May 12, 2016
Wildfire Community Preparedness Day 2016
Authors: Emily Troisi
Every year in May, FAC Net members and partners organize events for Wildfire Community Preparedness Day. Similar to last year we wanted to share a summary of events and photos so you can be inspired to hold your own event next year! Some communities have preparedness days, weeks and even months– all with the goal to educate their communities about wildfire preparedness, including fire adapted communities practices, and offer fun events and mitigation opportunities in their own backyards. Take a look at some of our members’ fun events from this year:
“Ashland’s 5th Annual Firewise Clean-Up Day held on Saturday, April 30 was a community success. Thanks to the partnership with Recology, Ashland, 150 Ashland residents were able to drop off yard debris for free during the event. Citizens of Ashland are encouraged to clear brush and dead leaves/needles, and trim trees around their homes to get prepared for fire season. Ashland received a $500 grant from the National Fire Protection Association to promote Wildfire Community Preparedness Day. The grant assisted with the production of updated signage at the north and south ends of town, as well as at the transfer station. This is an annual event held at the Valley View Transfer Station.
Additionally, the Merrill Circle and Oak Knoll Meadows Firewise Communities celebrated Wildfire Community Preparedness Day by hosting their annual neighborhood clean up event. Seven Merrill Circle residents worked for 3 hours cleaning up dead dry brush throughout the neighborhood. In Oak Knoll Meadows, 26 homes participated in a subdivision-wide dump day where they filled an open dump truck with yard waste.”
–Alison Lerch, Fire Adapted Communities Coordinator, Ashland Fire and Rescue
Photo Credit: Alison Lerch
“For the week leading up to May 7, Sams Valley Elementary School was planning what their new Firewise Learning Garden would encompass. The first order of business was to remove the large juniper mounds that were sitting in their designated garden area. J & M Landscape, a local landscaping business, donated their time and equipment to remove multiple trailers of these flammable shrubs. When they were finished, the area was a clean canvas to start planning. A sketch was drawn (see below) of a walking path, created out of decomposed granite, big boulders for aesthetic appeal and large mounds of soil to plant trees and flowers.
Later in the week we discussed the importance of water and spacing of plants, as well as the characteristics of fire-prone and fire-resistant plants. Students quickly grasped the concept distinguishing the two and were eager to plant some of the Firewise plants, including day lily, lavender, kinnikinnic and maple tree varieties.
On Saturday, May 7, Fire District 3, J & M Landscape and Sams Valley students and parents gathered together to finish their wildfire prep day! Kids were able to place close to 40 fire-resistant plants throughout the learning garden. Firewise signs were also installed along the path to educate about fire behavior and defensible space.
A HUGE thank you to State Farm, J & M Landscape, Hilton Landscape and Shooting Star Nursery for making this event extraordinary! Here is a clip from one of our media outlets: http://www.kdrv.com/news/Students_and_Firefighters_Prepare_for_Fire_Season.html”
–Ashley Lara, Fire & Life Safety Specialist, Jackson County Fire District 3
Photo Credit: Ashley Lara
“The Sisters-Camp Sherman Fire District in central Oregon had their annual wildfire preparedness day on April 16 to educate local residents on the importance of taking action now before there is smoke on the horizon this summer. Our specific focus was with a 250-home community in the wildfire-urban intermix area called Squaw Creek Canyon Estates. The program was hosted at their neighborhood fire station, with partners attending from Oregon Department of Forestry and Deschutes County Project Wildfire FAC. Presentations to the 32 residents that attended covered the history of wildfires in their area; services provided from their fire department including home ignition zone assessments; home ignition zone training; grant funding for available sweat equity projects; IAFC’s Ready, Set, Go!; and NFPA’s Firewise Communities. The highlights from the meeting:
- This community is now working on becoming a recognized Firewise Community;
- A local real estate developer attended and now is convinced to mitigate fuels on vacant lots as well as add some additional water infrastructure for fire suppression water delivery; and
- Grant money will be given to this community to offset costs to residents who mitigate the wildland fuels on their property.”
-Gary Marshall, Fire Safety Manager, Sisters / Camp Sherman Fire District
Photo Credit: Gary Marshall
“On Saturday May 7, the Coalition for the Upper South Platte led a Wildfire Community Preparedness Event in the Tri-Lakes area, on the Front Range of Colorado. Team Rubicon (http://www.teamrubiconusa.org), Air Force Academy cadets, and local residents helped CUSP reduce fire risk by pulling slash and chipping the material. While the weather was unsettled, with thunderstorms, snow and rain, we still had a great time and got a great deal done. Thanks to all of those that helped!”
–Jonathan Bruno, Operations Director, Coalition for the Upper South Platte
Photo Credit: Coalition for the Upper South Platte
“FireWise of Southwest Colorado teamed up with Southwest Colorado Community College for Wildfire Preparedness Day to create fire-resistant landscaping at a community college home being remodeled for fire, EMS and law enforcement simulations. It was a typical spring day in southwest Colorado, with hail, mud, sunshine, sprinkles and smiles. Twenty-three volunteers showed up on Saturday, including a National Civilian Community Corps crew, community college students, FireWise Neighborhood Ambassadors, a realtor, a local landscaping contractor with his bobcat and helpers, and a local home inspection business. Many of the materials were donated or discounted. The drainage issues around the house were remedied first, then the landscaping began. Native fire-resistant grass and wildflower seed was dispersed, and an 18-inch or greater non-combustible apron was installed all the way around the house. Forty fire-resistant flowers and shrubs were planted. The wooden decking was removed and, a few days later, replaced with composite material. This site has been transformed, and interpretive signs will be installed this summer to showcase this house. The best thing that happened was the contractor coming with his bobcat! We accomplished at least three times as much with the help of him and his equipment.”
–Rebecca Samulski, Montezuma County Coordinator, FireWise of Southwest Colorado
FireWise of Southwest Colorado had a host of other Wildfire Prep Day activities in various Firewise communities around their area. For example, a Wildfire Prep Day project in Archuleta County was a joint effort between the San Juan Headwaters Forest Health Partnership and FireWise of SWCO, and saw approximately 25 people participate in the event. According to their press release, “Highlights included presentation of objectives and goals for the thinning work and accomplishments, observation of trees fighting bark beetle, and a presentation on the historical conditions of the forest on Reservoir Hill.” FireWise of SWCO was also involved in Vista de Oro community’s County Road 117 Mitigation in La Plata County, and Falls Creek Ranch fuels reduction, which had 45 volunteers for about four hours.
Credit: FireWise of Southwest Colorado
“We had an eventful day. My veteran wildfire mitigation crew helped Woodridge Subdivision with some overgrown common areas Saturday morning, and it was a great effort. We chipped three truckloads of material in just four hours. We had great turnout there, and the homeowners seemed to really like the event, and of course our help! Having four Marines with chainsaws, truck and a chipper helps to get some work done.
“Junk the Junipers” started this week as well, and we will have six more days of cutting and chipping junipers and cedars for homeowners in our primary wildfire hazard zone. This event is part of wildfire awareness month and runs through the end of May. Last year we helped more than 60 homes “Junk their Junipers,” and all received a gift certificate to a local nursery for a new fire-resistant replacement plant. Media coverage included live shots on the morning shows and several news stories.”
– Tim Weaver, Lieutenant, Rapid City Fire Department
Photo Credit: Tim Weaver
“Utah had a successful inter-agency event where we had an open house, Firewise recognition presentation and mock evacuation of a community. Although we were hoping for a better turn out (which we think the weather affected), at the end of the day, all cooperators agreed that it was worth the time. We raffled six of the evacuation kits that were funded by the state and a FEMA grant. We had three TV stations come out and do stories on the evacuations.”
-Jennifer Hansen, Wildland Urban Interface Program Administrator, Utah Division of Forestry, Fire and State Lands.
Photo Credit: Jennifer Hansen
“Flagstaff, Arizona conducted a ‘Harvesting Methods and Firewise Preparedness Open House’ to commemorate the day. The event included numerous agencies and organizations with a large variety of informational booths. Smokey Bear and Louie the Lumberjack (the Northern Arizona University mascot) showed up. Local loggers and tree service vendors also attended. We brought in a feller buncher and skidder, which the public could climb into, Type 1, 3 and 6 engines with firefighters and a fuels crew. The NAU Timber Sports team held demos, and we had a kids corner with arts and crafts.
It was a great opportunity for the public to learn about the work occurring in the forest, and meet the multiple partners involved. The vibe was extremely positive. I believe everyone left a little more informed and supportive of our efforts, and with an understanding of how they can contribute through continued engagement and application of Firewise principles on their own property.”
-Mark Brehl, Assistant Fire Management Officer, Arizona State Forestry Division
Photo Credit: Mark Brehl