Preventing Catastrophe: the Firewise Approach to Community Design. Denise Laitinen Firewise Communities Hawaii September 24, 2009

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1 Preventing Catastrophe: the Firewise Approach to Community Design Denise Laitinen Firewise Communities Hawaii September 24, 2009

2 What/who is Firewise? Created in 1985 by NFPA & USDA after a horrific fire season Part of the National Wildland/Urban Interface Fire Program Overseen by the WUI Working Team of the National Wildfire Coordinating Group Sponsored by: USDA Forest Service Department of the Interior, National Park Service National Fire Protection Association US Fire Administration/FEMA National Association of State Foresters

3 Cooperators and Allies American Forests American Institute of Architects American Planning Association American Red Cross American Society of Landscape Architects Community Associations Institute Congressional Fire Services Institute Environmental Systems Research Institute (ESRI) Institute for Business & Home Safety Insurance Services Office International Association of Fire Chiefs International Association of Wildland Fire International Codes Council National Arbor Day Foundation National Association of Counties National Association of Home Builders National Association of State Fire Marshals National Emergency Management Association National Multi Housing Council National Volunteer Fire Council National Wildfire Suppression Association Society of American Foresters Space Imaging The Nature Conservancy Trimble Navigation Western Fire Chiefs Association Wildland Firefighting Magazine TM

4 Denise Laitinen Firewise Communities Hawaii 18 years of media experience in radio, TV, and publishing, including more than 300+ published articles. Fire articles have been printed on four continents. 10 years experience NFPA/firefighter/safety issues. Only woman to undergo and pass DOFAW s Red Card certification training with Maui Fire Dept. Certified wildland arson investigator. Former Maui County Fire and Public Safety Commissioner ( ) 2009) Member of VOAD, LEPC, Red Cross Disaster Instructor 2009 Nominee to Hawaii County Women Hall of Fame

5 A Vision for the Future A Vision for the Future: Wildland fires occur in the future without the loss of homes and structures.

6 The Firewise Goal Ocean View Homes are designed, built, and maintained to withstand a wildfire WITHOUT the intervention of the fire department.

7 Because this is never a good sight Ocean View approaching homes!

8 As more homes are built in the wildland urban interface it s critical that they be built Firewise!

9 For homeowners: 2 key elements of being Firewise 1. having defensible space 2. using fire-resistant building materials

10 3,000 acre fire in Launiupoko, Maui


12 Firewise homes

13 Not Firewise! Ocean View

14 Not Firewise!

15 3 key Firewise elements for community planning: 1. more than one means of ingress, egress 2. fuel breaks, i.e. open spaces, golf courses, slope setbacks 3. mandating use of fire-resistant building materials.

16 Waikoloa: Best protected golf course on the island! Ocean View (Otherwise known as completely backward planning.)

17 A community fuel break / buffer zone would have slowed/prevented the spread of fire into the community.

18 Firewise Activities 2002-Present What does Firewise do in Hawaii? Community Outreach/Presentations Media Relations Meetings Trainings/Workshops Community Work Days Alert Communities to Grant Opportunities

19 Field work: Fuel load assessment of perimeter of Maui Meadows, Kihei with Maui County Fire Dept.

20 Field work: Examine wildfire behavior What burns? What doesn t? Why?

21 Community Outreach Add pic of Kapono at Upcountry fair

22 Create educational tools


24 Community Work Days

25 Firewise Initiatives Around Hawaii: Communities throughout West Hawaii, including Puako, Pu uanahulu, uanahulu, and Waikoloa have received WUI grant for fuel reduction projects, such as fuel breaks, grazing, and access roads. West Hawaii neighborhoods have received more than $1.2 MILLION in WUI mitigation funds in past 6 years. CWPPs developed for the island of Kauai; communities of Ocean View, Volcano, Northwest Hawaii, Waihe e, e, and Kahikinui. Conduct community wildfire hazard assessments throughout the state. Train fire department recruit classes on Firewise and wildfire hazard assessment. Grove Farm on Kauai implementing community fuel breaks.

26 2003 Waikoloa fire: 400 acres burned, 50 homes evacuated


28 Waikoloa Access Road Created After experiencing wildfires and taking Firewise workshops, the local Firewis committee applied for and received $50,000 in WUI grant money for an emergency access road.

29 Firewise Ocean at work! View Waikoloa 2005 fire

30 Kohala by the Sea residents at Firewise workshop January 2004

31 1st Firewise Community in Hawaii! Kohala By The Sea became the first community in Hawaii and only the 50th nationwide to receive national recognition as part of the Firewise Communities USA program. Have maintained recognition for 5 years in a row! Just received $100,000 WUI grant for mitigation projects!

32 Assessment of Kahikinui with Maui County Fire Dept. Hawaiian Home Lands community has only generator power and catchmen water. Roads are only accessible by 4-wheel drive.

33 Kahikinui, Maui July 2003 fire: more than 2,000 acres burned in a month. September 2006 fire: more than 5,000 acres burned. Kahikinui is the last and largest archeological intact moku in the state. Developed CWPP in 2008 identifying mitigation projects to reduce fire hazard. Projects include road improvement, buffer zones. (lesson learned: let the cows do the work.)

34 Firewise Workshops How do folks learn to be Firewise? Community Assessment in the Wildland Urban Interface provides a thorough understanding of how homes ignite during wildfires, how simple actions can greatly reduce home ignitions, and how community behavior change can create Firewise homes and communities. Firefighter Safety in the Wildland Urban Interface addresses problems faced by structural and wildland firefighters when fighting fires, especially those threatening structures in the wildland/urban interface. An important goal is to improve knowledge of firefighter safety and survival issues. Firewise Landscaping designed for people living in wildland areas who make decisions about landscaping their homes. The course considers the issues of appropriate landscape designs, specific planting and pruning alternatives, and appropriate planting materials for interface/intermix fire environments.

35 .-, 40Real world planning in a virtual community The Community Assessment in the Wildland Urban Interface Workshop: * Since 1999 Firewise has partnered with ESRI to use Arc View software to demonstrate Firewise principles in community design. * Firewise created a virtual community to train everyone to the same standard nationwide. * River Bend is a composite of a typical community in the wildland urban interface. * Teaches wildfire safety and planning principles while introducing people to GIS. "! 2 PINE VALLEY RIVER BEND TOPEKIN RIVER EAGLE LAKE TOPEKIN RIVER LITTLE EAGLE LAKE "! 2 ôó 99 ôó 99 LAKE BUCKHORN

36 Firewise Workshops National Firewise Planning workshops offered between at 30 locations around the country trained over 1,000 people in Firewise planning techniques. Firewise, in partnership with ESRI, gave away free Arcview software for fire planning in every community where a Firewise workshop was held. National workshops were phased out in Since then Firewise Communities Hawaii has taught more than 20 workshops around the state. Workshop attendees receive CEUs.

37 # Using GIS to teach fire safety & community planning GIS as a learning tool: multiple data layers enable non- technical people to easily grasp the importance of wildfire safety on an individual and community level. * Learn how to reduce wildfire risks as well as identify them. %U %U %U þ %U %U %U %U %U %U %U %U þ %U %U þ þ %U %U #ôó99 %U %U %U %U %U %U þ þ þ þ #Y %U %U %U þ %U %U þ %U %U #"! 2 LAKE BUCKHORN The importance of community planning: People learn the importance of planning with fire safety in mind. ; ôó 99

38 Incorporating Firewise into Planning At least 4 subdivisions in West Hawaii have incorporated Firewise recommendations into the community CC&Rs. Kauai Planning Department hands out Firewise brochures and construction checklists at their counter. Nationwide more cities and counties are adopting defensible space ordinances.

39 New Planning Tools from Firewise Safer from the Start - new guide book for community planning. Seeks to help create Firewise communities from the ground up. Provides developers of new communities and residents of existing community associations with a tool they can use to integrate Firewise concepts into design and development, as well as their CC&Rs and architectural rules.

40 Firewise Resources has an entire section just for Builders, Landscapers, and Planners. Resources include: * Safer from the start: a guide to Firewise friendly Developments * Building a Firewise Home Instructional video * Firewise Construction/ Landscaping Poster Set * Landscaping 3-part video series * Home Improvement: A Firewise Approach

41 Being Firewise is fun! There s s peace of mind knowing your neighborhood is Firewise.

42 When you go home look at your house as fuel. Is it Firewise or a fire disaster waiting to happen?

43 Mahalo! For more info: Denise Laitinen (808)