Recognizing the need to prepare Kittitas County for the possibility of wildfires, the District, along with Washington State Department of Natural Resources (DNR), and local Fire Districts are working together to educate landowners in the County. One of the tools we use is the FIREWISE program.
FIREWISE is a program sponsored by the National Wildfire Coordinating Group (NWCG). Members of the NWCG are responsible for wildland fire management in the United States. They represent the USDA-Forest Service, the Department of Interior, the National Association of State Foresters, the U.S. Fire Administration and the National Fire Protection Association. The NWCG's Wildland/Urban Interface Working Team directs the FIREWISE program. In Washington State, the program is administered through the Washington State Department of Natural Resources. "The national Firewise Communities program is a multi-agency effort designed to reach beyond the fire service by involving homeowners, community leaders, planners, developers, and others in the effort to protect people, property, and natural resources from the risk of wildland fire - before a fire starts. The Firewise Communities approach emphasizes community responsibility for planning in the design of a safe community as well as effective emergency response, and individual responsibility for safer home construction and design, landscaping, and maintenance."
The “FIREWISE Communities USA” program enables communities in all parts of the United States to achieve a high level of protection against wildland/urban interface fire, as well as sustainable ecosystem balance. The program adapts especially well to small communities, developments and residential associations of all types. FIREWISE Communities USA incorporates efforts of homeowners, communities, federal and state agencies, and tribes. It includes landscaping, home construction and design, community planning, forest and land management. Currently, there are over 100 recognized Firewise Communities in Washington State and many others across the state working toward the same goal. For information on the FIREWISE Communities in Washington, please visit Firewise.org
KCCD offers a free home risk assessment to help landowners recognize wildland/urban interface fire hazards in addition to incorporating Firewise planning into existing and developing homesites and communities. every year KCCD also offers cost-share opportunities for landowners to make improvements suggested by these assessments. Call us at (509) 925-3352 ext 202 for more information or e-mail Rose.
Recently KCCD has become involved with Fire Adapted Communites (FAC). A fire adapted community is a community that is working to prepare for, respond to, and recover from wildfire. It incorporates people, buildings, businesses, infrastructure, cultural resources, and natural areas into the preparedness effort. Fire adapted communities use many tools and programs to better live with wildfire. The Firewise Communities USA program is one tool available to communities but is not the only tool. Programs such as Ready, Set, Go! as well as our local codes and ordinances, Community Wildfire Protection Plans, collaborative planning efforts, business resilience activities, local mutal aid agreements, fire department capacity, and more all help adapt a community to live with wildfire.The Hidden Valley/ Swauk area was chosen by the Washington State Fire Adapted Community Learning Network to become Kittitas County's first FAC. Read the blog written by Suzanne Wade (former KCCD Firewise Coordinator) on local partnerships and fuels reductions