The Firewise USA program is an opportunity for residents to work together to improve wildfire safety in their community. Get to know your neighbors through social events, neighborhood walks, evacuation drills and wildfire safety meetings. Find out who needs help and work together to provide assistance.
All Firewise Sites can improve wildfire safety in their community by taking the following actions:
Universal Firewise Actions
- Develop and maintain a comprehensive contact list of residents
- Hold regular meetings – we recommend at least quarterly
- Promote Wildfire Education – utilize Fire Safe Marin resources
- Encourage participation in bi-annual chipper day events
- Hold an annual neighborhood walk to reassess hazards and note areas still needing improvement
- Hold an annual evacuation drill
- Work with your local fire department to report serious hazards
When you are starting a new Firewise Site, it can be helpful to place an announcement for a kickoff meeting or a solicitation for board members in Next Door and/or an HOA or similar local newsletter. Other options might include hosting a table at a neighborhood event, placing door hangers (Fire Safe Marin will provide) or simply knocking on doors to introduce yourself. Try to get email addresses for all contacts and create a master email list that you can use to announce meetings, educational events, drills or important wildfire safety information.
With the advent of Zoom it has become much easier to hold meetings. Meetings are an excellent opportunity to hear the concerns of neighbors, provide wildfire education, and organize activities like neighborhood walks, evacuation drills, and promotion of chipper days. We recommend that you meet at least quarterly.
Fire Safe Marin has many resources that will help you to deliver wildfire safety information. During your regular meeting show one of the videos available on our website or YouTube channel. Many of these are short but informative. At the conclusion of he video, facilitate a discussion to find out what people think about the information provided. It is best to choose a video that has suggested actions for homeowners to encourage residents to take action to make their families and property safer. If questions are raised that you cannot answer, just send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and we will provide you with the information you need. Another idea would be to host a Wildfire Watch party. The show will likely stimulate some interesting discussion, you can get to know your neighbors and you can have some fun socializing.
The MWPA Curbside Chipper Program is a great way to get residents to reduce fuels, improve defensible space and begin to create a fire smart landscape. Each Firewise Site should aggressively promote the program and encourage reluctant neighbors to participate in the cleanup. This is also an opportunity for neighbors to help a resident who may be unable physically or financially to cleanup their property.
Encourage residents to participate in an annual neighborhood walk. For best success, combine this with a social activity like a BBQ or coffee and donuts. Get to know each other. You do not need to be a wildfire expert to lead the walk. You are simply looking to see if their is visible improvement to wildfire safety. Are more homeowners removing overgrown vegetation? Is there less flammable material close to homes (Zone 0 – the first 5 ft.)? On larger properties is there more cleared defensible space for firefighters to protect homes? Are problems in open space areas being addressed? If you see something that needs further explanation, simply take some photos and send to email@example.com and we will get back to you with comments. If you see an obvious hazard, please contact your local fire department.
All Firewise Sites should hold an annual evacuation drill. The purpose of these drills is to get residents to think about what they would do if they had to evacuate. This typically leads them to take actions like signing up for Alert Marin, packing a Go Bag, safe guarding important documents, etc.
Evacuation Practice Templates and Tips
Local Fire Department
Please report serious concerns about hazards to your local fire department. They will send someone to investigate. When possible, get to know the wildfire prevention personnel assigned to your neighborhood. They are a valuable resource. For routine questions or information, feel free to contact Fire Safe Marin at firstname.lastname@example.org.