What is Firewise?
The Firewise Program has its origins in the 1985 fire season during which 1,400 homes were destroyed making fire managers acutely
aware that the “wildland urban interface” where residences mix with undeveloped forest and open lands was an unavoidable reality of
contemporary firefighting. It’s also a problem that it is national in scope; in other words, wherever there are forests. The term “Firewise”
was coined in the early 1990s to identify the growing knowledge that landowners could use to reduce their fire risks. A website by this
name was launched in 1997 by the National Fire Program Association.
Focused first on simply raising awareness of the potential for fires in semi-urban settings, Firewise program managers moved on quickly
to the task of developing and providing information about the simple and practical techniques homeowners could use to reduce the risks
of home destruction by wildfire.
The two greatest risks to homes during wildfires are: 1) Flammable roof, vulnerable to the embers thrown during a wildfire and, 2)
Vegetation close to a house which can catch fire and generate enough heat or flames to ignite siding or other parts of the home’s
Firewise went to work with this information to learn more about how structures burn and, in particular, what causes them to ignite. This led
to the “International Crown Fire Experiments” of 1998 in the Northwest Territory. Scientists set large fires in, on and near structures of
various types to obtain high quality data about how close vegetation could be to a structure yet not put that structure at risk of igniting
from radiant heat. The three main takeaways from this research were that you can significantly reduce your fire risk by:
Clearing flammable trees and shrubs 30 feet or more from structures,
Making sure small flames in grass or shrubs cannot touch the home, and
Using nonflammable roof materials to minimize the damage that embers can cause.
With reliable, quantitative data in hand, Firewise and its partners disseminated information broadly with the primary message being “Your
home CAN survive a wildfire.” Publications and videos are great tools but hands-on workshops put homeowners in direct contact with
experts and enable attendees to ask specific questions about home materials, vegetation options and other factors that may affect their
Firewise workshops are designed to assist community “spark plugs” and provide them the technical information they need to make a
compelling case for becoming Firewise, as well as provide a flexible tool kit they can use to encourage community involvement and match
need to the community in which they live.
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Photos by Edna
2020 ANNUAL FIREWISE MEETING and the MITIGATION EFFORT
I want to thank those that participated in our annual Firewise mitigation event October 10th. This year we combined our annual Firewise meeting and our mitigation
day activities. Each year we hold a mitigation day to reduce the fuel around our community center, to reduce fire risk. In the event of a large fire our community center
may become an emergency shelter. This year marks our tenth year as a Firewise community. Attendees were provided with Firewise and Ready Set Go literature to
help with their fire preparation plans. In the event of a large fire, your efforts in making your property more resistant to fire may make the difference for your homes
survival. Once again, thanks for your continuing support of our Firewise and Ready Set Go program.
Ken Gossett DMRVFD Fire Chief