Every year, wildfires burn across the United States, and a growing number of people are living where wildfires are a real risk. Each year, wildfires have burned in the San Juan Islands. We’ve been fortunate that our firefighters with the support of crews from the Department of Natural Resources have been able to quickly stop the growth of the wildfires. Our moderate summer temperatures along with the moisture contained in the undergrowth has helped us avoid a large wildfire event. This may not always be the case, everyone needs to take steps to keep their home and the area surrounding their home prepared to withstand a spreading wildfire.
What is Firewise?
Firewise USA is a national program that teaches and encourages home owners and residents to take steps to protect their home by managing vegetation and debris near their home and so provide a ‘fire-safe’ zone in the event of a wildfire in their area.
Currently, Firewise on the islands is consists of twenty-eight active communities each with a designated leader who have made the commitment to maintain the area around their homes using the recommendations set forth by Firewise USA.
Engaging your community and taking action to follow the recommended guidelines can significantly reduce the damage a wildfire can have on homes and outbuildings. Signing up as a community can be started at any time of the year. Click here to get started or you can contact us directly for assistance.
What Firewise Entails?
A Firewise community meets once per year to discuss goals accomplished and to set goals for the new year. Each year the leader of each community completes an online report of actions taken along with the monetary value of those actions taken. For example, several homeowners can hire a tree specialist to remove limbs and trees in order to provide better driveway clearance for emergency vehicles, and then the cost of the labor and the monetary value of the time spent in helping with the clean-up is reported to the firewise community leader. The leader then records this action taken on the firewise reporting portal.
Our San Juan regional coordinator works with each community as needed to assist with completing a Community Wildfire Risk Assessment. The coordinator also helps to coordinate individual home Wildfire Risk Evaluations. All homeowners, firewise or not, are encouraged to invite SJIF&R to complete an evaluation of the property surrounding a home. Contact us to setup an appointment.