National Wildfire Community Preparedness Day is Saturday, May 2, 2015
Participating in this second annual event will help raise awareness and reduce wildfire risk for your home, property, neighborhood and community.
April 1, 2015 - Author: Elaine M. Bush, Michigan State University Extension
On May 3, 2014, the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) and State Farm co-sponsored the first ever National Wildfire Community Preparedness Day (WCP). More than 100 projects were conducted in 80 communities across the country. Projects ranged from educational displays and distribution of printed materials to work teams raking leaves and other ground litter or pruning and chipping downed branches in neighborhoods. To encourage participation in the 2014 inaugural event, a contest offered $500 awards to 20 community projects with funding provided by State Farm.
This year State Farm has increased their financial support to fund $500 awards to 65 projects and Fire Adapted Communities (FAC) is joining NFPA and State Farm in promoting this day of wildfire prevention activities. Communities entering this year’s contest had to complete a brief online application that provided a short overview of their project including its benefits, described who would be participating, listed the city and state where the project was being conducted, and indicated how the $500 award would be used. A NFPA panel reviewed 338 applications representing 37 different states in early March and announced the 2015 winners on March 9.
As they did last year, organizers have offered a list of project ideas and a tip sheet that reviews safety gear and other safety-related recommendations. The project list includes activities that can be completed without using power tools or expense so that even young children can easily and safely take part in protecting their neighborhood from wildfire. There is no minimum length of time required for a WCP project on May 2. Whether you spend two hours or all day, you have contributed to increasing wildfire awareness, protecting homes and making it safer for firefighters during future wildfires.
Visit the resources page to download flyers, postcards and the official preparedness day logo to use in publicizing your event. For the Internet-savvy, links are provided for following WCP on social media. Whether you are an individual spending the day cleaning up around your home or a group involved in a larger project, you are encouraged to post photos or a video of what you have accomplished once your project is complete on the Firewise Facebook page.
NFPA also conducted an hour-long virtual workshop on March 12 sharing project ideas and success stories from last year and explaining how interested communities could access their free promotional resources. A recording of the webinar was made to allow those unable to participate in the live event to view it at their convenience. For more information about the 2015 WCP events, you may also contact Cathy Prudhomme at email@example.com.
Communities that want to expand wildfire prevention efforts beyond WCP activities on May 2 might consider the Firewise Communities/USA Recognition program. Currently, there are 1,086 communities that have completed the five-step process necessary to obtain recognition in the U.S. Applications must be submitted to your state’s Firewise liaison. In Michigan, that person is Dan Laux, Michigan Department of Natural Resources Wildfire Prevention Specialist. To maintain their recognition status, communities file a brief report each year describing the activities that occurred on their annual Firewise day. At this point, Ausable River Estates in Roscommon County is the only Michigan community to have achieved this designation. If you have additional questions or want to learn more about the program, contact NFPA at firstname.lastname@example.org or Michigan’s Firewise liaison, Dan Laux, at email@example.com.
Michigan State University Extension can also provide information about landscaping maintenance, forest health, and woodlot management. You can find articles on these and other topics at their website. If you don’t find what you are looking for, the site also provides visitors the option of consulting an Extension expert or contacting your local county Extension office.