Last year, in collaboration with a small working group of state liaisons, NFPA’s wildfire division reviewed each component of the Firewise USA™ program’s new and renewal requirements. The application criteria had not been updated for more than fourteen years and a stakeholder review was long overdue to ensure the requirements reflected the science-based risk reduction actions needed throughout the home ignition zones.
Based on the group’s input and feedback, along with data analysis collected from previous years, several changes were made to the renewal criteria. Many of the components remain unchanged, the major update was to the risk reduction investment formula. The previous per capita calculation has been replaced with a residence based equivalent of $24.14 per dwelling unit.
Wildfire Risk Assessment: The risk assessment is the board/committee’s primary tool in determining the risk reduction priorities/focus within the site’s boundaries. Beginning in 2018, sites will have five years to update their current risk assessment, with it updated again at a minimum of every five years.
Board/Committee: Annually the board/committee needs to review and update their site’s risk reduction priorities based on their risk assessment; with the action plan being updated as needed.
Action Plan: Beginning in 2018, sites will have three years to update their action plan. After that, the document will need to be updated at a minimum of at least every three years.
Educational Outreach: Each participating site is required to have a minimum of one wildfire risk reduction educational outreach event, or related activity every year. The program’s portal has ideas and suggestions for planning a successful educational outreach activity.
Calculating the 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 April). Find a wide range of qualifying expenditures that can be used in calculating the risk reduction investment in the program’s portal.
*Calculating the dwelling unit number for use with the risk reduction investment formula: The number of dwelling units within the site 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 10 dwelling units.
Each individual participating site is limited to less than 7,500 individual dwelling units within their identified boundary. Multiple sites can be located within a single large master-planned community/HOA. Participating sites larger than 7,500 individual dwelling units must meet the maximum dwelling unit requirement by January 2, 2023.
Sites unable to meet the new investment rate in 2018, must, at a minimum, meet 50% of the new rate.
All 2019 renewals will be required to meet the new minimum investment requirement.
Sites are encouraged to start their renewal application in the portal at any time throughout the year as components are completed. Once the overall criteria is met, the electronic renewal application can be submitted. This year, renewals must be completed by November 16. Renewals are reviewed and approved by either the designated state liaison or the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA). Each approved renewing site will receive a Certificate of Renewal during the first quarter of the following year.