South Carolina. Hurricane Lee is expected to gain strength as it travels toward the Caribbean and Bahamas at the end of the week. Excessive heat warnings and heat advisories are in effect across the southern states, prompting red flag warnings and the potential for more extreme fire behavior. The National Interagency Fire Center (NIFC) is pointing to the possibility of significant wildland fire potential for August and September in the northwest and midsection of the country. Hurricane season began June 1 and ends in late November, but according to the National Weather Service, most storms peak in mid-September and October. And it’s not just hurricanes or wildfires that make the news; the Plains and Great Lakes regions often start their battle with freezing conditions and snowfall during the fall months, too. Ready, a national public service campaign, has earmarked September as National Preparedness Month and urges those of us tasked with protecting people and property from fire, electrical, and related hazards, to work together, help educate, and empower the public to prepare for, respond to, and mitigate emergencies before they become tragedies. The theme for this year’s campaign, “Take Control in 1, 2, 3” focuses on preparing older adults for disasters, specifically those who live in communities that are disproportionally impacted by all-hazard events impacting many areas of the country. NFPA has a wealth of information to help guide building owners and facility managers, first responders, health care facility managers, electrical professionals, and public educators, as they prepare ahead of weather events in their area and work closely with communities to develop emergency plans. These resources are free and can be easily shared. For facility managers and business owners: Hurricanes can cause significant damage to chemical facilities, potentially leading to environmental and safety hazards. A recent blog post highlights resources for facility managers. For answers to bigger emergency planning challenges and questions, NFPA 1600®, Standard on Continuity, Emergency, and Crisis Management, is a vital guide for the development, implementation, assessment, and maintenance of disaster/emergency management and continuity of operations programs. Business owners can also utilize the NFPA Emergency Preparedness Checklist, which helps people identify where to focus their emergency preparedness efforts. With the peak of hurricane and wildfire seasons upon us, government agencies and aid organizations may need to shelter potentially thousands of storm and fire evacuees. A recent episode of the NFPA Podcast, Disaster Planning During a Pandemic, introduces two emergency management experts who share lessons learned from responding to past incidents during the pandemic, including several new strategies that will likely remain in place long after the pandemic is over. For first responders: First responders face many hazards when working with vehicles that have been submerged in water, particularly with hybrid or electrical vehicles. The Submerged Hybrid/Electrical Vehicle Bulletin from NFPA breaks down the safety issues to help keep first responders safe when working in flooded areas. A free toolkit is also available for first responders, which provides the information and resources needed to help local residents prepare ahead of weather events. For electrical professionals: Electrical professionals are often tasked with equipment maintenance for electrical, electronic, and communication systems and equipment found in multifamily residential complexes, industrial plants, and commercial buildings to prevent equipment failures and worker injuries. The NFPA Natural Disaster Electrical Equipment Checklist builds off recommendations in Chapter 32 of the 2019 edition of NFPA 70B, Recommended Practice for Electrical Equipment Maintenance, and provides a useful framework for recovering electrical equipment and systems after a disaster. For health care providers: New criteria require health care providers to have extensive plans in place for numerous types of events including hurricanes as part of an emergency preparedness rule passed by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) in November 2017. Requirements for emergency and backup power supplies as well as consideration of other logistical needs for long-duration events are an important part of the rule. Find information that can help medical providers with their emergency preparedness needs. In September 2019, an NFPA white paper was introduced to help health care facilities meet the requirements of the CMS emergency preparedness rule. For the public: A fact sheet and related information provide residents and businesses with easy wildfire risk reduction steps they can do around their homes and buildings to make them safer from wildfire and blowing embers. An escape plan activity sheet helps families prepare and practice an escape plan in case of a fire in the home. An emergency supplies kit checklist provides a list of items a family may need in case of an evacuation due to an emergency weather event. A tip sheet provides the facts and steps homeowners can take to safely use portable generators in the event homes lose power after a storm. With so much severe weather happening across the country, the time to start preparing communities is now. Make Preparedness Month the jump start you need to put plans in place. For these and other related information sources, visit the NFPA emergency preparedness webpage.

California Designates its 700th Firewise USA Community

Upper Mark West Fire Safe Council in Sonoma County, California, was recently designated a Firewise USA® community, representing the 700th Firewise community to be recognized in the state. According to Chief Daniel Berlant, deputy director of CAL FIRE – Office of the State Fire Marshal’s Community Wildfire Preparedness and Mitigation Division, reaching the 700th community came just eight months after celebrating the 600th community milestone.   The Upper Mark West community is extremely active, regularly hosting hands-on fire prevention workshops, community work parties, and gatherings to promote fire safety education materials. They also put out a regular newsletter. In addition, the community has been successful in its grant writing efforts. They are currently in the middle of completing a CAL FIRE planning grant, which addresses large-scale fuel reduction projects, along with a county grant to do roadside fuel reduction project. RELATED: NFPA Urges Action to Mitigate Wildfire Risks Amid Unprecedented Destruction   It’s incredibly exciting to see the momentum around Firewise continue to build and grow throughout California, which holds more than 30 percent of all Firewise USA communities nationwide.   The efforts of Upper Mark West in coordination with the other hundreds of Firewise communities throughout the state will collectively help reduce the potentially devastating impact of future wildfires. I hope this momentum and enthusiasm will motivate not only more communities in California to participate, but also those in the many other states that face the real threat of wildfire. Most recently, the devastation that occurred in Maui reinforces just how important it is to be as prepared as possible. Firewise can play a critical role in those efforts.    The Firewise USA recognition program is administered by NFPA. Individuals and communities participate on a voluntary basis and are recognized as a Firewise community upon the completion of certain tasks, including forming a committee of residents and other wildfire stakeholders, obtaining a written risk assessment form, developing a 3-year action plan for the community, hosting an outreach event, and ultimately completing their application to become a Firewise community.    To learn the steps and begin the process of becoming a Firewise community, visit
Partial list of Wildland Fires in U.S. History with Ten or More Fatalities

Maui wildfire one of deadliest in U.S. history

*Since this blog was first published, the death toll has continued to climb. As of August 25, the reported number of deaths is 115.   According to NFPA research, this week’s Lahaina Fire death toll, now at 80 people, is among the top ten deadliest wildfires on record since 1871.   “Through a deadly combination of human and natural causes, we now see unprecedented wildfires in every corner of the globe and in communities that were previously not viewed as high risk,” said NFPA President and CEO Jim Pauley. “This painful and tragic reality was on full display in Maui as wind driven fires overwhelmed the small island.”   Pauley’s statements are reinforced in additional facts from NFPA research including that four of the deadliest wildfires in the U.S., including this one, have occurred since 2017.   He continued, “While voluntary actions to mitigate property have proved successful to an extent, the sheer volume of communities at risk requires changes to where we build, how we build, and what we do to existing properties through stronger policies to create a built environment better able to withstand such massive devastation.”   Today there are nearly 45 million homes in the wildland/urban interface (WUI). According to the National Interagency Fire Center, some 71.8 million properties in the U.S. are at some level of risk from wildfire. Each year some of the largest-loss fires occur in the WUI.   In the past five years, wildfires have destroyed nearly 63,000 structures in the U.S., the majority of which were homes. Record high temperatures, serious drought conditions, and high winds from severe weather events such as thunder and lightning storms have been blamed for the recent increase in wildfire activity in Canada, Europe, and in high-risk areas across the U.S. Officials predict more wildfires will erupt in the coming months due to continued dry heat and increased storm activity, prompting residents to look for information on what they can do to reduce their risk before a wildfire.   In a media advisory this week, NFPA provided resources for media and the public on various aspects for the wildfire problem.   Additional information, resources, and articles: Outthink Wildfire™, a comprehensive strategy that lays out five key policy changes that need to be made at the federal, state, and local levels and if followed, will end the destruction of communities by wildfire over the next 30 years. Firewise USA® recognition program that empowers residents to work collaboratively in reducing wildfire risks. Prepare Your Home for Wildfire Fact Sheet Home Ignition Zone Checklist Wildfire Preparedness Tips NFPA/IBHS Wildfire Research Fact Sheet Series Blog: Clearing the Five-Foot Zone Around Your Home is Critical to Safety from Wildfires NFPA Journal, May 2023 Wildfire Column: Inflection Point   For additional resources and information, and to learn more about how to keep families safe and reduce homeowners’ risk for wildfire damage, please visit NFPA’s wildfire  webpage.   For those seeking information on federal disaster assistance, please visit FEMA.  

The World of the Fire Protection Handbook Comes to the NFPA Conference & Expo

As you may have heard, NFPA has released the 21st edition of its flagship publication, the Fire Protection Handbook (FPH). It’s been 15 years since NFPA has released a new edition and the response has been positively overwhelming. Dubbed the most comprehensive, one-of-a-kind guide for fire and life safety students and professionals, the guide features content reflecting the very latest fire protection and fire safety information, research and data, emerging technologies, and safety practices. Since 1896, the FPH (previously called the Handbook of the Underwriter’s Bureau of New England) has been supporting practitioners as they advance in their careers, providing them with the answers they need to their fire protection questions. If you want to learn more about the handbook or are thinking about purchasing this latest edition for yourself or your office, library, or department, you won’t want to miss a special NFPA Conference & Expo® session happening today (Tuesday) at 11 a.m. in Oceanside D. During the session, Kristin Bigda, NFPA publications strategy director, and Jonathan Hart, NFPA technical lead for Engineering Technical Services, will take your questions and talk about how the world of fire protection has changed in the nearly two decades since the last edition of the FPH was published, and how this evolution is reflected in the many chapters of the 21st edition of the handbook. Interested in real world application? They’ll also provide examples of how the FPH is helping professionals everywhere grow their confidence and understanding of fire safety practices in our ever-changing workplace environment. Did you know that the handbook also forms the required body of knowledge for candidates pursuing the NFPA Certified Fire Protection Specialist (CFPS) exam? The CFPS is internationally recognized as the gold standard in certification for fire protection professionals to demonstrate their proficiency in fire safety, protection, prevention, and suppression technologies. Effective January 2024, the CFPS certification exam will be based on the new edition of the Fire Protection Handbook, but until then, the exam will continue to be based on the 20th edition of the handbook. Please note that if you’re a fire protection professional who wishes to certify before the updated exam is launched, you can schedule to take the exam before January. For more information about the CFPS certification and the upcoming exam updates, visit For those of you who have ordered a copy of the handbook to be delivered here at the Conference, don’t forget to pick it up at the NFPA Marketplace, right outside the Expo Hall in the Shoreline Foyer. A special offer is available for participants here at the Conference. If you buy now, you’ll get 10 percent off the Fire Protection Handbook (NFPA members receive an additional 10 percent discount). And while you’re in the Marketplace, take a moment to check out all the great NFPA merchandise and view some of the other NFPA publications of interest to you. We look forward to seeing you there!

Addressing the Wildfire Crisis at NFPA Conference & Expo

The threat of wildfire in the U.S. and around the world is becoming increasingly prevalent and dangerous, posing greater risks to people and property. NFPA® works with organizations everywhere to raise awareness about the ways to reduce the risk of wildfire hazards. At this year’s Conference & Expo there are several great sessions that delve into wildfire issues including the relationship between wildfire and building codes, public education, testing and research, evacuation planning, community resilience, and more. At an early morning session on Monday, Robert Marshall from Whisker Labs and Bob Roper from Western Fire Chiefsspoke to an engaged audience about the role utility companies play in wildfire ignitions. According to the speakers, about 10 percent of wildfires are caused by ignitions from downed power lines or faulty electric transmission lines, and power lines have been involved about 50 percent of the most damaging California fires, including the Dixie, Camp, and Kincade fires. Marshall and Roper emphasized the need for more preventative measures, such as establishing a state warning control center to help monitor transmission systems to detect home electrical hazards like electrical faults or loose electrical connections that could ultimately lead to a wildfire.   A good approach to this challenge, Roper said, is having the ability to predict and prevent the failure of transmission systems and equipment on the grid by using data to inform response. Roper went on to say that home sensors, developed by Ting, part of Whisker Labs, a Maryland technology company whose specialty is uncovering home hazards using data and sensor science to enhance safety, are bringing solutions to the forefront. While the data is most often used in real time, helping stop a fire before it happens, documenting all home electrical fires and providing insights on the type of home, location, and other data points associated with the home provides us with teachable moments that can inform what we do in the future. “It’s all about prevention and bringing homeowners, fire organizations, utilities, and other groups together to share learnings and help prevent more tragedies from happening,” said Marshall. “The more data we have, the better intel we can share, and that puts us in a much better position to help everyone.” Dive deeper into the subject by listening to an October 2022 podcast episode hosted by NFPA Journal editor Jesse Roman. In the episode, Jesse speaks to author and Wall Street Journal energy reporter Katherine Blunt, whose book California Burning takes a deep dive into how the actions of Pacific Gas & Electric, the changing climate, and state energy policy are contributing to the overall wildfire problem in California.   While at the Conference, don’t forget to stop by the public education kiosk at the NFPA booth to speak to NFPA staff from the Wildfire division. They can help answer any questions you have, including information about our flagship wildfire programs, Firewise USA® and Outthink Wildfire™.
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