What does it take to be a Wildfire Community Preparedness Day super hero? It takes a little dedication, planning, and good old-fashioned elbow grease to help organize residents in neighborhoods and communities to complete wildfire safety projects that help make their homes and areas safer from wildfire loss. We want to thank State Farm for their support of these on the ground efforts.
In their own words we hear from a few of the communities about their success:
Lakeview Property Owners Association in Nevada
Thanks to the funds we received, we were able to conduct our annual community clean-up day. This event is a collaboration of the Lakeview Property Owners Association (LVPOA) and the Carson City Fire Department (CCFD).
In mid-April, the LVPOA distributed a flyer door-to-door to all 230 homes with details of the event, encouraging all to participate. In advance of the event, residents cleaned up their own property by collecting pine needles and cones and removing sage brush and other green waste to clean up their defensible space, including the debris in rain gutters and around the base of their house. This was all placed on tarps located curbside. On the clean up day, the CCFD and eight community volunteers traveled on a pre-arranged route to each participating household, loading the debris into trailers. The debris is then taken to the slash pile collected at the local dump. A picnic lunch was served immediately following the event.
The results were our best yet: 23 households participated, removing 13,200 pounds of potentially hazardous wildfire fuels from our community. Grant funds were used for printing the event flyers, purchasing work gloves and refreshments for volunteers and the CCFD crew, with additional gloves donated to the fire department's trailer program, and to provide lunch during the picnic. CCFD bears the majority of costs for our event with the use of their crew, trailers and covering the dump fees.
Major’s Ranch in Huerfano County, Colorado
(ASIP) Assessing Structure Ignition Potential From Wildfire education and assessments
Over 50 attendees had arrived under Colorado blue skies with temperature in the upper 60s, greeted by their neighbors and welcomed by good food and cold drinks.
The first presenter, Paul Gomez Fire Chief for the Upper Huerfano Fire Protection District, gave a first- hand account of his experiences during the Spring Creek Fire both in its early stages and later when the fire spread to north of Highway 160. Supplementing his presentation were both still and video images, which served to reinforce Paul’s narrative regarding size of this fire and the effectiveness of mitigation.
Paul Branson was our second spokesman who added a tact to our ongoing message regarding mitigation to discuss Assessment of the Structural Ignition Potential (ASIP) of our homes and how it was vital to think both in terms of preparing a defensive perimeter, as well as hardening of our homes against embers. There were images available showing some convincing scenes of ember- ignited homes burning within a ring of green and un-burnt vegetation. Supplementing that were several drone videos of homes lost within Majors Ranch where the post fire forensics either suggest or clearly point to a home lost to embers rather than being lost to a high intensity fire. Drone footage was also employed to give our landowners a new perspective on what a properly mitigated home or property look like from 100’.
Chris Dotter demonstrated to the crowd the effectiveness of his forestry mulcher first on a pile of slash and then on a standing tree. The effect on the audience was the desired one: that piece of equipment can accomplish in minutes what it normally takes us landowners hours to accomplish. It was a fitting end to and informative day.
Funding used to harden a home
We completed the 1/8th inch mesh on the apex of the roof and screened in the porch. We hung the banner on the fence, facing the county road and posted pictures and encouragement on Facebook. We talked to our neighbor, Dan Yoder, who is also in the Firewise Community group.
We are so thrilled that we received the funding and we know that it was what encouraged us to complete these necessary tasks.
Sunday Canyon Community, Texas
Becoming a recognized Firewise site and improving community access roads
Sunday Canyon is a small rural community of about 60 homes, 30 of which are full-time residents and 30 part-time residents, with another 60 or so undeveloped lots, on the rim of Palo Duro Canyon. Even though most of the residents here are between the ages of 50 and 70, we got the job done. We planned two major workdays, with a community education program presented by the Texas A&M Forest Service and luncheon thrown in as well. The majority of the volunteers worked on the first workday, but there was a group of us that spent about three weeks on the project.
Our community is full of junipers and mesquite, and we had three major goals. First and foremost, we needed to reduce the number of trees on the main road to our community. If on fire, the fire departments said it would be impassable. We reduced this line to one tree every 30 feet for a half mile. Success! The second goal was to do the same inside the community along the easements and around power poles. We marked and cut the worst offenders, but we will continue this task in the fall and following years as an ongoing project. And last but not least, we assisted some of our residents with creating a defensible space and tree trimming if they were not able to do it themselves. We were blessed with the help of the Texas A&M Forest Service that came to chip all of the trees for us.
It was a great success, and we are already talking about a fall clean-up day.
Scenes from other successful projects