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).
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.