Spokane Neighbors Work Together to Protect Homes, Properties from Wildfires
May 10, 2022
For second year, community teams with Department of Natural Resources to expand Wildfire Ready Neighbors program to high-risk areas
Residents, community leaders, forest health experts, local fire districts, and the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) joined in Spokane’s Four Mound community today to kick off this year’s Wildfire Ready Neighbors. The program provides homeowners, renters, and small forest landowners the resources and tools to help protect themselves from wildfires.
The collaboration between communities throughout Spokane County, local partners, and DNR takes a localized approach to develop proactive plans. Last year, Spokane was the third county to launch this successful program. During the six-week pilot, 651 Spokane residents signed up for Wildfire Ready Neighbors ahead of wildfire season, exceeding program goals. Now in its second year, the program is building on that momentum by expanding to other high-risk communities in Spokane.
“Wildfires don’t see property lines, and people with homes in areas at high risk of wildfires are only as strong as their weakest link,” said Commissioner of Public Lands Hilary Franz. “It’s why neighbors who live in places like Spokane know they must band together to ready themselves, their homes, and their forests against wildfires. This is an act of deep care for your neighbor and communities like Four Mound are showing us the power of building community resilience.”
Through the Wildfire Ready Neighbors program, people can access experts and resources that help them understand how to reduce risk on their property through actions they can take into their own hands. This includes trimming back brush, cleaning roofs and gutters, and removing debris like leafy piles. When every property in a neighborhood takes these steps, their individual homes create a large area that is less susceptible to wildfires.
Wildfire Ready Neighbors is also expanding to additional communities in Chelan and Yakima this spring. In all three communities, the program:
- Drives people to assess risks and take action to make their properties more wildfire ready;
- Raises awareness and interest in receiving a free wildfire ready home visit or forest health consultation;
- Builds understanding of local/state resources and contractors available to assist with risk reduction activities;
- Grows and deepens community relationships and partnerships around issues of wildfire and resiliency; and,
- Creates a model for replicable future wildfire preparedness and resiliency programs that can be utilized by community partners in addition to their own existing programs or efforts.
Renters, homeowners, and private landowners — even if they do not live on their property full time — are eligible to participate. DNR and community leaders encourage participation now before the summer brings hot and dry conditions that create higher risks for wildfire. This past season, firefighters battled 1,872 fires across Washington — the second-most wildfires in record state history. More than 1.5 million acres have burned over the past two seasons.
“As both a concerned resident and the Fire Commissioner for Spokane County Fire District 5, I encourage communities in Spokane to learn how wildfires behave and travel, and how neighbors can help each other build resiliency around their homes,” said Bonnie Cobb, Spokane Community Captain and Spokane County Fire District 5 Fire Commissioner. “The most important thing is to be educated, and Wildfire Ready Neighbors teaches you this vital information, as well as what you can do to reduce your wildfire risk and protect your community.”
To join Wildfire Ready Neighbors and get a free customized plan, community members simply sign up at www.wildfireready.com. At no cost, residents can also request a consultation where a wildfire expert will visit their property and develop a detailed action plan for wildfire preparedness. The plan includes steps they can take immediately and information about local resources and contractors to help get them started.
On Thursday, May 12, Commissioner Franz will visit Yakima’s Falcon Ridge neighborhood to launch the Wildfire Ready Neighbors program in Yakima County.
Video and photos of today’s press conference will be added here as it becomes available.
Deputy Communications Director