Firewise Communities

Kailapa Firewise Chipper Days 2018

This December, Kailapa residents took the initiative to thin and remove hazardous and flammable trees near homes as part of their Firewise Communities efforts. The community on Hawaiian Home Lands has been a Firewise Community since 2016 and has been doing great work to protect the residents and watershed from wildfire since then. As part of their December efforts, a chipper was hired to reduce the trees to woodchips that can be used for other projects. Nice work, Kailapa!

Hello, World!Kailapa Firewise Chipper Days December 2018

Waikoloa Village Firewise Green Waste Day

Mark Gordon, Fire Management Action Committee Chair, shares a laugh in front of the roll-out dumpster used for the green waste collection event. Credit: Waikoloa Village Fire Management Action Committee

Mark Gordon, Fire Management Action Committee Chair, shares a laugh in front of the roll-out dumpster used for the green waste collection event. Credit: Waikoloa Village Fire Management Action Committee

Waikoloa Village was on a roll this last weekend — literally. The WVA Fire Management Action Committee, chaired by Mark Gordon, contracted to have a large roll-out dumpster placed at the Waikoloa Stables for most of the day so that residents had a convenient location to dispose of yard waste and thereby reduce the fire risk around homes in the fire-prone subdivision.

The Firewise event organizers exceeded expectations, with the bin almost three-quarters of the way filled within the first hour or so — it was completely full by the end of the event. Over 30 people dropped off yard waste they had removed from around their homes, creating defensible space, which is an important part of being Ready for a wildfire.

Big mahalo to the work done by Steve, the newest Fire Management Committee member, Wayne, Mark, and the Waikoloa Stables groundskeeper who all volunteered their time towards assisting people in disposing of yard waste.

This event will help qualify Waikoloa Village for a 3rd straight year of having a national Firewise recognition. Great work everyone!


Waikoloa Village Firewise Green Waste Day 11/10/18

Waialea Community Fuelbreak July 2018 Maintenance

Waialea has been a Firewise Community since 2016, but they have been working towards wildfire prevention solutions in their small community for several years prior to then. The community fuelbreak, initially created through financial and technical support from HWMO, has been consistently kept maintained by the community since HWMO handed the reigns over. Take a look at the great work they did this July to keep their fuelbreak maintained as a last line of defense for firefighters to protect the shoreline community.

Photo credits: Bill White, Waialea Firewise committee chair

Waialea Community Fuelbreak July 2018 Maintenance

Puukapu Pastoral Firewise Assessment Review Meeting

The review team — mahalo everyone!

The review team — mahalo everyone!

Wildfire protection takes collaboration. We had a very fruitful meeting with Puukapu Pastoral residents, Department of Hawaiian Home Lands, Hawaii Fire Department, and Natural Resources Conservation Service representatives. Together, we brainstormed actions Puukapu lessees, with assistance from their partners, could take to create a safer Firewise and tighter-knit community. HWMO works as a hub to connect people because collaboration truly is the most effective way to see immediate and long-lasting results. Big mahalo to all who participated and for the residents taking charge to be pioneers in their community and showing real leadership and determination to protect the families and beautiful lands of Puukapu.

Kamilonui-Mariner's Cove Firewise Work Days 2018

Senator Stanley Chang and Janae teaming up against a particularly heavy tree trunk.

Senator Stanley Chang and Janae teaming up against a particularly heavy tree trunk.

Kamilonui Valley-Mariner's Cove is well on their way towards becoming the first Firewise Community in eastern Oahu this year. Check out their latest community work efforts which HWMO has been supporting, including through a $2,000 U.S. Forest Service grant we have provided for an extra boost of vegetation clearance to reduce wildfire risk. Livable Hawaii Kai Hui, Senator Stanley Chang's Office, and Aloha Aina O Kamilo Nui  have played critical roles in this effort along with the residents who have taken charge to protect their community from wildfire. We love to see this kind of community-based initiative and action!

"On June 23rd, we had a volunteer day at our Target Area 1, the end of Kamilonui Place (nursery road).  Some work was done earlier in the week by the women’s correctional facility volunteers.  Thanks to Ama for bringing them out to help!  On the 23rd we had Mariner’s Cove volunteers help clear what the women had cut down.  Sergio from Tropical Tree Services, LLC, and our neighbor in Kamilonui Valley, has been chipping as we drag haole koa and other trees out of the firebreak zone. What is left to do in that area includes weed whacking, treating trees so they do not grow back, and bagging any random opala exposed."

The community continued the work on July 7th by dragging all cut wood out for chipping.

The June 23 group hard at work.

The June 23 group hard at work.

Celebrating a job well done.

Celebrating a job well done.

"Target Area 2 is located on the closed section of Hawaii Kai Drive behind the Mariner’s Cove homes on Niumalu Loop.  This was also an area where there were several fires last year.  We now have a plan in place to get this cleared! The landowner has agreed to provide us with dumpsters.  Once the timing of the dumpsters and chipping has been arranged we will send out a volunteer work day reminder to Mariner’s Cove residents.  We are hoping all of these efforts will result in less fires in the valley this summer.

BIG mahalo to Sergio (Tropical Tree Service) for helping chip what is cut and curbside

Mahalo to Lenoard for helping secure dumpsters

Mahalo to Ama and the WCCC Aina Angels"

Photo Credits: Elizabeth Reilly / Livable Hawaii Kai Hui

Before of Target Area 1

Before of Target Area 1

Before of Target Area 2

Before of Target Area 2

Another community work crew hard at work!

Another community work crew hard at work!

Sea Country Firewise Hazard Assessment

The assessment team.

The assessment team.

On June 1, 2018, HWMO met with representatives from DLNR Division of Forestry and Wildlife, Honolulu Fire Department, Sea Country Community Association, and Waianae Coast Disaster Readiness Team, along with residents from Sea Country to conduct a Firewise Community Hazard Assessment of the Sea Country subdivision in Maili in West Oahu. Together, the group caravanned to several areas in the community to gain a vantage point of the intersection between wildland and urban areas. Along with these priority areas,  the team also visited several representative homes to conduct a “Home Ignition Zone” assessment to better comprehend the wildfire hazards at the individual lot level and identify locally-relevant examples of best practices for creating defensible space and fire-proofing structures.

The community of Sea Country is at a high risk for wildfires due to its high winds, history of nearby human-caused ignitions, location on the wildland-urban interface, and prevalence of fire-prone vegetation. By conducting the assessment, Sea Country will be one step closer to becoming a Firewise Community.

Sea Country Firewise Hazard Assessment 6/1/18


Kohala Waterfront Firewise Wildfire Prep Day 2018

Kohala Waterfront became one of eleven nationally-recognized Firewise Communities in Hawaii after a group of community members came together to spread awareness around wildfires and reduced wildfire risks in the neighborhood. Each year, a Firewise Community has to put in an equivalent of $24.14 per dwelling unit and complete at least one outreach event or work day. Over a dozen Kohala Waterfront community members came out to remove flammable vegetation along the border of their community (on the highway side where ignitions are the highest) to celebrate national Community Wildfire Preparedness Day. They pruned trees and hauled green waste to a dumpster they rented using grant money awarded by State Farm through the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA). 

Resident volunteers and Cesar Gellido of Saws & Slaws get ready to prune a tree to reduce ladder fuels. Credit: Marla Herman.

Resident volunteers and Cesar Gellido of Saws & Slaws get ready to prune a tree to reduce ladder fuels. Credit: Marla Herman.

Cesar Gellido trains a resident on saw use and safety. Check out the progress they made!

Cesar Gellido trains a resident on saw use and safety. Check out the progress they made!

Firefighters from Hawaii Fire Department give encouragement and thanks to community members who were hard at work all morning for Community Wildfire Preparedness Day.

Firefighters from Hawaii Fire Department give encouragement and thanks to community members who were hard at work all morning for Community Wildfire Preparedness Day.

Mahalo (left to right) Tom Welle of NFPA, Cesar Gellido of Saws & Slaws, and Emily Troisi of FAC Learning Network, for coming out to support Kohala Waterfront's efforts!

Mahalo (left to right) Tom Welle of NFPA, Cesar Gellido of Saws & Slaws, and Emily Troisi of FAC Learning Network, for coming out to support Kohala Waterfront's efforts!

The volunteers also had help from one of the speakers of the Hawaii Wildfire Summit who was visiting from Colorado and representing a community organization called Saws & Slaws. Cesar Gellido, who coordinates the community group that trains residents in Colorado on chainsaw use and safety for the purpose of flammable vegetation removal, generously put in the time and effort to prune trees in the community and train some volunteers on saw safety. HWMO's Community Outreach Coordinator and statewide Firewise coordinator, Pablo Akira Beimler, linked up with Hawaii Wildfire Summit speakers Emily Troisi, from Fire Adapted Communities Learning Network, and Tom Welle, from NFPA to visit the community work day and offer encouragement and thanks for the volunteers' efforts. As a pleasant surprise to the community members, a couple Hawaii Fire Department engines stopped by the event. Firefighters from HFD shook hands with the community members and offered their encouragement and thanks, as well. 

Keep up the great work, Kohala Waterfront! Credit: Marla Herman.

Keep up the great work, Kohala Waterfront! Credit: Marla Herman.

Kohala Waterfront Firewise Wildfire Prep Day 5/5/18

Hawaii Wildfire Summit 2018

Over the years, HWMO has come to understand that wildfire-related challenges are faced by a wide array of professionals and citizens, including more than just those focused on emergency response. HWMO, through a grant from the U.S. Forest Service, held the first ever Hawaii Wildfire Summit between April 30 and May 4 at the Mauna Lani Bay Hotel & Bungalows to bring together not just fire professionals, but people working in riparian and marine conservation, cultural resource protection, the visitor industry, planning professionals, and community groups from across Hawaii, the Western Pacific, and the rest of the U.S.
 

Pre-Summit: NFPA Assessing Structural Ignition Potential for Wildfire Course

The first two days were dedicated to the NFPA course on Assessing Structural Ignition Potential from Wildfire. Participants included firefighters, land managers, and homeowners who learned the ins and outs of fire and its interaction with the built environment. Wildland fire expert, Pat Durland, who traveled from the mainland to teach the course, also shared valuable information on the latest research for improving the survivability of a home during a wildfire.

Hawaii Wildfire Summit 2018 - NFPA ASIP Training
Hawaii Wildfire Summit 2018 - Lei Making Party 5/1/18


Summit Main Event

The main event began on Wednesday, May 2, kicking off two days packed with presentations and workshops from over 40 speakers, including our two keynote speakers, Gloria Edwards of Southern Rockies Fire Science Network and Dr. Steve Quarles of the Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety. A wealth of knowledge was shared throughout the summit by these speakers with the diverse audience. Speakers highlighted lessons learned, best practices and innovations in wildfire protection. Check out the list of speakers and their bios by clicking the buttons below.

Hawaii Wildfire Summit 2018 - Summit Day 1 5/2/18
Hawaii Wildfire Summit 2018 - Summit Day 2 5/3/18

HWMO emphasized the importance of using creativity and outside-the-box thinking to get out of our comfort zones, a point that keynote speaker Gloria Edwards so eloquently urged in her presentation. To spur creativity and collaborative dialogue, HWMO encouraged participants to take part in several activities during the breaks and the first evening's meet-and-greet:

* A collaborative Summit to Sea art project
* A collaborative ideas sharing space
* Casting ballots for a statewide youth wildfire prevention bookmark contest. Submissions were from students at Kamaile Academy in Waianae and Kohala and Waikoloa Schools on Hawaii Island. 

 

Smokin' Word


To cap off the event and to further encourage participants to use their creativity and get out of their comfort zones, we held a "Smokin' Word" open mic. Various brave volunteers, from local fire chiefs to representatives from national programs, gave spoken word performances about "why we do what we do, what we are aiming to protect, and to ignite applause and laughter." We were extremely pleased to see our colleagues dig into their creative space and shake off some nerves to share their great pieces. Professional spoken word artist (and HWMO Community Outreach Coordinator), Pablo Akira Beimler, rounded out the open mic with a performance of his poem in tribute to the summit and all of the inspiring work happening by the people in the room to make Hawaii a better, safer place to live. 

We also had a great turnout of Firewise Community members from Hawaii Island and Maui-- almost all Firewise Communities in Hawaii were represented! Firewise committee members Lisa Chu-Thielbar (Kanehoa), Gordon Firestein (Launiupoko), and Diane Makaala Kanealii (Honokoa) presented lessons learned and background about their Firewise efforts during the general session on the 2nd day. We had a Firewise gathering at the end of the 2nd day where participants played "get to know you bingo" to frantically and comically break the ice. From this point onward, HWMO is committed to forming a statewide peer learning network between all of the Firewise Communities. 

Hawaii Wildfire Summit 2018 - Post-Summit Activities

 


Field Workshop


On the final day of the summit, a large group of the summit attendees hopped aboard vehicles to caravan around the South Kohala area to visualize much of what was discussed indoors at the Mauna Lani. The Pacific Fire Exchange field workshop began at the Upper Waikoloa Road Intersection to ground the participants in a sense of place and seeing a landscape-level view of the summit-to-sea watersheds of South Kohala. Then, it was on to Wai Ulaula Waimea Nature Park, where participants learned about watershed planning and about the local native forest. The following stop helped participants understand the wildfire threat that threatens the native forests and the subsequent post-fire flooding that has vastly impacted Hawaii's shorelines. What better place to talk about wildfire than in Kawaihae, where the 2014 wildfire burned thousands of acres and threatened many homes, burned millions of dollars of timber, and post-fire flooding shut down businesses and impacted the livelihoods of local residents. Representatives from Hawaii County Fire Department and National Park Service shared their lessons learned from responding to the massive fire. 

After lunch with a beautiful view of the South Kohala Coastline and a jolt from an earthquake in Kilauea, the group walked to the Puu Kohola Heiau visitor center to learn the history of the sacred site. The group then walked along a trail to learn more about the conditions that are ripe for wildfire in Kawaihae. They continued walking down to Pelekane Bay, the site of intense post-fire runoff and coral reef decay. 

The field workshop ended in Puako where Peter Hackstedde shared about the community's efforts to create a large fuelbreak behind homes and their recent Firewise Community recognition efforts. Paniau was the final stop and a nice place to wrap-up the summit to sea discussion. Some workshop participants stayed for a snorkel tour of the reef. 

Great job, Melissa Kunz, on coordinating such a smooth, exciting, and informative field workshop!

Hawaii Wildfire Summit 2018 - Field Workshop 5/4/18


Here is a thank you letter from our Executive Director, Elizabeth Pickett, to the summit participants:

Screen Shot 2018-05-30 at 11.14.56 AM.png
Screen Shot 2018-05-30 at 11.15.25 AM.png

WCDRT Climate Adaptation Meeting and Firewise Recruitment

Sea level rise app demo from a speaker representing NOAA.

Sea level rise app demo from a speaker representing NOAA.

We joined a climate adaptation meeting with the very proactive Waianae Coast Disaster Readiness Team on February 21. The WCDRT had recently formed a subcommittee to focus on Firewise Community work in Waianae and invited us to chat with them to discuss potential candidates for the program. The group settled on Sea Country in Maili, which would make the community the first Firewise Community in the western half of Oahu. We stayed for the rest of the meeting to hear from presenters regarding sea level rise adaptation and general climate adaptation strategies. Josh Stanbro from the County of Honolulu Office of Climate Change took a survey of the large meeting group to assess what climate challenges were on people's minds.

WCDRT Climate Adaptation Meeting and Firewise Recruitment 2/21/18

Kamilonui-Mariner's Cove Firewise Hazard Assessment Review Workshop

Dr. Clay Trauernicht of UH CTAHR Cooperative Extension and Pacific Fire Exchange encourages the community members in the room to continue to take proactive action in the neighborhood to prevent wildfire loss.

Dr. Clay Trauernicht of UH CTAHR Cooperative Extension and Pacific Fire Exchange encourages the community members in the room to continue to take proactive action in the neighborhood to prevent wildfire loss.

On February 13, over a dozen community members from Kamilonui Valley and Mariner's Cove in Hawaii Kai joined our workshop with Honolulu Fire Department, DLNR Division of Forestry and Wildlife, and University of Hawaii CTAHR Cooperative Extension. The community members heard from the various agency representatives about the importance of taking action early to prevent fire loss in the community. HWMO has teamed up with the community to support them in becoming the first Firewise Community in the eastern half of Oahu.

As a requirement of becoming a nationally-recognized Firewise Community, our team met with several of the community members a few months ago to conduct a community-wide wildfire hazard assessment. After synthesizing the information in a comprehensive report, we designed a workshop to inform the community members about their wildfire risk. At the end of the workshop, the community members listed the priority actions they wanted to see taken in the community to protect it from wildfire. Those actions will be used to formulate an action plan, another requirement for becoming a Firewise Community. From then on, it is action time! The community plans to take preventive action this summer as part of Wildfire Prep Day with a volunteer event to reduce hazardous vegetation along the edges of the community.

 

Kamilonui-Mariner's Cove Firewise Hazard Assessment Review Workshop 2/13/18