2023 Firewise Committee Members
Mark Martin - Committee Chair
What does the Firewise committee do?
Organize- The Firewise committee is comprised of residents and other applicable wildfire stakeholders, including the local fire department, state forestry agency, elected officials, emergency managers, and the property management company. This group collaborates on identifying the site’s boundary and size. Firewise sites need to have a minimum of 8 individual single-family dwelling units and are limited to a maximum of 2,500. Multiple sites can be located within a single large master-planned community/HOA.
Plan- Obtain a written wildfire risk assessment from your state forestry agency or fire department. The assessment should be a community-wide view that identifies areas of successful wildfire risk reduction and areas where improvements could be made. Emphasis should be on the general conditions of homes and related home ignition zones. The assessment is a living document and needs to be updated at a minimum of every 5 years.
Do- Host an outreach event and work with neighbors on addressing items in the action plan. These efforts will go towards your site’s annual wildfire risk reduction investment. At a minimum, each site is required to annually invest the equivalent of one volunteer hour per dwelling unit in wildfire risk reduction actions. If your site has identified 100 homes within its boundary, then 100 hours of work or the monetary equivalent, based on the independent sector value of volunteer time, need to be completed for that year.
Program Benefits for the Community
Get a framework for action
Meeting the criteria for becoming a Firewise USA® site helps communities get organized and find direction for their wildfire safety efforts. Like the first rungs on a ladder, the criteria help get a community started toward annual, systematic action to reduce their risks from brush, grass, and forest fires.
Learn about wildfire
As people go through the process, they learn about wildfire risks in the community and the simple things they can do to reduce them. They connect with experts – local firefighters, state forestry professionals, and national researchers – to continue to learn about fire and find resources to accomplish fire-safe actions.Get peace of mind
People who work with experts to learn about wildfires and take action start to see results quickly. Knowing that they are using the best information available and actually taking steps to reduce the risk of damage from fire helps people start to feel safer in their environment and in their homes. Having a plan for what to do in the event of fire helps people become calmer and more prepared to act quickly.Community-building
As neighbors get together to do work, often meeting one another for the first time, they build a stronger bond with each other. Activity can help rally people to a common cause for the good of the neighborhood. This strengthening of community ties can benefit residents in many ways and is especially helpful during an emergency.
Build citizen pride
While the work can be fun, it isn’t always easy. Neighbors work very hard in communities to remove brush and debris, clean up common areas, and dispose of green waste. They are rightly proud when they achieve national recognition for their efforts.Get publicity
The program provides communities with metal signs, a plaque, and other materials that can be presented publicly to honor their status as a Firewise USA® recognition site. These recognition ceremonies are great ways to shine the spotlight on community efforts.
Access to funding and assistance
Preference is sometimes given to Firewise USA® sites over other candidates when allocations of grant money are made for wildfire safety or fuel mitigation. The reason is that there are invariably more requests than available funds when grants are available through state or federal agencies. If requests are equally worthy, some officials tend to have more confidence in communities that have demonstrated the foresight of becoming a recognized Firewise USA® site.Insurance discount for USAA members in certain states
The Departments of Insurance in the states of California, Colorado, Texas, Arizona, Oregon, New Mexico, and Utah have approved filings by USAA to give homeowners insurance discounts to USAA members living in communities recognized by the Firewise USA® program. How to prepare your home for wildfires