We are extremely grateful to be a part of the Firewise Communities program and were highlighted for our efforts in January's National Fire Protection Association's (NFPA) Fire Break newsletter!
"Wildfire in Hawaii, like anywhere else, threatens the safety of firefighters, residents andhomes. It also causes damage to the air quality, which impacts human health, and contributes to soil erosion problems that can cause damage to sensitive coral reefs. One of the partners in Hawaii working to help lessen the loss due to wildfire in Hawaii is the Hawaiian Wildfire Management Organization (HWMO). They are a small nonprofit organization that has been working together with fire departments, the Hawaii Division of Forestry and Wildlife, communities and others to help develop Community Wildfire Protection Plans (CWPPs) and Firewise Communities. The HWMO was officially founded in 2000 by a group of South Kohala/North Kona regional experts who wanted to create a non-profit organization to serve as an arm for the fire suppression and land management agencies to conduct prevention, pre-suppression, and post-fire work. They became incorporated as a 501(c)(3) non-profit in 2002. Since then, they have grown to not only address wildfire issues for all of Hawaii Island, but also the entire state and some of the Western Pacific (namely Yap, Palau, Guam).
According to Pablo Beimler, Coordinator with HWMO, "'Although we have a small staff, HWMO is continually able to accomplish a number of projects due to its extensive partnerships. We can't say it enough: by staying in communication with our partners on each project, and expanding partnerships where needed, they are able to ensure our projects stay grounded and effective.'"
"Pablo described other wildfire preparedness projects in which HWMO is involved. "We have a Firewise demonstration garden in Waikoloa Village, where we have a number of native, drought-tolerant plants growing strategically around a demo home to give community members an example of good defensible space practices. Our team has held a number of community events at the garden and have had a youth environmental empowerment group called the Malama Kai Ocean Warriors help be the ‘stewards’ of the garden. In terms of other youth outreach, we also go to numerous schools and youth programs to teach students about wildfire prevention and preparedness, including Firewise and Ready, Set, Go! principles. We also hold community wildfire preparedness workshops for various organizations/groups or for the general public where we give people a run-down on Firewise and Ready, Set, Go!."