Historically known as a Hawaiian fishing village, Puako is now host to over 150 homes which have been threatened countless times from wildfires. The community is directly bordered by a large, dense kiawe forest that can carry fires quickly towards homes. Starting in 2003, HWMO linked with Puako Community Association to provide technical assistance in planning and creating a fuelbreak to protect homes from the kiawe wildland. The fuelbreak has received much applause from emergency responders in Hawaii and even from the U.S. and other countries. The Puako Community Association has been successfully maintaining the fuelbreak for a decade or so now.
A new chapter is opening for the coastal community: they will be working towards Firewise Communities certification through HWMO’s assistance. Puako is one of at least ten communities statewide that are working with HWMO to increase their community-wide wildfire readiness through the Firewise Communities program.
On August 18th, HWMO Community Outreach Coordinator Pablo Beimler met with a dozen Puako community members who wanted to learn more about the Firewise certification process. A majority of them pledged to take part in whatever capacity they could offer, including being a part of a Firewise Committee or helping organize community preparedness events.