The benefit of Firewise is that many communities already meet the requirements and don’t even know it! The Firewise program has a couple minimum requirements, but primarily provides a structural framework for communities to get organized. How communities meet those requirements is entirely up to them. Every community is different so communities should undertake the Firewise process in a way that works best for their community. The Santa Barbara County Fire Safe Council can help you and your community prepare your application.
Eligibility: There is one minimum requirement in order to go forward with the Firewise process that almost all communities will meet – The Firewise community needs to be made up of a minimum of 8 dwelling units (e.g., homes, apartment units) and no more than 2,500 dwelling units.
The Firewise program is split into two phases: the “Application Process” and “Maintaining Firewise Recognition”. Below is a brief overview, but click HERE for more detailed information about the two phases.
Form a committee of residents and wildfire stakeholders. This group will collaborate on developing the communities risk reduction priorities, develop a multi-year action plan based on the risk assessment, oversee the completion of the annual renewal requirements, and help accomplish items listed in the action plan.
a) Draw a site boundary indicating the homes and current or proposed vegetation management zones within your community.
b) Conduct a risk assessment to examine defensible space, ember resistant features of the home, and general community scale wildfire risks. The assessment is an important piece of the Firewise USA application process that will help identify and guide your priorities and activities.
c) Develop a 3-year action plan outlining actions the community will take or would like to take to reduce community level wildfire risk, in addition to recommendations for homeowners and suggested education activities that participants will strive to complete annually or over the period of multiple years.
a) Host at least 1 community education activity per year. This can include discussing wildfire preparedness at the community’s annual meeting, conducting a practice evacuation, or handing out a wildfire information packet to new community members.
b) Volunteer hours: Every household must complete a minimum of 1 volunteer hour on an activity that reduces wildfire risk in your community or on your property. Every household already far exceeds this minimum requirement. This can include yard work such as raking leaves, buying a metal doormat, paying a landscaper, assisting on the Firewise application, or attending a presentation from a firefighter.
c) Estimate the amount of vegetation removed in the community in common areas and resident’s homes. Firewise does NOT require a minimum amount of vegetation removal.
Maintaining Firewise Recognition
Record and report 1) the community education activities completed, 2) volunteer hours and finances spent on wildfire risk mitigation activities in the community, and 3) removed vegetation within the community common areas and resident’s properties.