How can Firewise work in your community - Firewise

FireWise Minnesota

The process

  1. Initial contact - Firewise specialist meets with at least one community member and discusses community hazards, how Firewise can help mitigate hazards, and who should be involved in the process. Community receives packet of information. Powerpoint presentation to more than one community member.
  2. Assessment - At second meeting, Firewise specialist explains the assessment options and assists with a grant request.
    1. Level 1 Assessment - Digital Aerial Photo interpretation locating all homes in the community and rating homes 1-5 based on proximity to trees. Software & digital photos provided to community free. Can be done by:
      1. Fire Department Personnel
      2. Other community staff
      3. High School Students
      4. Eagle Scout project
      5. Contractor
      6. Other
    2. Level 2 Assessment - House by house assessment of 24 factors from access to structure design to site characteristics. Done on high risk areas identified in level 1 or by local knowledge. Entire community may be done if resources allow. This information used to determine mitigation strategies needed. (E.g. access improvements, structure modification, site modification).
    3. Grant request for 50:50 cost-share funding for assessment & planning, education & mitigation activities. Initial grant request may be for a small amount ($15,000) until Firewise Action Plan is developed. A second grant to implement more of the plan would then be submitted.
  3. Stakeholder meetings - A meeting of key stakeholders in the community is held either before, or shortly after the assessment is completed. This group would become the Community Firewise Committee. It could be made up of:
    1. the community emergency manager (fire chief), planner, development coordinator & forester;
    2. a key developer or builder;
    3. a resource manager from any park or other managed open space in the community
    4. a local legislator
    5. a representative from a local civic organization (lions, rotary?)
    6. others as deemed necessary by the community
      1. Meetings of Community Firewise Committee to develop plan (see IV)
      2. Meetings with affected homeowners to inform and gain their input
  4. Plan development - completed by the Community Firewise Committee with input from other stakeholders as needed.
    1. Review assessment information to determine risk areas for mitigation
    2. Decide which actions the community will undertake (i.e.: road improvements, zoning revisions)
    3. Decide which actions homeowners need to undertake (i.e.: thinning pine)
    4. Decide what educational activities need to be done (i.e.: newsletter article)
    5. Submit an additional grant request as needed
  5. Implementation - getting the work done!
    1. Community actions - some suggested actions by the community:
      1. Improving access to developments (road width to 20 feet, emergency secondary access, improving road signage, e911 signage)
      2. Improving water resources (installing dry hydrants or cistern systems for fire protection)
      3. Developing community firebreaks adjacent to wildland areas prone to fire
      4. Adopting firewise building and zoning regulations & fire restrictions
      5. Educating citizens through newspaper & newsletter articles, open houses, personal contacts and other methods.
    2. Homeowner actions
      1. Fuel reduction such as thinning & pruning conifers and planting deciduous to break up fuel continuity.
      2. Access improvements such as widening & pruning up driveway and improving visibility of address signage
      3. Seasonal maintenance such as mowing & watering lawn, removing leaves from gutters and foundation plantings, and moving firewood pile away from house.
      4. Building improvements such as enclosing foundations, decks & soffits and using fire-resistant materials when re-roofing and residing.
  6. Reporting - submitting invoices and reports for grant compliance
    1. All assessment information to be shared with DNR for statewide analysis and planning
    2. Invoices to be submitted as quarterly or annual grant funding reimbursement to the community (the community will pay all bills to contractors, etc. directly). Community may receive an up-front payment.
    3. Community required to track in-kind and dollar match
    4. Simple report of accomplishments required annually.

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