USA — The Fire Adapted Communities (FAC) Coalition has announced the release of a new report, “Lessons from Waldo Canyon” and a companion video, “Creating Fire Adapted Communities: A Case Study from Colorado Springs and the Waldo Canyon Fire.” Both the video and report will be available through the Fire Adapted Communities website on Tuesday, March 19, 2013.
In the wake of last summer’s tragic Waldo Canyon Fire which destroyed 345 homes and resulted in the evacuation of more than 30,000 residents from the City of Colorado Springs, Colorado, members of the Fire Adapted Communities Coalition visited the area to learn how the city’s decade-long wildfire safety programs had affected the outcome of the fire. The final report and video are the result of interviews, field visits and tours of the city’s most affected neighborhoods conducted by the Coalition’s assessment team during the three-day visit to the area in July 2012.
“The mitigation tools used by the Colorado Springs Fire Marshal’s Wildfire Mitigation Section for the last 10 years mirrored, to a large extent, the recommendations of the Fire Adapted Communities program,” said Pam Leschak, WUI/Fire Adapted Communities program manager for the USDA Forest Service Fire and Aviation Management. “The findings of the report conclude that the damage to the city as a result of the Waldo Canyon Fire would have been far more wide-spread if these practices weren’t put into place.”
With support from the U.S. Forest Service, the mitigation assessment team, comprised of representatives from the Coalition including the Insurance Institute for Business and Home Safety (IBHS), the International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC), the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA)and The Nature Conservancy (TNC), worked closely with the Colorado Springs Fire Marshal’s Wildfire Mitigation Section and the Colorado State Forest Service. “Lessons from Waldo Canyon” is the first post-fire field report from the FAC coalition.
“Drought conditions have significantly raised the concern about wildfires within the insurance industry,” said IBHS President and CEO Julie Rochman. “Property insurers are very happy to partner with the fire services and environmental communities to conduct this type of useful post-disaster field research, which provides critical insights for property owners. It also informs researchers, such as the scientists at the IBHS Research Center â? the only facility in the world that can recreate a full-scale wildfire ember storm in a controlled environment.”
“Wildland fire is a major issue facing fire departments large and small across the United States,” said Hank Clemmensen, IAFC president and chairman of the board. “Reports like this provide valuable tools to local fire departments to help them learn from others’ experiences so they can better prepare their communities for the threat of wildland fire.”
A special screening of the video will be held during the International Association of Fire Chiefs’ Wildland Urban Interface 2013 Conference March 19 – 21, 2013 at the Peppermill Resort in Reno, Nevada. Copies of the report will also be available for conference attendees.
“Wildfires are a reality for thousands of communities across the United States,” said NFPA President Jim Shannon. “We are proud to play an active role in Fire Adapted Communities and collaborate with partners to provide tools and information to encourage the public to prepare for wildfire and reduce their risk.”
“The Fire Adapted Communities program is helping communities access the tools and information they need to safely co-exist with wildfire,” said Wendy Fulks, associate director for Fire Adapted Communities and Outreach with The Nature Conservancy. “This requires focused collaboration and a commitment to mitigating risk to homes, as well as to other important values such as watersheds and recreation areas.”