Firewise Communities USA
Firewise communities work together with local, state, federal and private agencies and organizations in the promotion and protection of wildlands and urban environments. Fire crews don’t have enough time to protect homes in wildfire situations. When properly prepared, the house may be able to survive wildfire risks without the intervention of the fire authorities. In fact houses and their surrounding communities may have the same Firewise characteristics as their ecosystem. The Firewise Community/USA Program enables communities across the country to provide a safe environment for firefighters from the wildland and suburban interfaces.
Firewise Community - Ready for Wildfires
This recognition program was created to help neighbors find ways to increase fire protection in areas of their geographic location to reduce hazard from wildfires and to reduce the risk of wildfires. The program has helped California prepare its communities for wildfires and also works as a resource for community fire prevention.
Tell me the reason for firewise? – Monterey County Fire Safety Council
Firewise USA® provides a program aimed at helping communities adapt to the risks from burning fires and encourage neighboring communities to collaborate and act to reduce losses. MCFSC provides workshops for neighborhoods and communities seeking Firewise recognition.
What is a Firewise community?
Fire wise communities are those that are doing what's needed to reduce damage from a fire. Firewise provides an online tool kit and checklists which includes Firewise advice checklists for home owners on Firewise.com.
What is a Firewise community in California?
FirewiseUSA® empowers neighbors to work together to minimize fire risks.
What does Firewise mean?
What is the meaning of Firewise? Firewise means being safe in proximity to a fire-dependent natural area. This mainly involves fire-wise principles used to protect homes, including landscaping planning and vegetation management. Can I find a safe place for my family?
National Fire Protection Association NFPA
The Department of Forestry and Fire Management participates in National Fire Protection Association's Firewise USA™ program. The program teaches people how to adapt to live with wildfire. As a homeowner, there are simple things you can do to reduce the risk of your property from wildfire.
Wildfire Safety & Preparedness Fair for Monterey, California
On June 18th, the Robles Firewise Group hosted the second annual “Wildfire Safety & Prepare Fair” at the Community Park in Carmel Valley Village. This free event welcomed over 300 people from throughout Monterey County to learn about how to prepare for the possibility for wildfires and how to “harden” their homes and businesses. The term “hardening” refers to ways to reduce the likelihood of a wildfire destroying a home. This educational event featured over 35 agencies and vendors that provide guidance and advice on preparing for what seems inevitable as each year wildfires become increasingly historic. This event represented an opportunity for businesses and homeowners to go on “offense” against wildfire by offering a vast assortment of educational guidance and tools.
Robles Firewise USA Program
The Wildfire Safety & Prepare Fair was hosted by Robles Firewise Group (RoblesFirewise.org), a chapter of the Firewise USA program created by the National Association of Fire Protection (NFPA.org). Robles Firewise Group (RFG) was formed less than two years ago and was the first Firewise USA chapter in Monterey County along with Rancho Tierra Grande. RFG has partnered with the Fire Safe Council of Monterey County to encourage and educate other communities to become chapters. There are now over 20 Firewise USA chapters in Monterey County, most forming in the last year.
Wildfire Risks Education
The Firewise Safety and Prepare Fair ran from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Park in Carmel Valley Village and included many of the public sector agencies within Monterey County to educate and encourage the use of available services. All of the public and non-profit agencies were provided space free of charge. A sampling of public and nonprofit agencies represented was:
Monterey County Regional Fire District
Monterey County Regional Fire District – Special credit goes to Deputy Chief Kevin Kamnikar who has been instrumental in helping RFG as well as all other Firewise USA chapters with their required documentation to become certified. The MCRFD set up an obstacle course and activities for kids to participate in and learn about being a member of a fire department.
Big Sur and Cachagua Local Fire Department
Big Sur and Cachagua Fire Departments – These two, mostly volunteer, departments are beneficiaries of our online auction fundraiser. The expectations are that each of these two agencies will receive over $3,000 from the auction efforts.
All Firewise Community USA Chapters
All Firewise USA Chapters – One site was dedicated to all the other Firewise USA chapters to talk with neighbors and further build this community. It was encouraging to see how many people are enthusiastic about becoming engaged in their chapter or starting one for their neighborhood.
Salinas Local Fire Department
Salinas Fire Department provided the sound system and brought along “Sparky the Dog” to entertain the audience.
Fire Safe Council of Monterey County
Fire Safe Council of Monterey County – FSCMC has been a key partner in the development of Firewise USA chapters. In fact, they were the ones that introduced the concept to the founders of the Robles Firewise Group.
To provide a sense of the event, here is a short list of some of the other agencies and nonprofits providing solutions: American Red Cross, Community Emergency Response Teams, Monterey County Regional Parks District, Cal Fire, SPCA, Monterey County Sheriff, Carmel Valley Garden Club, and Monterey County Office of Emergency Services.
Beyond the public and nonprofit agencies participating, we had a number of for profit vendors that offered an array of solutions. These vendors paid a modest fee to participate, which helped offset the cost of renting the park and other set-up expenses. Here is a sampling of the creative solutions offered by the vendors:
waveGUARD: waveGUARD offers a sophisticated sprinkler system that is installed around the perimeter of a building. It has the ability to activate when the risk of fire is imminent to a structure and automatically deploys an environmentally safe fire retardant.
Tope’s Tree Service: Beyond trimming trees and clearing areas around a structure, Tope’s has just procured and displayed a remote operated vehicle capable of clearing brush on slopes up to 60 degrees. This small tractor-like machine was purchased from Italy. It is the perfect solution for clearing coyote brush, chaparral, poison oak, and small trees in difficult terrain.
Fire Safe Signs – This firm travelled from Marin to display and sell signs that help fire personnel quickly identify a property and learn about characteristics such as pools, clearances, handicaps, and animals.
Vulcan Vents: provides a technologically advanced vent replacement solution for attics, foundations, etc. These vents prevent embers from entering spaces that can cause a structure to ignite from within. The vents have the ability to completely seal when the heat rises to a dangerous temperature.
In addition, here is a sampling of the other for profit vendors that provided solutions: Family Wildfire Survival Equipment, Bleck Fire Protection, Pacific Wildfire Management, and Valley Hills Nursery.
During the event, there was a steady stream of presentations from the organizations present to further the educational experience. A sampling of presenters was:
Jaime Tuitele-Lewis from Monterey County that discussed the recent grant for $3,200,000 for firebreaks and other fire protection activities within Carmel Valley. This grant is expected to begin in 2023 and continue until 2025.
Mary Adams, County Supervisor recognizing the efforts of Firewise chapters and the value of a community oriented event like this one.
Santa Lucia Preserve: Biodiversity-friendly defensible space
SPCA on evacuation of large and small animals
waveGUARD on their sprinkler solution with demonstrations
Fire Safe Council on how to become a Firewise USA community
Plus several others.
Firewise community Donations
The event also included an online auction with donations from over 100 local and regional companies. The proceeds of this auction benefit Big Sur Fire Brigade, Cachagua Volunteer Fire Department, and Firewise USA chapters. Many items were auctioned at or over their retail value, which is a testament to donor support of our causes. In total, over $12,000 was raised. We expect that in excess of $3,000 will go to Big Sur and Cachagua fire departments to help support their efforts in remote areas.
All in all, the Firewise Safety and Prepare Fair was an outstanding opportunity for the community to learn more about living in a wildfire susceptible area. Efforts were made to reach potential guests throughout Monterey County and as far away as Santa Cruz. Advertisements were posted in the Santa Cruz Sentinel, Monterey County Herald, Monterey County Weekly, and the Carmel Pine Cone. Banners in English and Spanish were posted in two locations along with three other banners. Promotional materials were printing in English and Spanish and distributed to over 25 locations including gas stations, thrift stores, churches, assisted living facilities and bulletin boards. All participating agencies were encouraged to bring materials in Spanish if available.
The Robles Firewise Group was proud to put on this extraordinary event open to all as it works to fulfill the mission of Firewise USA of educating and empowering communities regarding wildfire awareness and prevention.