HISTORY PART I
The Firewise Program got its start during the wildfire season of1985 in which 1,400 homes were destroyed. Fire managers were struck with the kind of impact wildfires had on "wildland urban interface"––residences intermixed with undeveloped forest and open lands. With this devastation came the realization that a growing number of people living near natural lands was not only becoming more common place but showed no sign of decrease. It became apparent this was now an unavoidable reality of contemporary firefighting.
What are two greatest risk to homes during wildfires? 1. Flammable roof, vunerable to embers thrown during a wildfire. 2. Vegetation too close to a house which can catch fire can generate enough heat to ignite the siding or other parts of the home or structure.
The term "Firewise" was coined in the early 1990s to identify a collection of information and educational materials meant to raise awareness about wildfire preparedness.
Firewise tips and tools, made available to landowners at no cost, has helped a growing number of people living in areas where wildfires are a real risk to protect their home and neighborhood.
In 1997, a website by the same name was launched by the National Fire Program Association.
In 2002, forest managers realized that the Firewise Program had a greater chance of success through the cooperation of an entire community not just individuals. The National Firewise Communities/USA® Recognition was launched as a pilot program of 12 neighborhoods. Through this pilot program, a template was made for a voluntary program that included life saving measures neighbors can do to make their home and family safer from wildfire, and at the same time, protect their neighborhood.
The pilot program also developed training programs to create Firewise liaisons from state forestry agencies and fire departments to do outreach and workshops. Earning the designation of "Firewise Community" involves work and commitment by following certain requirements to get and retain recognition. However, being a Firewise Community has its benefits as well like funds to implement an annual Firewise event, assistance from local and state experts to assess and address specific risk factors, and eligibility for grant funds to conduct fire mitigation activities.
Our commitment to reducing the risk of wildfire and keeping our neighborhood safe remains firm. We at the Douglass Ranch Property Owners Association are proud to have successfully retained our designation as a Firewise Community since September 2017.
Our Firewise USA pages include maps, videos, informational downloads. This is free to all Association Members. It also serves as a bulletin board for current community Firewise mitigation activities. For more information contact our DRPOA Vice President of Firewise, Tom Washburn.
Results from the studies discussing major risks to homes during wildfires led to the International Crown Fire Experiments of 1998. The research revealed three important facts: 1. Clearing flameable trees and shrubs 30 feet or more from structures reduces fire risk. 2. Make sure small flames in grass or shrubs cannot touch the home. 3. Using nonflammable roof materials to minimize the damage embers can cause.