Tuolumne County neighborhoods, subdivisions, and homeowner’s associations wanting to do more to protect themselves against wildfire may want to consider becoming a Firewise USA Community. Firewise USA is a program of the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA).
Firewise “teaches people how to adapt to living with wildfire and encourages neighbors to work together and take action now to prevent losses,” according to the NFPA.
Firewise is geared toward communities, neighborhoods, and home owners associations, with a minimum of eight individual dwelling units and not more than 2,500 dwelling units. According to the NFPA, “The Firewise USA program is designed for residential occupancies where residents actually participate in reducing the wildfire risk where they live. It is not a program for every occupancy type or an entire town, city or county.” Full information on Firewise Communities can be accessed here.
There are five steps to becoming a recognized Firewise USA site.
Wildfire Risk Assessment: Obtaining a written wildfire risk assessment from the state forestry agency or local fire department is the first step in becoming a nationally recognized Firewise site. CAL FIRE is our state liaison. The assessment is for the participating area as a whole, and not for each individual structure.
The assessment includes: general site description; general site information; description of properties within the boundary; description of local wildland fire characteristics; observations on home ignition zones and common/open space areas or adjacent public lands; summary; and recommendations. You can find the assessment document here.
Board/Committee: Form a board or committee that’s composed of residents and wildfire stakeholders. The board or committee will develop the site’s risk reduction priorities, develop the multi-year action plan based on the risk assessment, and oversee implementation of annual renewal requirements to remain in good standing.
Action Plan: A prioritized list of risk reduction projects/investments for the participating site, suggested homeowner actions, and education activities that participants will complete annually or over a period of years. Action plans need to be updated at least every three years.
Educational Outreach: Each site is required to have a minimum of at least one wildfire risk reduction event annually.
Wildfire Risk Reduction Investment: At a minimum, each site is required to annually invest one volunteer hour in wildfire reduction activities for each dwelling unit (e.g., 800 dwelling units equal 800 volunteer hours). Examples of volunteer activities are provided by the NFPA. Each volunteer hour is valued at the national hourly volunteer rate. For examples of wildfire risk reduction activities click here.
An application may be started at any point in the process.
TELLARA (Terrace Lambert Lake Access Road Area) was recently designated as the first Firewise Community in Tuolumne County.
If your community is interested in becoming a Firewise site, contact the Fire Safe Council through our contacts page.