Nature is both beautiful and dangerous. As more and more people choose to live in and around the forests and grasslands of this country, the challenge of preparing communities for the devastation of wildfire becomes more complex. To help communities prepare residents for the possibility of a wildfire, State Farm® is providing funding to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) Wildland Fire Operations Division. Local organizations will receive monetary awards through this grant to support and implement wildfire risk reduction projects.
State Farm has a long history of proactive wildfire safety education to its policyholders in high-risk regions, including the use of NFPA’s Firewise materials and concepts. "This is a valuable partnership to help save lives and protect property. It just fits with our ‘Good Neighbor’ beliefs,” said Vickie Hodges, Loss Mitigation Analyst with State Farm Insurance. “It is appropriate for State Farm, the largest home insurer in the United States, to take a leadership role in homeowner safety and property protection.” The Bloomington, Ill.-based company insures one out of five homes in the U.S.
NFPA’s wildfire division is sponsoring two high-profile national campaigns aimed at encouraging residents to take action to make homes and neighborhoods safer. State Farm is providing monetary support for both campaigns. The Firewise Challenge is a campaign that began in 2013 as a way to encourage increased neighborhood participation in the national Firewise Communities/USA® Recognition Program. Communities in ten states with the most participation will receive funds provided by the State Farm grant to implement safety projects. Five communities in Arkansas, Washington, Pennsylvania, California, and New Jersey are receiving a grand prize of $5,000 to be used for mitigation activities, including chipping of brush, removal of vegetative material, and similar activities that will reduce wildfire hazards. Five additional communities in Virginia, Colorado, Oregon, Tennessee, and Maine will receive a runner-up prize of $900 to use on safety gear, tools or mitigation projects.
The second major campaign focusing on wildfire education is the first nationwide Wildfire Community Preparedness Day, slated to take place May 3, 2014. The national Preparedness Day gives people of all ages a chance to participate in a risk reduction or wildfire preparedness activity that makes their community a safer place to live. A portion of the State Farm grant funding will be awarded to 20 neighborhood wildfire safety projects being implemented during the May 3rd event. Information on how to apply for an award can be found at www.wildfireprepday.org.
"What’s exciting about State Farm’s funding support goes beyond mere dollars," said Lorraine Carli, NFPA vice president of Outreach and Advocacy. “NFPA’s public education goal is to empower residents to take action with regard to fire safety. One way they accept ideas and act on them is to hear the safety message from multiple, credible sources. Working on wildfire safety issues with such an influential partner like State Farm sends a very powerful message."
Wildland fires are a serious threat to lives and property. The National Association of State Foresters (NASF) cites more than 72,000 U.S. communities are now at risk from wildfire. The combination of drought, mild temperatures, high winds and an excess of dried vegetation in forests and grasslands has made fire seasons progressively worse over the past 50 years. According to the National Interagency Fire Center (NIFC), 2012 saw one of the worst fire seasons in decades with over nine million acres burned.
For more information about the Firewise Communities/USA® Recognition Program Challenge and National Wildfire Preparedness Day, please visit www.nfpa.org/wildfire.