Since 2002, The Firewise USA™ program has empowered neighbors to work together in reducing their wildfire risk.
Research has shown that both the house and the adjacent landscape play a critical role in the home surviving a wildfire. The most important things homeowners can do are the small things on and immediately around their home to improve their survivability in a wildfire. However, neighboring properties can also influence each other. Firewise USA guides homeowners in how to organize their neighborhoods to work collaboratively to reduce shared risk.
Using a step-by-step process below,
communities develop an action plan that steers their residential risk reduction activities, while engaging and encouraging their neighbors to become active participants in building a safer place to live. Neighborhoods throughout the United States are embracing the benefits of becoming a recognized Firewise USA site.
STEPS TO RECOGNITION
Wildfire Risk Assessment
Obtaining a written wildfire risk assessment from your state forestry agency or fire department is the first step in becoming a nationally recognized Firewise USA™ site. Contact your state’s designated Firewise Liaison for information on your state’s requirements for developing the risk assessment. This component is an important piece of the application process that will help identify and guide your priorities and activities. The risk assessment will be the board/committee’s primary tool in determining the risk reduction priorities within your site’s boundaries. Assessments need to be updated every five years.
Form a board/committee that’s comprised of residents and other applicable wildfire stakeholders. Consider inviting the local fire department, state forestry agency, elected officials, emergency manager, and if applicable the property management company to participate. This group will collaborate on developing the site’s risk reduction priorities, develop a multi-year action plan based on the risk assessment and oversee the completion of the annual renewal requirements needed to retain an “in good standing” status.
Action plans are a prioritized list of risk reduction projects/investments for the participating site, along with suggested homeowner actions and education activities that participants will strive to complete annually, or over a period of multiple years. Action plans are developed by the board/committee and need updating at least every three years.
Each participating site is required to have a minimum of one wildfire risk reduction educational outreach event, or related activity annually. Visit the program’s portal to get ideas and suggestions for planning a successful educational outreach activity for your residents.
Wildfire Risk Reduction Investment
At a minimum, each site is required to invest the equivalent of $24.14 per dwelling unit* in wildfire risk reduction actions annually (the rate is based on the 2017 annual National Hourly Volunteer Rate; which is updated every year in April when the new amount is published). Find a wide range of qualifying expenditures (contractor costs, rental equipment), volunteer activities, grants, etc., that can be used in meeting the investment in the portal’s Risk Reduction Investment section. Residents completing select home modifications, along with any qualifying work performed at their home and in the adjacent home ignition zones can contribute related hours and/or costs towards meeting the sites collective investment amount.
*Calculating the number of dwelling units for use with the risk reduction investment formula: There must be a minimum of 8 individual single family dwelling units within the site’s identified boundary. The number of dwelling units within the site applying for recognition must be included in the application. For definition purposes, a dwelling unit is a household/residence built for occupancy by one person, a family, or roommates, including mobile homes and cabins; and for multi-family residential occupancies (i.e. duplexes, and other types of attached housing). An apartment building with 10 units would be considered ten dwelling units. Each individual participating site is limited to less than 2,500 individual dwelling units within their identified boundary. Multiple sites can be located within a single large master-planned community/HOA. The Firewise USA™ program is designed for residential occupancies where residents actively participate in reducing the wildfire risk where they live; it is not a program for every occupancy type, or an entire town, city or county. Contact NFPA if you have questions about your area’s eligibility.
You may start an application at any point in the overall process by creating a site profile in the Firewise USA™ portal. Once all the criteria has been completed, the electronic application can be submitted. State liaisons will approve applications, with final processing completed by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA).
Please note: Individual states can request additional application requirements.
Number of active Firewise sites by state
Reference our interactive map to see all active Firewise USA sites.