When it comes to natural disasters and tragedies, most people opt for complete avoidance. But what should you do when it is not a matter of avoidance, but minimizing risk? Most experts will agree that being prepared to adapt to the expected conditions is the best plan:
Whole communities in Florida and the southeast have adapted to hurricanes; people and communities in the central Plains and Midwest have adapted to the threat of tornados; communities in the northern Plains, the Rockies and New England have adapted to annual winter storms. And if you live in an area where wildfires are a potential reality, your community should have a known plan of action to help mitigate loss or damage. How does a community, though, adapt to wildfire, or become fire adapted?
Nearly 70,000 US communities are at risk of suffering some level of damaged from wildfires. The Forest Service’s Fire Adapted Communities Program addresses wildland urban interface fire issues using new and existing tools. A fire adapted community (FAC) is a knowledgeable and engaged community in which the awareness and actions of residents regarding infrastructure, buildings, landscaping, and the surrounding ecosystem lessens the need for extensive protection actions and enables the community to safely accept fire as a part of the surrounding landscape.
There are numerous resources and tools available for communities and community leaders, including: Firewise and similar programs; plan development information for a Community-Wide Protection Plan (CWPP), plus the Ready, Set, Go! Program available at the link on the International Association of Fire Chiefs page; plus other state and local resources.
Awareness, prevention and cooperation are the most valuable tools you and your community can use during wildfire season. Find out what your community already does and has already planned to find out how you can best understand and support those efforts.