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Firewise USA Recognition Process

FIRESafe MARIN will help your neighborhood (AKA Firewise "site") navigate the process and complete these steps!  Using the process below, communities develop an action plan that steers their residential risk reduction activities, while engaging and encouraging their neighbors to become active participants in building a safer place to live.  Neighborhoods throughout the United States are embracing the benefits of becoming a recognized Firewise USA site. 


1.  Wildfire Risk Assessment

Your Firewise committee will write a wildfire risk assessment as the first step in becoming a nationally recognized Firewise USA™ site.  By following our template below, the assesment is a relatively easy procvess and will help your committee better understand the fire problem in your community.  FIRESafe MARIN and your local fire department will help you complete any sections of the assessment where your committee needs assistance. This component is an important piece of the application process that will help identify and guide your priorities and activities. The risk assessment will be the board/committee’s primary tool in determining the risk reduction priorities within your site’s boundaries. Assessments need to be updated every five years.

Want to learn more about the risk assessment process?  Take the online Firewise Risk Assesment Training.

Ready to complete your assessment?  docxDownload FIRESafe MARIN's helpful template!

Review examples of other Marin community Firewise assessments here...

2.  Board/Committee

Form a board/committee that’s comprised of residents and other applicable wildfire stakeholders. Consider inviting the local fire department, elected officials, emergency managers, and if applicable, the HOA, Neighborhood Association, or property management company to participate. This group will collaborate on developing the site’s risk reduction priorities, develop a multi-year action plan based on the risk assessment and oversee the completion of the annual renewal requirements needed to retain an “in good standing” status.

3.  Action Plan

Action plans are a prioritized list of risk reduction projects/investments for the participating site, along with suggested homeowner actions and education activities that participants will strive to complete annually, or over a period of multiple years. Action plans are developed by the board/committee and need updating at least every three years.

4.  Educational Outreach

Each participating site is required to have a minimum of one wildfire risk reduction educational outreach event, or related activity annually.  Visit the program’s portal to get ideas and suggestions for planning a successful educational outreach activity for your residents.

5.  Wildfire Risk Reduction Investment

At a minimum, each site is required to invest the equivalent of $24.14 per dwelling unit* in wildfire risk reduction actions annually (the rate is based on the 2017 annual National Hourly Volunteer Rate; which is updated every year in April when the new amount is published). Find a wide range of qualifying expenditures (contractor costs, rental equipment), volunteer activities, grants, etc., that can be used in meeting the investment in the portal’s Risk Reduction Investment section. Residents completing select home modifications, along with any qualifying work performed at their home and in the adjacent home ignition zones can contribute related hours and/or costs towards meeting the sites collective investment amount.

NOTE - Firewise USA Sites are NOT required to invest or pay any cash to meet the risk reduction investment obligation.  Your volunteer time, and the time spent by homeowners clearing their property, counts toward the investment.  Look at it this way: each homeowner must invest and document ONE HOUR of work towards reducing wildfire risk.  That's it!  

*Calculating the number of dwelling units for use with the risk reduction investment formula: There must be a minimum of 8 individual single family dwelling units within the site’s identified boundary. The number of dwelling units within the site applying for recognition must be included in the application. For definition purposes, a dwelling unit is a household/residence built for occupancy by one person, a family, or roommates, including mobile homes and cabins; and for multi-family residential occupancies (i.e. duplexes, and other types of attached housing). An apartment building with 10 units would be considered ten dwelling units. Each individual participating site is limited to less than 2,500 individual dwelling units within their identified boundary. Multiple sites can be located within a single large master-planned community/HOA. The Firewise USA™ program is designed for residential occupancies where residents actively participate in reducing the wildfire risk where they live; it is not a program for every occupancy type, or an entire town, city or county. Contact NFPA if you have questions about your area’s eligibility.

6.  Application

FIRESafe MARIN will help you prepare your application, and can manage the application and renewal process for you.  You may start an application at any point in the overall process by creating a site profile in the Firewise USA™ portal. Once all the criteria has been completed, the electronic application can be submitted. State liaisons will approve applications, with final processing completed by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA).


Learn about the Firewise USA Program Benefits

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FIRESafe MARIN   |   P.O. Box 2831  |   San Anselmo, CA 94979   |   info@firesafemarin.org

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