The National Wildfire Coordinating Group defines a fire adapted community as “A human community consisting of informed and prepared citizens collaboratively planning and taking action to safely coexist with wildland fire.” More fully, a fire adapted community is a knowledgeable, engaged community where actions of residents and agencies in relation to infrastructure, buildings, landscaping and the surrounding ecosystem lessen the need for extensive protection actions and enable the community to safely accept fire as part of the surrounding landscape.
Because every community is unique, the steps and strategies they take to improve their wildfire resilience will vary from place to place.
Because all stakeholders share wildfire risk, a fire adapted community strategy stresses that everyone shares responsibility. Stakeholders in a fire adapted community include residents, businesses, policy-makers, land managers and emergency responders, as well as local, state, tribal and federal governments.
The Fire Adapted Communities Learning Network (FAC Net) is a national network of people working to build sustainable wildfire resilience capacity in fire-prone communities. The Network is the result of a partnership among The Nature Conservancy, the Watershed Research and Training Center and the USDA Forest Service, as well as the many wildfire resilience practitioners who make up our membership.
FAC Net’s mission is to connect and support people and communities who are striving to live more safely with wildfire. Fire adaptation is an alternative to the costly, dangerous and insufficient fire-suppression model.
The Network has the following objectives:
By modeling a viable alternative to the current fire management paradigm, FAC Net members are leading the change toward fire resilience in the United States.
No. The Firewise USA recognition program is one of many strategies a community can use to address its fire risk, and it targets primarily residents. Community fire adaptation includes additional actors (fire departments, business owners, land managers, etc.) and strategies (such as evacuation planning, developing and updating community wildfire protection plans, adopting WUI codes and ordinances, conducting controlled burns and performing post-fire recovery planning). “Fire adapted communities” is not a program; rather, it is a holistic and adaptive approach to help communities live safely with wildfires.
There is no formal fire adapted communities recognition program. The communities shown on various maps (including the map on this website) represent people and places that are interested in fire adaptation and want to connect with other people and places working on these issues. The map simply depicts the network of engaged people and places and does not indicate a “level” of activity, or provide information about conditions in those locations. Anyone, anywhere could be taking fire adaptation actions.
Fire adapted communities is all about community wildfire resilience. By definition, resilience is a continuous process that includes regular assessment and adaptation, and there is no end-point. An important element of community resilience is social connectedness.
The Fire Adapted Communities Learning Network is an example of a “generative social-impact network,” which is defined as “a set of people who voluntarily organize themselves for collective action to solve a large, complex social problem” (Plastrik et al. 2014). In the case of FAC Net, our members have organized themselves to work wildfire resilience.
Unlike coalitions or alliances, generative networks tackle problems that require a good deal of time and adaptive management to address. The members develop powerful, enduring relationships, and members (vs. staff) do most of the group’s work. The long-term, cooperative, and nimble nature of this generative network makes it ideal for addressing the dynamic problem of community resiliency to wildfire.
We welcome individuals and organizations actively working on fire adaptation to join FAC Net as affiliate members. If you are interested in joining FAC Net, please read about membership and then apply to create a profile. When you become a member, you commit to advancing the practice of fire adaptation and to sharing and learning with other community wildfire resilience practitioners.
Join the FAC Net as an affiliate member and: