Firewise USA 2023 program recap highlights community efforts

May 23, 2024

New communities join Firewise USA in 2023

As reported by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), there are 44.8 million homes across approximately 70,000 communities in the wildland/urban interface (WUI) in the United States.

The past couple of years, including events like the Smokehouse Creek Fire in Texas, have underscored the importance of resident preparation for wildfire.

In 2023, 329 new communities joined the Firewise USA Recognition Program.

These communities formed committees with residents and local wildfire experts, completed community wildfire risk assessments, and developed three-year action plans.

These plans prioritize actions to improve defenses against embers and surface fires.

Additionally, communities met annual investment requirements by completing educational outreach and risk reduction actions, with investments based on the number of homes within the community boundary.

Continued efforts of Firewise USA communities

Communities already participating in the Firewise USA program continued their efforts in 2023.

By the end of the year, 2,283 communities held the status of “In Good Standing.” These communities collectively worked 3 million hours, with 74 percent of that work focused on the home and home ignition zones.

Financially, over $94 million was spent on chippers, contractors, and home improvement costs, totaling over $211 million when combined with volunteer hours and monetary expenditures.

The NFPA noted the passion of community members in their efforts to enhance wildfire preparedness.

This community involvement is essential in maintaining and growing the Firewise USA program’s impact.

Community-driven success stories

NFPA Wildfire program specialist Megan Fitzgerald-McGowan shared firsthand stories of the achievements within Firewise communities.

One notable example is The Ridge Condominium in Spokane, Washington.

Unlike typical communities, this group of two-story condominiums lacks individual yards but is situated atop a steep slope with dense vegetation.

After a fire prompted the community leadership to collaborate with the Washington State Department of Natural Resources, they implemented hillside treatments and resident education.

Residents were encouraged to clean up porches to remove ember receptors and volunteered for future cleanup events.

At a community meeting, residents actively engaged in discussions about wildfire preparedness and protection measures, showcasing their commitment to fire safety.

Looking forward to 2024

The NFPA expressed pride in the accomplishments of Firewise USA communities in 2023 and looks forward to continued progress in 2024.

The dedication and collaborative efforts of residents and local partners remain pivotal in enhancing wildfire preparedness and safety across the nation.

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