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NFPA provides resources through the Firewise Communities Program and Fire Adapted Communities initiative (both co-sponsored by the USDA Forest Service) to communities in high risk areas to help residents reduce their risk of wildfire damage to homes and property.
NFPA is a global organization devoted to eliminating death, injury, property and economic loss due to fire, electrical and related hazards. The views expressed on this blog reflect the personal opinion of the individual author and do not necessarily represent the views or policies of NFPA, its technical committees, or other constituent parts. The third home offered students much more of a challenge not just in what needed to be done around the home to reduce risk, which was significant, but also then listen to the instructors as they worked with the homeowner on possible solutions and concerns. So, completing a quality, standardized home assessment is key, but working with that homeowner to take action to reduce the threat to themselves, their home and responding firefighters is where the rubber really meets the road. Backyards and Beyond presenter Jeff Cavanaugh, senior underwriting portfolio manager for USAA, attracted a large crowd to his featured session on insurance discounts for Firewise communities.
USAA began offering the discount in California in October 2014, and the incentive launched in Colorado and Texas in May and June of this year. A huge fan of Firewise, Cavanaugh hopes that the USAA discount and his Backyards and Beyond presentation will prompt other insurance companies to offer similar discounts to Firewise communities. Strong partnerships with the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), the Firewise community, The Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety (IBHS) and others were instrumental in USAA creating the Firewise discount.
As Cavanaugh’s session came to a close, he reminded the audience that it takes a village and thanked them for actively working to reduce fire risks in communities. This community is one of many who have embraced Firewise Principles, and worked collaboratively to work towards having a Year of Living Less Dangerously From Wildfire". In a more conversational setting vs.a formal presentation, participants with diverse backgrounds, but all with a great interest in reaching the youth audience, shared lessons they learned, while sharing ideas and stories about some of the creative and successful ways we can engage this future generation of WUI home buyers.
During the hour, she explained the background of the TakeAction campaign and Community Wildfire Preparedness Day, which began with a series of workshops with youth and their parents that gave NFPA the basis for outlining and planning the campaign including messaging and the platform in which to reach them. Wrapping up, Prudhomme explained new youth projects that are underway at NFPA and will be launched in 2016 including virtual tours and additional videos. Fast forward to 2015 and Bramwell explained that the fires of today very much mimic the wildfire problems in the 19th century.
The more that people are aware of the fire problem where they live, the more they will come to realize that fire fighters can't save all of their homes and that they should take action.
Through the Cooperative Forest Fire Prevention (CFFP) Program, the USDA Forest Service, the National Association of State Foresters (NASF), and the Advertising Council sponsor the national Smokey Bear Awards to recognize outstanding service in the prevention of human caused wildfires and to increase public recognition and awareness of the need for continuing wildfire prevention efforts.

This year, the highest honor, the Golden Smokey Bear Award, was given out to its deserving honoree at our Backyards & Beyond Conference. Gwen, we are honored to share in the celebration of you and all of your outstanding wildfire prevention efforts, and congratulate you wholeheartedly on winning the Golden Smokey Bear Award! Back in February, three Boise firefighters went down to Austin to share best practices and learn from each other as it relates to fire adapted communities and risk reduction. The camaraderie between the firefighters from the two cities helped to make the learning and sharing of information fun, as well as helped make a comfortable environment where everyone felt comfortable to ask questions and get as much out of the time as possible.
Portie pointed to the Bastrop Complex Fire, the most catastrophic fire in the state's history, the Pinnacle Fire and Steiner Ranch Fire and others for being a huge catalyst for the department to increase its efforts to provide more education to homeowners about their role in reducing risk. While the wildfire problem is complex, we do know that local behavior change and resident safety action can begin to change outcomes, and continuing to encourage communities to take steps to reduce their risk is important. Jim also hopes that if there is anything NFPA can do to help support efforts to raise awareness and reduce wildfire risks, that people come to us and ask. As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. We deliver information and knowledge through codes and standards, research, training, and education, outreach and advocacy. One home was pretty good in terms of wildfire risk and gave students the opportunity to see how that homeowner could then model for others and perhaps engage in neighbor to neighbor interaction on a positive level to reduce risk beyond one or two homes, a basic tenet of Firewise.
Arizona will become the 4th active state in February; and there are plans to offer the insurance savings in six more states – Washington, Oregon, Nevada, New Mexico, Idaho and Utah. He explained that insurance companies know that mitigation works; and reminded the audience that consumers have a lot of power and can influence business with their buying choices. Cavanaugh’s team looked at fire trend data in California, Colorado, Texas and Arizona, did some modeling, and visited communities so that they could convince top USAA executives to offer a discount off insurance premiums.
Through a lively question and answer session, Prudhomme also detailed the components of the campaign like wildfire community service projects and pet safety, and showed a handful of videos that became a large part of the social media launch of TakeAction.
After the session, participants stayed to ask more questions and exchange information and numbers! Raising awareness and educating people that fires do exist here and will continue to happen, is imperative, he says, we can't assume that wildfire is only a western problem anymore. And the more we as professionals collaborate with each other, and talk to residents, the more we can create safer places for all of us to live when the threat of wildfire comes our way.

The Smokey Bear Awards are the highest national honor one can receive for outstanding work and significant program impact in wildfire prevention.
Gene Kodama with the South Carolina Forestry Commission, Jim Hubbard with the USDA Forest Service and Fred, the nominator, presented Gwen Hensley with this year's award. Creating a collaborative environment where mutual learning and shared knowledge could flow back and forth between the two cities was one of the main goals of this exchange program. Both departments were able to get new ideas (shaded fuel breaks in Austin and Firewise gardens in Boise) that they were interested in implementing back home, as well as new ways to outreach to the public, carry out wildfire fighting tactics, mitigate landscapes, etc. At the same time, research from organizations such as IBHS also help inform them with the latest fire science and data so firefighters can more effectively fight the fire. Homeowners can and should play a key role in helping save their homes by engaging in Firewise and defensible space techniques.
We are currently living through severe drought conditions and rising temperatures that are transforming a region's typical wildfire season into a year-round problem, Jim began by explaining.
He reminds us that sharing knowledge and experience will help each other do more to create safer communities, and realizes that this conference is one way to do that. The joint effort led to the introduction of the USAA Firewise Community Recognition Discount, a premium discount that supports the goal of rewarding and incentivizing preparation and loss prevention efforts at the parcel and community level.
His session, and a few other presentations at the conference, emphasized that insurance companies are playing an increasingly active role in proactive reduction of wildfire loss.
Wildfire risk reduction is therefore just as important in the east and should not be ignored. This merit award has been bestowed on well-deserving groups and individuals annually since 1957. So reported Josh Portie, a first responder and wildfire division public educator in the Austin, Texas Fire Department in his Thursday afternoon session at Backyards & Beyond conference in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. Firefighters can also do more to help save homes by engaging in more structural preparation and working with residents on their wildfire  home assessments. So we share in Jim's thoughts by welcoming everyone to this year's conference, we look forward to a great week!

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  • 13.12.2014, admin

Comments »

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