Firewise USA Recognition Process
Using the process below, neighborhoods (AKA Firewise “site”) develop an action plan that steers their residential risk reduction activities, while engaging and encouraging their neighbors to become active participants in building a safer plan to live. Neighborhoods throughout the United States are embracing the benefits of becoming a recognized Firewise USA site.
Form a Firewise Board/Committee
Create a Wildfire Risk Assessment
The Firewise USA program is voluntary. Everyone within the site’s boundary will benefit, whether they actively participate or not. While a community risk assessment is part of the requirement for a Firewise USA application, individual home assessments by the Firewise committee are not mandatory. The community risk assessment is intended to document overall, neighborhood conditions visible from common areas, but the Firewise USA committee won’t be looking over fences or into backyards (unless the property owner extends an invitation!). When visible from common areas, the assessment may look at roofing types, general building construction and condition, and general vegetation conditions to help come up with strategies to reduce neighborhood risk.
The assessment is usually conducted by the neighborhood Firewise USA committee with help – while there are defensible space and vegetation management requirements in the fire code, this assessment is not about code enforcement and the assessment itself does not carry any penalties. It will be used only to help inform future risk reduction strategies.
Develop An Action Plan
This should be a prioritized list of risk reduction projects/investments for the participating site, along with suggested homeowner actions and education activities that participants will strive to complete annually, or over a period of multiple years. The submitted action plan should be broken down by year and reflect those goals. As of 2018, the cycle for this is three years as it should be a living document that residents are checking off as they go. As circumstances change (e.g., completing activities, experiencing a fire or a natural disaster, new construction in a community, etc.), the action plan may need to be updated more frequently. Click here to view an example of an Action Plan
Make a Wildfire Risk Reduction Investment
At a minimum, each site is required to annually invest the equivalent of one volunteer hour per dwelling unit in wildfire risk reduction actions. If your site has identified 100 homes within its boundary, than 100 hours of work or the monetary equivalent, based on the independent sector value of volunteer time, need to be completed for that year. Examples of activities that count towards your investment.
The Santa Barbara County Fire Safe Council will help you prepare your application. You may start an application at any point in the overall process by creating a site profile in the Firewise Portal. Once all the criteria has been completed, the electronic application can be submitted. State liaisons will approve applications, with final processing completed by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA).