What is Firewise?
Firewise USA is a national program hosted by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA): https://www.nfpa.org/Public-Education/Fire-causes-and-risks/Wildfire/Firewise-USA.
Firewise USA is a framework that helps neighbors work together in a community to reduce wildfire risk, through education and collaboration. Local Fire Safe Councils in the South Bay area promote the Firewise USA recognition process as a way for communities in the WUI (Wildland-Urban Interface) to reduce their wildlfire risk. This includes education pieces for helping neighbors to work together on defensible space, home hardening, evacuation planning and more.
What are the benefits?
Community wildfire risk can be reduced by neighbors working together.
Participation is voluntary.
Increases good will with first responders, providing safer access
Increases community communication, collaboration and emergency preparedness
Potential consideration by home insurance companies (USAA and Mercury)
Potential access to grant money
What is the process?
Six steps to becoming Firewise USA recognized for the first year:
- Form a steering committee with a few proactive neighbors
- Collect neighborhood data for a Community Risk Assessment, and complete the assessment with input from a local a Fire Professional.
- Prepare a Multi-Year Plan, using observations from the Community Risk Assessment and neighborhood priorities
- Complete one community education event related to wildfire risk reduction
- Meet the minimum community investment criteria (1 hour or $25 per household for the year)
- Create a Firewise USA portal account, complete and submit your application.
How do FireSafe Councils help?
Fire Safe Council of Santa Cruz County is an all volunteer organization. We seek to support communities interested in the Firewise USA process in these ways:
- Provide a “Why Go Firewise” community presentation to help start the process
- Provide email support and coaching, as time permits
- Online resources for education
- Potential to network with leaders from other Firewise communities
Firewise USA Recognized Communities in Santa Cruz County
Redwood Drive/Cathedral (2020)
Viewpoint Road (2021)
Santa Cruz Mountains (including Bonny Doon)
Las Cumbres (2019)
Riva Ridge (2019)
Sunset Ridge Road (2019)
Marty Road (2020)
Terrace Grove (2020)
Bird Streets (2021) - Bonny Doon
Ellen Roads (2021)
Hutchinson Road (2021)
Westdale Firewise (2021) - Bonny Doon
TangleWood Neighborhood (2020) - Felton
Forest Lakes (2021) – Felton
Lost Acre-Valhalla (2021) – Felton
Santa Cruz Environs
Prospect Heights (2019)
Paradise Park (2019)
Highland/Hillcrest Terrace (2020)
Santa Cruz Gardens (2021)
- From the NFPA
- Firewise USA account portal (to create an account for your community’s Firewise USA application): https://portal.firewise.org/user/login
- Firewise USA overview webinar (in archived section): https://www.nfpa.org/Training-and-Events/By-type/Webinars
- Firewise USA FAQ: https://www.nfpa.org/Public-Education/Fire-causes-and-risks/Wildfire/Firewise-USA/Become-a-Firewise-USA-site/Frequently-asked-questions
- Fire Safe Council of Santa Cruz
- Home Hardening: https://www.firesafesantacruz.org/home-hardening-events-2019
- Prepared Not Scared checklist: https://www.firesafesantacruz.org/wildfire-preparation-and-emergency-evacuation-guide
- Resource Conservation District of Santa Cruz
- Chipping program: http://www.rcdsantacruz.org/fire