The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) has released a new report, Residents Reducing Wildfire Risks: Findings from the NFPA Firewise Sites of Excellence Pilot, 2019–2020, that showcases the work of seven active Firewise USA communities to build wildfire-ignition resistance and avert wildfire disasters. The report is the result of an NFPA two-year pilot, Sites of Excellence in collaboration with the USDA Forest Service and state forestry agencies.
‘This pilot program underscores the true power and impact of Firewise communities working together to reduce their collective risk to wildfire,’ said Michele Steinberg, wildfire division director at NFPA. ‘Individuals taking steps to protect their own homes can only accomplish so much. The results of this pilot program show that the greatest potential for wildfire risk reduction lies with entire neighborhoods working in lock step with one another.’
According to the report, seven sites in Arizona, Colorado, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Washington and Wisconsin saw higher levels of engagement and interest in the Firewise program and wildfire mitigation efforts; in six of the seven sites, more than 80% of adjacent households achieved the goal of mitigation in the home ignition zone. Their work demonstrated not only that community wildfire resilience is achievable but that such a program can also foster improved community cohesion and better communication among residents, emergency responders, and land managers.
Developed for NFPA by postdoctoral scholar Dr Rebecca Miller, the report and corresponding story map illustrates the challenges, successes, and best practices discovered during the pilot. Findings will help direct future Firewise program changes as well as inform policy that can support increased implementation of risk reduction practices in communities facing wildfire threats to life and property.
The pilot challenged participants to achieve ambitious wildfire mitigation goals. At each site, community leaders identified up to 100 co-located, adjacent homes and asked homeowners to complete mitigation tasks based on individual home risk evaluations. These tasks focused on the ‘home ignition zone’ – the structure and its immediate surroundings out to 30ft as recent wildfires have revealed the vulnerability of unprepared homes and neighborhoods.
Download the full report and learn more about the ‘Sites of Excellence’ pilot program on the NFPA website.