Become a Firewise Community
Firewise is a cooperative effort among local, state, federal and private agencies and organizations to promote fire safety in the wildland/urban interface. Firefighters do not have the resources to defend every home during a wildfire. When adequately prepared, a house can withstand a wildland fire without the intervention of the fire service. In fact, a house and its surrounding community can be both Firewise and compatible with the area's ecosystem. The Firewise Communities/USA program enables communities in all parts of the United States to achieve a high level of protection against wildland/urban interface fire as well as sustainable ecosystem balance. Firewise Communities/USA program provides residents of the wildland/urban interface with the knowledge and skill necessary to make it happen.
Firewise Communities/USA is a unique opportunity available to fire prone communities. The goal is to encourage and recognize community action that reduces home loss due to the dangers of a wildfire. It provides opportunities to prepare for a fire before it occurs. The program can adapt to small communities, large developments and residential home associations of all types.
Becoming a Firewise Community
- Determine if your community is at risk
Becoming recognized as a Firewise Community/USA begins with your community. A representative within your community can either complete an online form on the Firewise Communities/USA website, or contact either your current Firewise Communities Liaison:
Kelsey Davis, WUI Specialist with Texas A&M Forest Service
Email Kelsey Davis
Or your local fire official:
Joshua Davis, Assistant Chief/Fire Marshal with Leander Fire Department
Email Joshua Davis
Both the wildland/urban interface (WUI) specialist and your local fire officials will assist in completing a community assessment and creating a plan (Community Wildfire Protection Plan) that identifies agreed-upon and achievable solutions to be implemented by the community.
- Organize a Firewise Board
If it is determined the community has homes in the wildland/urban interface that are considered at risk, community representatives will create a multi-discipline Firewise Board, Firewise Task Force or Commission that should include homeowners, fire professionals and/or members of other interest groups such as planners, land managers, and urban foresters.
- Develop a Community Wildfire Protection Plan
Upon completion of the site assessment and evaluation of the community's readiness to withstand a wildland urban interface fire, the WUI specialist schedules a meeting with the local Firewise board. The assessment and evaluation are presented for review and acceptance. If the site assessment and evaluation are acceptable, the Firewise board will use them as a basis for developing a Community Wildfire Protection Plan that contains agreed-upon, area-specific solutions to its wildfire issues. Board members should be informed that developing a Community Wildfire Protection Plan (CWPP) can be a six month process.
- Sponsor an event
The Community Wildfire Protection Plan contains specific action items that can be implemented by homeowners with assistance from fire staff or other sources. When they are executed, they are called "Firewise Days." A Firewise Day must be held each year in order to maintain recognition status. Firewise Days can include chipping days, public awareness events, brush cleanup or many other related community activities.
- Invest a minimum of $2 per capita
Firewise Communities are required to quantify their concern about the wildfire issue. To this end, they are willing to invest $2 per capita in Firewise projects each year. This means that in a community of 200 residents, $400 will be invested in projects named in the plan prepared by your Firewise board. Volunteer hours, use of equipment, state or federal grant dollars, and time spent by agency fire staff are examples of what can be included in this figure. More information about this community investment can be found at Firewise Community Investments page. Remember, this recognition does not require an annual or membership fee. This community investment is time and money put directly back into creating and sustaining a safe community.
Receiving Your Certification as a Firewise Community/USA
Firewise Communities/USA recognition status is achieved when the community has completed and signed Community Wildfire Protection Plan and after the community has completed one Firewise project. At that time, a Board member can download the Firewise Communities/USA application form from the program's website. The completed application is to be submitted to the your Firewise Community Liaison. Upon certification by the Texas A&M Firewise Liaison, the Firewise Communities Liaison forwards the completed application to the national Firewise program office. A special ceremony will be held in the community after certification as a Firewise Community/USA with all agencies and organizations involved in your process.
Your recognition is a well deserved and important movement toward your communities safety. Maintaining this recognition is becomes a vital step in sustaining this safety. Your permanent Firewise board is specifically created to address challenge and maintain the program into the future. A mitigation project (reduction of risks to homes) must be completed during the year for recertification. Recognition renewal must be completed by December 31 each year. Recognized communities submit documentation indicating continued community participation to the Firewise Community Liaison. Renewal forms are downloadable at the Firewise website.
See a list of Firewise communities.