A few years ago, a brush fire swept through Kanehoa subdivision, nearly igniting a few homes along the edge of the wildland-urban interface boundary (WUI for short). In fact, a number of wildfires have threatened the community and with dry conditions on the horizon, community members are taking action. Over the past couple of months, HWMO has been working with the newly-formed Kanehoa Firewise Committee to plan for a series of preparedness and fuels-reduction events, with the goal of achieving Firewise Community Certification in mind.
Currently, the State of Hawaii has only one Firewise Community - Kohala By The Sea, but over the next two years, HWMO will be working with 10 communities to help them achieve "Firewise Community" status. Being recognized as a "Firewise Community" comes with a number of perks, such as the potential for lower insurance rates and greater access to funding and assistance. Most importantly, the nationally-recognized communities gain a sense of citizen pride in work that in the end protects their community from the growing threat of wildfire. To go a step further, HWMO will be working with these communities to make them "Fire Adapted Communities," a concept that incorporates every level of the community (people, businesses, infrastructure, cultural resources, natural areas, lawmakers, etc.) to prepare for the effects of wildfire.
As an important first step for the Kanehoa subdivision, Pablo Beimler and Troy Scott met with twenty-two community members (and two HFD personnel) to give a Ready, Set, Go! Workshop covering topics such as defensible space, fire-proofing of homes, evacuation planning, and community fuels reduction projects. After the presentation, HWMO led a field tour around one of the resident's homes to point out potential fire hazards and what residents could do to minimize them. An HFD Fire Captain provided expertise on firefighter suppression capabilities in the area.
Next month, HWMO and HFD's Fire Prevention officials will walk around the neighborhood to conduct a hazard assessment update for the community.
If you're community is interested in funding for fuels reduction projects and assistance for achieving Firewise Community Certification, please contact us!