Ready Set Go!

Waikii Ranch 3rd Annual Firewise BBQ

Chief Eric Moller gives the latest wildfire conditions update.

Chief Eric Moller gives the latest wildfire conditions update.

Waikii Ranch became a Firewise Community in 2017 and has been going strong ever since in their community-based wildfire resilience efforts. On Saturday, May 18, HWMO’s Pablo Akira Beimler and Carson Magoon were invited to join residents for an info session and BBQ. We shared HWMO updates and stressed the importance of getting ready now rather than later for peak fire season.

U.S. Army-Garrison, FES Chief Eric Moller and Captain Bill Bergin from Hawaii Fire Department also gave brief presentations, reiterating the importance of Firewise landscaping, home fire-proofing, and evacuation planning (Ready, Set, Go!)

The food was delicious, and as an added bonus, each resident could take home a koaia tree to plant in their own yard as part of their Firewise landscaping.

West Kauaʻi Ready Set Go! Workshop and Home Ignition Zone Training

Earlier this week, Hawaiʻi Wildfire Management Organization traveled to West Kauaʻi to present the Ready Set Go! framework, and even practice those concepts in the field at the beautiful Kōkeʻe State Park.

HWMO Executive Director Elizabeth teaches what to look out for while assessing Home Ignition Zones.

HWMO Executive Director Elizabeth teaches what to look out for while assessing Home Ignition Zones.

It was great to hear from members of the community in Waimea the night before, and Pablo Beimler (HWMOʻs Community Outreach Coordinator) did a great job presenting the Ready Set Go! (RSG) framework. The RSG! program was devised by the International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC), and is a very useful tool, presenting the best practices for preventing unintended fires from happening in the first place, and then if they do happen, what steps to take and WHEN to take them. We were joined by representatives of the DLNR Division of Forestry and Wildlife (DOFAW), and went over some of the actions that Waimea residents could take to prevent destructive wildfires.

The Ready Set Go! workshop participants.

The Ready Set Go! workshop participants.

The RSG! presentation was filled with information on how to reduce the risk of certain wildfire fuels surrounding your home, how to lessen the chances of wildfire spread from surrounding vegetation to your structure, as well as how to protect structures themselves from igniting, should the embers or flames from a fire come into contact. We all walked away with a little more knowledge on how protect ourselves, our homes, and our livelihoods from fire.

After Pabloʻs presentation, we learned a significant amount about the obstacles certain community members are up against while taking measures to reduce wildfire hazards around their properties and homes. The community members, agency representatives, and HWMO had time to converse and share ideas on the next steps that could be taken to reduce fire risk.

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The next morning, we met and went through a Home Ignition Zone (HIZ) score card at Kōkeʻe state park, where one cabin resident allowed us to assess the fire risk of built structures at his cabin. It was beneficial to put the knowledge we had gleamed the night before into direct use, and understand what phrases like ladder fuels, fire-prone brush, and defensible spaces meant while applying it to a real-life structure. Each member of that workshop left with a greater understanding of how fire can travel faster uphill, the risks of storing wood underneath your house that could easily act as kindling, and how tree branches growing right next to the eaves of your roof could ignite your structure. It was a beautiful day outside in the precious native forest of Kōkeʻe.

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We would like to thank the community members that came out to this event to learn how to be more Firewise, as well as the member of DOFAW that helped put on this educational event. DOFAW representatives Mapuana, Ceanne, Kawika, and Mike all helped us put on the successful event. We look forward to working with the West Kauaʻi communities again in the future, and hope to see the Ready Set Go! program grow there so that the people in those communities are as prepared as they can be in the event of a wildfire. An ounce of prevention is worth more than a pound of suppression!

Mahalo everyone for making this event successful!

Kaʻū ReadySetGo! Wildfire Preparedness Weekend

This past weekend, as part of Wildfire Preparedness Month, Hawaii Wildfire Management Organization (HWMO) teamed up with Nā Mamo O Kāwā (NMOK), and led a workshop on Friday night to help community members learn about the Ready Set Go! fire preparedness framework. Many people in the group were volunteer firefighters from the Kaʻū area, and had plenty of knowledge to share with everyone in the room. This wonderful night, which was hosted at the historic Pahala Plantation House was filled with anecdotal stories and great information to be absorbed as the community examined its current fire situation.

Before Ladder Fuel Thinning…

Before Ladder Fuel Thinning…

After!

After!

Community members were able to take immediate action the next day as we got our hands dirty in Kāwā restoration efforts. We got to put our ladder fuel knowledge into action as we removed lower branches of christmasberry and ʻekoa that could easily help a fire climb into the upper canopy of the forest. We planted several Firewise native plants including ʻaʻaliʻi that are now able to grow under the shade of the freshly pruned canopy. Members of NMOK taught us about the cultural significance of Kāwā, and the methods they are using to restore such an important place. In all, over 20 people participated in the 2 events, and we would like to extend a sincere mahalo for being a part of such a successful weekend!

Puukapu Pastoral Wildfire Planning Meeting and RSG! Workshop

HFD gives a presentation on wildfire access in Puukapu.

HFD gives a presentation on wildfire access in Puukapu.

An elaborate 3D map the Puukapu Pastoral committee assembled.

An elaborate 3D map the Puukapu Pastoral committee assembled.

Last year, Puukapu Pastoral became the 9th Firewise Community on Hawaii Island (and the 4th Firewise Community statewide on Hawaiian Home Lands). A committed group of community members from Puukapu Pastoral Steering Committee / Firewise are taking action to reduce the fire threats of the Waimea homestead area. Through outreach and education, community members are reaching out to neighbors about the importance of creating defensible space around houses, hardening homes, and having a household evacuation plan. The committee is also developing a well-thought-out, community-driven plan to create safer first response access and ingress/egress.

On March 21, the committee held a community meeting and invited HWMO and HFD representatives to give presentations. HWMO’s Pablo Akira Beimler gave a comprehensive Ready, Set, Go! wildfire preparedness workshop to the intent participants. The highlight of the night for us was to see an amazing 3D map the committee members had created (they were up till the wee hours of the night!) to demonstrate their color-coded road system proposal. We were very impressed with the level of detail and the immense effort and care the group put into this project. This community spirit is what keeps HWMO motivated to do the work that we do and support efforts like this. Keep up the great work, Puukapu!

Honokaa High School Classroom Presentation and Mock Community Meeting

Students place stickers on priority project ideas during a mock community meeting.

Students place stickers on priority project ideas during a mock community meeting.

HWMO’s Pablo Akira Beimler visited Ms. Solomon’s classroom at Honokaa High School on March 5 to give a presentation about wildfire. Pablo shared information on the Firewise Communities and Ready, Set, Go!, with a focus on the importance of coming together as a community to work towards wildfire protection solutions. After the brief presentation, Pablo had the students pair up for active listening exercises in preparation for a mock community meeting. Once students understood the concept of active listening, he assigned each student a “community role” to act as, each with their own varied interests and backgrounds. Then it was meeting time — each student shared their points of view while the others tuned in. The students gave their concerns and recommended actions and then used stickers to vote on their priority ideas, just as HWMO would do at an actual community meeting. At the final tally, the “community group” prioritized native plant restoration in a community area as the most important project idea. In the spirit of a true fire-adapted community, everyone came together to decide on what would be best to protect the “community” from wildfire.

You can find this activity and more in our kNOw Fire curriculum.

Malama Learning Center Teacher Training on Wildfire and Climate Change

West Oahu teachers play a round of “Fire Tag.”

West Oahu teachers play a round of “Fire Tag.”

HWMO’s Community Outreach Coordinator, Pablo Akira Beimler, and University of Hawaii CTAHR Cooperative Extension’s Wildfire Specialist, Dr. Clay Trauernicht presented a full morning of information on wildfire and climate change in Hawaii to West Oahu school teachers. West Oahu is an epicenter of wildfire activity, so we were very grateful for the opportunity to share information on Ready, Set, Go!, Firewise Communities, and Wildfire LOOKOUT! We even had the teachers do a round of “Fire Tag” to then teach to students — the game is a great way to learn about how fire has destroyed native forests and created Hawaiian savannas. Mahalo Malama Learning Center for inviting us and Kapolei High School for hosting us!

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Kohala Waterfront Firewise Educational Evening

Kohala Waterfront Wildfire Prep Day 2018

Kohala Waterfront Wildfire Prep Day 2018

Kohala Waterfront, a relatively new community in Kawaihae, invited HWMO’s Pablo Akira Beimler to join them for an educational evening on wildfire preparedness. In 2017, Kohala Waterfront became the 3rd community in Kawaihae on Hawaii Island to be nationally recognized as a Firewise Community. As an annual requirement, a Firewise Community must hold at least one educational event.

On February 11, 18 Kohala Waterfront homeowners gathered at the home of Firewise Chair, Marla Herman (Marla and her husband, Scott were amazing hosts). Pablo kicked off the night with a presentation on the Firewise Communities program, Ready, Set, Go!, and lessons learned from the memorable 2018 wildfire year in Hawaii. Following his presentation, Ms. Herman demonstrated what to pack in a “Go! bag” — the essentials that you need to evacuate early when a wildfire is in the area.

Mahalo Marla and the rest of the Kohala Waterfront Firewise Committee for continuing to raise the wildfire awareness level each year!

Wiliwili Festival 2019

Waikoloa Dry Forest Initiative each year throws a huge festival to bring people from all over the island and many visitors to Waikoloa to see their beautiful dry forest preserve and learn from various community groups about ways they can take action for the environment. HWMO set-up a booth this year with information on wildfire preparedness (including many Ready, Set, Go! action guides) and goodies for the kids (plus, a pachinko game and a “guess how many chili beans in the jar” game).

Learn how you can help restore the native forest of Waikoloa: https://waikoloadryforest.org/


New Year's Firewise Communities Potluck and RSG! Workshop

Community bonding is an important part of the wildfire solution. HWMO gathered Firewise Community members from a variety of different communities on Hawaii Island for a night of fun and learning on January 15 at Tutu’s House in Waimea. Along with an in-depth Ready, Set, Go! wildfire preparedness presentation, community members also mingled to meet each other and share about community successes and struggles dealing with wildfire. As an ice-breaker, we had a jan-ken-pon (rock, paper, scissors) tournament where community members faced off in one-game elimination matches. The winner was Diane Makaala Kanealii from Kailapa who then faced the winner of the Hawaii Fire Department tourney — and she beat them, too! The catch — each time a winner beat their opponent, that opponent had to join all following matches as a “fan” of that winner. By the end, the winner collects everyone as a fan for them, cheering and rooting them on. Mahalo The Nature Conservancy in Waimea for teaching us this fun spin on a classic!

Did we mention the super delicious make-your-own-taco bar! Thank you to everyone who contributed to the meal and came out to Tutu’s House.



Firewise Update Presentation with Kailapa Community Association Annual Meeting

Several updates were given at the meeting, including from HWMO.

Several updates were given at the meeting, including from HWMO.

On January 13, HWMO’s Pablo Beimler joined Kailapa Community Association for their annual meeting, which drew dozens of community members from the Hawaiian homestead community in Kawaihae. Pablo shared updates on the upcoming wildfire season, ReadySetGo! and Wildfire LOOKOUT! tips, and Firewise Communities information. Kailapa has been a nationally-recognized Firewise Community since 2016 and they continue to do a stellar job of taking action within the community to protect their area from wildfire. Mahalo Kailapa!