Yakima Neighbors Work Together to Protect Homes, Properties from Wildfires
News Date: 
May 12, 2022

Community teams with the Department of Natural Resources to launch Wildfire Ready Neighbors program in high-risk areas

Residents, community leaders, local fire districts, and the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) joined in Yakima’s Falcon Ridge neighborhood today to launch Wildfire Ready NeighborsThe program provides homeowners, renters, and private landowners the resources and tools to help protect themselves from wildfires.
The collaboration between communities throughout Yakima County, local partners, and DNR takes a localized approach to develop proactive plans for wildfire protection. Last year, this successful program launched in high-risk communities in Chelan, Okanagan, and Spokane counties. In its inaugural year, 2,200 Washington residents signed up for Wildfire Ready Neighbors and received custom plans to prepare their homes and property ahead of wildfire season, exceeding program goals by 22%. Now in its second year, the program is building on that momentum by expanding within Chelan and Spokane, and launching in new counties, including Yakima.
“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 Yakima know they must band together to ready themselves, their homes, and their properties against wildfires. This is an act of deep care for your neighbor and communities like Falcon Ridge are showing us the power of building community resilience.”
Through the Wildfire Ready Neighbors program, participants gain access to experts and resources that help them understand how to reduce risks on their property through actions like trimming back brush, cleaning roofs and gutters, and removing debris. 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 has also expanded to additional communities in Chelan and Spokane 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.
“Coming together as neighbors is incredibly important to prepare for wildfire. We can all do something to protect our home, property and community, but it starts with understanding how wildfires work and maintaining the surroundings at your own home,” said Bob Rheaume, Falcon Ridge Community Captain. “Wildfire Ready Neighbors is a free resource to teach you how to reduce wildfire risks at your home and the program can give you steps to take action.”
To join Wildfire Ready Neighbors and get a free customized plan, community members simply sign up at www.wildfireready.com. Residents can also request a no-cost 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.
Video and photos of today’s press conference will be added here as it becomes available.
Gabrielle Abbott
Deputy Communications Director