An article on a Los Angeles television website mentioned an innovative program being rolled out by the City of Los Angeles. The city is distributing one thousand 45-50 gallon repurposed soda syrup barrels for the purpose of collecting rainwater during the rainy season in this drought stricken Southern California area. The barrels were donated by the Coca Cola Company to “Keep Los Angeles Beautiful”. The barrels will be distributed to residents of Los Angeles who participate in a seminar for harvesting rain water. These seminars are currently full. They will teach residents how to install the rain barrel and other water harvesting techniques.
The water collected by these methods can be used to irrigate the vegetation in the yard and garden during times when it is hot and dry. With 4 years of past drought conditions in some western communities this could make all the difference, maintaining healthy firewise landscape around the home. Installing rain barrels to gutter systems of western drought stricken homes may provide an excellent alternative to providing enough water along with utilizing firewise xeriscape plantings to maintain a nice green zone within the first two Firewise Zones.
If you haven't had a chance yet to view our newest Sparky wildfire videos, I hope you get the chance to check them out soon. We're very excited about them since it's the first time NFPA's spokesdog, Sparky the Fire Dog®, has helped us spread the word about the importance of wildfire safety. And we're glad he did!
In the second video, Sparky shares some simple steps that kids can do with their parents and friends to help keep their neighborhood safer from wildfire. After you've watched it, let us know what you think. I think you'll agree, it's great to have Sparky helping us with safety messaging for our young kids. Like with most lessons, understanding issues and knowing what to do earlier in life helps us better prepare and carve out, a brighter future as we grow older.
Watch our second video, "Sparky's Neighborhood Wildfire Safety Tips for Families" below. Or watch all three together.These short videos are a great conversation starter. Have one today with your youngsters and plan a wildfire safety project together. The third video in our series, “Sparky and NFPA’s Wildfire Safety Checklist” highlights some great activities you can get started on right away.
In my new role as Division Manager with NFPA's Wildland Fire Operations, I'm delighted to welcome two new staff to our Denver and Quincy offices. Tom Welle joins the Denver office as a senior project manager and supervisor. Faith Berry joins the Quincy office as an associate project manager. Both Tom and Faith will contribute to the Division's mission of reducing risks to life and property from wildfire through advocacy, outreach, education, research and codes and standards.
Tom joins NFPA from a career in public service and wildland firefighting. Most recently, he spent more than a decade with Douglas County, Colorado, as a ranger and land management specialist. He has also instructed technical firefighting classes and volunteers with the Colorado Civil Wing Air Patrol.
Faith is familiar to readers of Fire Break as one of NFPA's six Firewise Regional Advisors, contracted with NFPA from 2011 to 2013. Faith has extensive experience in working with communities on fire and land management issues, including work as a firefighter, park ranger, and Fire Safe Council coordinator.
I look forward to working with our expanded team on all of NFPA's wildland fire safety projects and programs.
The videos, “Sparky’s Wildfire Safety Home Projects for Kids and Parents,” “Sparky’s Neighborhood Wildfire Safety Tips for Families” and “Sparky and NFPA’s Wildfire Safety Checklist” feature NFPA’s spokesdog, Sparky the Fire Dog® who teaches young children the importance of wildfire safety.
Each video provides a fun and easy way parents and children can work together to help reduce the risk of wildfire damage to their homes and around their neighborhoods.
The videos complement other youth-related wildfire information including interactive games, quizzes and artwork, and teaching materials. And don't forget, you can share these videos and other great resources with family and friends!
The three award designations include the Fire Adapted Community Fire Service Leadership Award, the Wildfire Mitigation Innovation Award, and the Community Wildfire Preparedness Pioneer Award. Fire departments, community organizations, forestry agencies and other such groups are welcome to nominate a wide variety of activities and programs for these awards, showing impact at the local, regional or national level.
The awards will be presented to winners at the IAFC WUI Conference in Reno, Nevada, in March.On behalf of the awards committee, I hope to see many nominations and a full slate of award winners come spring.
In early August of this year, lightning ignited a wildfire approximately 12 miles northwest of Ellensburg, WA. The fire, fueled by grass, brush and timber, destroyed 19 structures and over 8,800 acres of land. In the fall issue of the Firewise How-To newsletter, Melinda Mays shares her story of how a little foresight and preparedness prevented her family’s cabins from being destroyed by this fire.
Melinda and her husband Tyler’s families each respectively owned property in Kittitas County, which is close to the Ellensburg area. Over the past four years, vegetation around Tyler’s side of the family’s cabin had been routinely thinned by the cost-share program run by the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). And so during this year’s Snag Canyon Fire, although the fire did burn through sections of the thinned land, it stayed mostly on the ground and eventually burned out. Thanks to these preparedness efforts, what could have resulted in a loss of 80 acres of harvestable timber, was instead left untouched.
Melinda’s family, however, owned property on the opposite side of the canyon, where there were no NRCS clean-up efforts yet. She was aware of the dangers of the fire and knew she would likely lose her land and cabin if she did nothing. So she took matters into her own hands and, with the help of her family, piloted clean-up efforts which saved her house.
Read more about Melinda Mays and the steps she took in the fall’s Firewise How-To newsletter.
New research by UCal Berkley on future increases in lightning strikes related to rising global temperatures caused by climate change has been in today’s news on major outlets, including BBC News and National Geographic. The research examines the relationship between temperature, moisture content, and lightning frequency, finding that, “for every two lightning strikes in 2000, there will be three lightning strikes in 2100.”
Lightning is an important part of natural wildfire ecology and had played its part since time began. A possible 50% increase has influence though in the Southwest, Mountain West and Northwest, where a majority of the over 10,000 lightning caused fires occur in the nation. The National Interagency Fire Center's (NIFC) infographic on major lightning caused fires illustrates this well (at right).
Firefighters work in varied and complex environments that increase their risk of on-the-job death and injury. NFPA estimates that 65,880 firefighter injuries occurred in the line of duty in 2013. An estimated 29,760 (45.2%) of the all firefighter injuries occurred during fireground operations.
Each year, NFPA studies firefighter deaths and injuries to provide national statistics on their frequency, extent and characteristics. A better understanding of how these fatalities, nonfatal injuries and illnesses occur can ultimately help identify corrective actions, and in turn could help minimize the inherent risks.