Reducing Wildfire Risk
This means more people than ever are living with heightened wildfire risk.
Wildland Urban Interface (WUI) is the term used to describe areas where homes intermingle with forests and nature, and where wildfire risk is higher. The southern region is home to three of the top four states in the nation with the most WUI.
Just like landowners are responsible for managing their lands, homeowners and communities have a responsibility to manage their property and infrastructure in ways which maximize safety and are compatible with the fire-dependent ecosystems within which we reside.
What’s My Risk?
One of the best strategies for reducing wildfire risk to communities is the development and implementation of a community wildfire protection plan.
State forestry agencies work with community leaders, local emergency managers, fire departments and others to plan and implement Community Wildfire Preparedness Plans (CWPP). The goal is to help communities learn to live with and withstand the impact of wildfires.
A CWPP is unique in that it empowers communities, community leaders and local responders to collaboratively determine the best strategies for each community’s unique set of circumstances. These strategic plans guide community decisions and prioritize actions to decrease identified wildfire hazards. Communities should regularly review and update their CWPP to mark completed actions and address new or ongoing hazards.
Prescribed fire is a safe way to restore a natural process, ensure ecosystem health and resiliency, and reduce wildfire risk.
Wildfires that burn in areas where overgrowth has been reduced by prescribed fire cause less damage and are much easier to control. Prescribed fire, when utilized judiciously can have the biggest impact on protecting our communities and maintaining the fire-dependent ecosystems present in the South.
Prescribed fire is a carefully planned and controlled operation. It has specific objectives, specific parameters and a meticulously carried-out plan, conducted and monitored by trained personnel.
The Firewise USA® program teaches people how to adapt to living with wildfire and work together to reduce risk.
The national Firewise USA® program is a multi-agency effort that involves homeowners, community leaders, planners, developers, and others in the effort to protect people, property, and natural resources from the risk of wildland fire.
Visit the national Firewise website to learn more about how to reduce the risk from wildfire for your community and your home. To conduct a Firewise risk assessment for your home or community, please contact your state forestry agency.
Fire adapted communities is a framework for community wildfire resilience.
There is no “one-size fits all” approach to achieving fire adaptation — each community has different needs, resources and conditions. It happens when local multi-jurisdictional partners work together to identify risk, mitigate it and maintain the work over time.
There is a role for everyone in Fire Adapted Communities. From community members to businesses and utilities to land managers, it is imperative that the whole community is considered when working toward becoming a fire adapted community.
Are you wildfire ready?
The Ready, Set, Go! (RSG) program seeks to empower fire departments to engage the residents they serve in wildland fire community risk reduction. The program provides free tools and resources for fire departments to help educate residents about their wildland fire risk and the actions people can take to reduce their risk.
RSG works in in collaboration with FirewiseUSA® and other existing wildland fire education efforts, amplifying preparedness messages.
Be wildfire ready!
Learn how to reduce smoke exposure before wildfire arrives.
Wildfire smoke and ash can irritate your eyes, nose, throat and lungs, and make it harder to breathe. The most effective way to protect yourself during wildfire emergencies is to stay indoors or limit your time outdoors if smoke is in the air. When indoors, take steps to keep indoor air cool and clean. Consider temporary relocation out of the smoky area if possible. This is especially important for those who are at higher risk for adverse health effects.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has provided several resources on the AirNow website to help residents be smoke ready:
The Community Wildfire Defense Grant (CWDG) program provides support for at-risk communities to develop or revise a Community Wildfire Protection Plan (CWPP) and to implement projects outlined in a CWPP less than 10 years old. CWDG is authorized through the Infrastructure, Investment, and Jobs Act (IIJA) and provides $1 billion for this program over a five-year period. CWDG prioritizes at-risk communities that are in an area identified as having high or very high wildfire hazard potential, are low-income and/or have been impacted by a severe disaster.
Infographics highlighting the many benefits of prescribed fire.
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SouthWRAP provides a consistent, comparable set of scientific results to be used as a foundation for wildfire mitigation and prevention planning in the southern states.
The National Cohesive Wildland Fire Management Strategy is a national effort to work collaboratively among stakeholders to achieve Wildland Fire Management goals.
SouthernWildfire.net is an online resource for southeastern Cohesive Fire Strategy information and news and to provide tools and resources to professionals and the public that can increase landscape resiliency, protect communities and ensure a safe, effective and risk-based fire response.
Fire Adapted Learning Network provides support and networking for people and communities working on wildfire resilience.
Research report on existing messages that are relevant to members of the public who live or work within the WUI.