Deschutes County reaches 50 Firewise USA communities – KTVZ

BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) — Deschutes County is proud to recognize its 50th Firewise community, a milestone that reiterates local commitment to wildfire prevention. More than 13,000 homes in the County participate in the program.

The national Firewise USA program and local Project Wildfire staff, fire districts and the Oregon Department of Forestry provide communities that participate in the program with organizational assistance, resources and support to organize and learn about preparedness, evacuation plans and strategies to make their community more fire-resistant.

“Living in Central Oregon, we are all aware of the dangers of wildfire,” said Ed Keith, Deschutes County forester. “Across Deschutes County, neighbors are working together to reduce our risk and to implement best practices. Our local communities continue to be leaders in wildfire preparedness.”

The first Firewise® recognized site in Deschutes County (and in Oregon), was Fall River, which was first recognized in 2004. This month we celebrate reaching the 50th recognized site in Deschutes County. The full list of recognized sites can be found at: www.projectwildfire.org/firewise-usa/

Since 2004, Firewise recognized sites in Deschutes County have invested over $8.7 million towards reducing their wildfire risk, with $2.3 million invested in 2020 alone. 

Communities across Oregon are reminded every fire season of the risk of wildfire and want to learn what they can do to help prepare for and decrease their vulnerability to wildfire. Becoming a Firewise community is a great place to start.

Communities that are interested in learning more about increasing home survivability can visit www.projectwildfire.org.

Any community that meets a set of voluntary criteria on an annual basis and retains an “In Good Standing Status” may identify itself as being a Firewise® Site.

Firewise USA® helps communities prioritize work that can done immediately around structures. Research shows us that the last 100’ around the home has the greatest impact on home survivability regardless of the conditions beyond this area. Firewise focuses on this area due to its impact and being the area homeowners have the most control over. 

Along with the benefits of worrying less about wildfire, building relationships in the community and prioritizing work; communities have been able to apply for grant funding to complete fuel reduction projects and increase awareness and education. 

“Every year, we hold Firewise events and seek volunteers, every year the number of volunteers increases and the spirit of community builds,” said Lesley Allison, Sage Meadows Firewise resident leader. “There is nothing we can do to completely eliminate the risk of wildfire, but we can mitigate those risks and Firewise USA® provides a roadmap to the wildfire mitigation education and resources that our at-risk communities need.” 

The Firewise USA® program is administered by the National Fire Protection Association and is co-sponsored by the USDA Forest Service and the National Association of State Foresters. While the NFPA® administers this program, individuals and communities participate on a voluntary basis.