The Firewise USA® recognition program is administered by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) and provides a collaborative framework to help neighbors in a geographic area get organized, find direction, and take action to increase the ignition resistance of their homes and community and to reduce wildfire risks at the local level. The Firewise USA program is a part of California’s efforts to ensure communities are prepared against wildfire, and CAL FIRE Office of the State Fire Marshal’s new Community Wildfire Preparedness & Mitigation Division works to assist local communities in receiving this designation.
Is your community a Firewise USA® Community?
Form a board/committee that’s comprised of residents and other applicable wildfire stakeholders. Consider inviting the local fire department, state forestry agency, elected officials, emergency manager, and if applicable the property management company to participate. This group will collaborate on identifying the firewise site’s boundary and size. Firewise sites need to have a minimum of 8 individual single family dwelling units and are limited to a maximum of 2,500. Multiple sites can be located within a single large master-planned community/HOA.
Obtain a written wildfire risk assessment from your state forestry agency or fire department. The assessment should be a community-wide view that identifies areas of successful wildfire risk reduction and areas where improvements could be made.
Emphasis should be on the general conditions of homes and the surrounding home ignition zones. The assessment is a living document and needs to be updated at a minimum of every five years.
- Contact your state liaison to learn more about the requirements and how to get started. List of California’s State Liaison contacts.
- Use the Firewise USA Template.
- Attend the Online Training – Community Wildfire Risk Assessment Tutorial.
Your board/committee will develop an action plan. This will include a prioritized list of risk reduction projects and 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 should be updated at a minimum of at least every three years.
- California_3Year_Action_Plan_Template_05042023 (DOC)
- California_3Year_Action_Plan_Template_05042023 (PDF)
Host an outreach event and work with neighbors on addressing items in the action plan. These efforts will go towards your site’s annual wildfire risk reduction investment.
- Find activity examples that count towards your investment.
- Use our volunteer hourly worksheet to collect information from residents in your community.
At a minimum, each site is required to annually invest the equivalent of one volunteer hour per dwelling unit in wildfire risk reduction actions.
If your site has identified 100 homes within its boundary, then 100 hours of work or the monetary equivalent, based on the independent sector value of volunteer time, need to be completed for that year.
New applications can be completed online at portal.firewise.org.
Tell us about the actions and efforts in your community to engage residents and complete mitigation work at the home level. Once all the criteria has been completed, the electronic application can be submitted.
Please note: Individual states can request additional application requirements.
Learn more at NFPA’s website.
More information on creating a firewise home and community can be found below.
- Defensible Space
- California Wildfire Mitigation Program (CWMP)
- Recovery California Wildfire Mitigation Program
- Land Use Planning Program
- Firewise USA NFPA Map
- How to prepare your home for wildfire
- How to prepare your home for wildfire (Brochure)