Lahaina’s community came out in droves to help Lahainaluna High School recover from the August brushfire during Hurricane Lane. This video from Lahianaluna Digital Media will brighten your day by showing you what a community-wide resilient spirit looks like.
It makes us so happy to see so much aloha during a challenging time with the large fires burning on Oahu. Learn how you can support the firefighters by calling: Renee at 808-953-8919, Noe at 808-861-3122, or Maranda at 808-861-0874. Mahalo to the community members who are looking after our hard-working firefighters!
Hawaii residents are donating goods in droves in a show of support for the firefighters who have been battling the treacherous west side brush fires since Saturday.
“It really helps the guys," said Honolulu Fire Capt. Scot Seguirant. "When they’re out there working hard and they come back, and they find out that what’s there is actually from the community, that’s awesome. It makes you feel the love and makes you continue to do your job well.”
The two fires — in Waianae Valley and Makaha Valley — have scorched a combined 8,800 acres of land on the Leeward Coast.
So far dozens of Oahu residents, both adults and children, have dropped off items at the Waianae Fire Station, including donations of bottled water, Gatorade, fresh fruit, and granola bars, among other items.
Important tips on evacuation planning from our friends at Maui Fire Department. You can find more tips and evacuation planning templates in the Ready, Set, Go! Wildland Fire Action Guide - Hawaii version.
From the Source:
"Developing and practicing a home escape plan is like building muscle memory," said Jeffrey Murray, fire chief of the Maui Fire Department.
"That pre-planning is what everyone will draw upon to snap into action and escape as quickly as possible in the event of a fire."
"In support of Fire Prevention Week, all Maui County households are encouraged to develop a plan together and practice it. A home escape plan includes working smoke alarms on every level of the home, in every bedroom and near all sleeping areas.
It also includes two ways out of every room - usually a door and a window - with a clear path to an outside meeting place (such as a tree, light pole or mailbox) that's a safe distance from the home."
Thank you to The Conversation on HPR for highlighting the wildfire issue and having HWMO's Elizabeth Pickett as a guest on the show! Peak wildfire season is not over (and in Hawaii, fire season is all year long) so stay vigilant, have a plan, and evacuate early.
From the Source:
"Hawaii has its own problem with wildfires, and each summer seems to bring a rash of fires that are mostly caused by people – some accidental, many of them deliberate. The Hawaii Wildfire Management Organization compiles the available data about each year’s wildfires."
We are ecstatic to see that the Firefighter Chili Cook-Off made the front page of the West Hawaii Today on Monday, August 28! Thank you to everyone who made the cook-off such a wonderful event and successful fundraiser. You can also read more by checking out our blog post.
From the Source:
"The sold out fundraiser for the Hawaii Wildfire Management Organization (HWMO) was attended by over 200 guests who sampled and voted for their favorite chili recipe.
HWMO’s mission is dedicated to proactive and collaborative wildfire related education, outreach and technical assistance, project implementation and research.
Money raised will go to the nonprofit organization’s operating costs, according to Pablo Beimler, Community Outreach Coordinator.
Beimler said 25,000 flyers recently went out to students across the state as part of their school outreach, and coloring books are on their way."
Another testament to why it is so important to teach our keiki about fireworks safety - not only are fireworks an injury risk but when used near dry vegetation, they can be a major fire hazard. We are happy to hear that the keiki were safe from the fire and that one of them took ownership and called in the fire.
"West Maui fire crews responded to a brush fire reported mauka of Hookahua Street and on the south side of Lahainaluna Road at 2 p.m. on Saturday, July 8, 2017."
"No structures were damaged, but flames came to within 40 feet of one home. An
electrical power pole for a 69,000 volt transmission line had been damaged in the fire and was threatening to collapse, hampering firefighter’s efforts to mop up the fire which scorched a total of 3 acres."
"The brush fire was ruled accidental after it was discovered that three 12-year-old boys were playing with fireworks and the strong winds blew it towards dry grass setting it on fire. One of the boys did the right thing and quickly called 911 to report what had happened."
We are excited to say that not only was HWMO's Beach Party for Wildfire Awareness a success on May 6, but it also received statewide media attention. One of the highlights of the event was the official launch of Wildfire Lookout!, a multi-partner coordinated statewide wildfire prevention and preparedness campaign. Mahalo to KHON2, KITV, and Big Island Video News for coverage of the event, and a very special mahalo to Department of Land and Natural Resources for documenting the day's proceedings and sharing with the media.
From the Sources:
"'In the end, all of us are impacted by wildfire. It’s just that some of those impacts are more invisible than others, so people aren’t quite as aware,' Elizabeth Pickett, executive director of the Hawaii Wildfire Management Organization, said.
Pickett says over 25-percent of the state has been invaded by non-native, fire-prone grasses and shrubs.
That percentage grows as fires consume native forests which are then taken over by those invasive species." - KHON2
"The importance of land and homeowners to be fire ready is the theme of National Community Wildfire Preparedness Day events and activities across the country today. At the Old Kona Airport State Recreation Area on Hawai‘i Island’s west side, Elizabeth Pickett watched as several non-profit organizations set up booths and exhibits for the first-ever Beach Party for Wildfire Awareness. Pickett is the executive director of the Hawai‘i Wildfire Management Organization (HWMO), which with DLNR, and two dozen other State and federal government organizations and various non-profits are supporting the second year of a public and media awareness campaign: Wildfire LOOKOUT!
Pickett explained to people who dropped by the HWMO booth, that just because they may never have personally experienced a wildfire close to their home or property, that doesn’t mean they weren’t impacted. She explained, “Especially in our island environment the negative impacts of a wildfire in a specific location usually has detrimental impacts many miles away that can persist for years and even decades. You often hear people refer to 'mauka to makai,' and that effect pertains to wildfire. Once land is stripped of trees and vegetation it becomes much more prone to erosion and the introduction of invasive species and soot and sediment can wash from mountain forests to the sea where it can choke out life in coral reefs.'
Big Island State Representative Cindy Evans emphasized the need for everyone in Hawai‘i to become aware of these impacts and to do their part to prevent wildland fires. She’s seen first- hand the devastation and destruction, these often fast moving fires cause. Evans said, 'Even the loss of one home is one too many when you consider that with a little awareness, people truly can prevent wildland fires.'" - Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources (picked up by Big Island Video News)
Check out Fire Adapted Communities Learning Network's feature on HWMO released today, written by Community Outreach Coordinator, Pablo Beimler.
Excited to see the hard work of HWMO and its Pacific partners showcased on the national stage!
Mahalo Fire Adapted Communities Learning Network for the opportunity to share our lessons learned.
"Living in the most remote island chain in the world with over 2,500 miles of Pacific Ocean separating us from the continental U.S. (a.k.a. “the mainland”), it is only fitting that Hawai‘i has a unique set of traits and challenges that can sometimes make one feel isolated from the rest of the world. However, the era of modern networking capabilities is helping shed light on the commonalities we share, while still honoring the differences that make us unique."
"Starting in 2013, HWMO collaborated with the IAFC Ready, Set, Go! program to produce a Hawaii-version of the Wildland Fire Action Guide. IAFC graciously printed 10,000 copies for HWMO and county fire departments to distribute. Replacing photos and references to conifer forests, shake roof homes, and other mainland- WUI features, HWMO integrated Hawai’i-specific photos and information and added an introductory section about wildfire in Hawai’i’. Since incorporating the new guide into our fire preparedness workshops and outreach booths, we’ve noticed a spike in interest from residents and even visitors about the Ready, Set, Go! program. Whether learning how to prevent embers from collecting under the lanai (patio) or browsing the visual list of recommended Firewise native plants, residents have taken the RSG! guides into their own hands. Launiupoko Firewise Committee in West Mauʻi plans to send more than 350 guides to residents as their first ever Firewise event."
We are honored to be this year's 2016 Ready Set Go! Leadership Award for Career Department recipient! The Ready, Set, Go! program has been an incredible partner and a crucial resource for wildfire preparation information over the past few years. Big mahalo for all of their kokua over the years!
We look forward to formally accepting the award at this year's Wildland-Urban Interface Conference in Reno on March 9th!
- The RSG Award for Excellence
- Flower Mound (Texas) Fire Department
- The RSG Innovation Award
- Austin (Texas) Fire Department Wildfire Division
- The RSG Leadership Award
- Career Department: Hawaii Wildfire Management Organization
- Volunteer/Combination Department: Aubrey (Texas) Fire Department
"The winners have incorporated the RSG! Program into their prefire mitigation or preparedness outreach. They’ve also demonstrated innovation in expanding the program to neighboring emergency service groups to enhance wildfire readiness throughout their communities. These RSG champions have helped their communities become actively engaged in the wildland-fire solution."
"Recently, HWMO created and printed a state Action Guide, taking steps to make it as detailed and specific to their region as possible. HWMO used RSG education as a first step toward community engagement in order to ensure RSG principles are not only shared but also put into action. They worked with partners and their community to develop a strategic and innovative process that started with an initial CWPP meeting to identify community-based priorities and wildfire concerns. Their innovative and engaging ideas in promoting RSG and fire wise landscaping make them this year’s winner of the RSG Leadership Award for Career Departments."
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!."
Out of our superb team of action takers in Waimea sprouted a National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) #TakeAction winner! Congratulations Kyren Martins!
"Five Waimea Middle School students assembled together in a group organized by the Hawai’i Wildlife Management Organization to address wildfire prevention and preparedness. One of those students gained national recognition."
"Martins and Rillanos created prevention signs, Murakami-Mattos worked on a video project that focuses on 'good versus bad defensible space,' and Bell-Kaopuiki and Rivera joined together to remove flammable plant debris from the Mālaʻai Culinary Garden.
Martins was one of ten national recipients. His family was affected by the Kawaihae fire and flooding that followed in August. As a project, Martins made and installed a wildfire prevention sign at the edge of his home, visible from the roadway."
A touching story of firefighters and the local community coming together to help a boy's fight against a rare and aggressive cancer. Find out how you can help at the end of the article.
"Beloved Maui boy, Trucker Dukes, who has been battling a rare and aggressive cancer for about a year, was recognized today as an honorary firefighter with the Maui Department of Fire and Public Safety. The event included a badge pinning ceremony, taking an oath to fight hard against cancer, a spin around the station in a fire truck, chocolate cake, toy firetrucks and his own firefighter turnout gear."
Great job by Honolulu FIre Department and Federal Fire Department of getting this year's Fire Prevention Week message out to the public.
"HFD hosted a full day of fire safety activities and games, as well as prizes and interactive displays.
Smokey Bear and Sparky the Fire Dog also made appearance.
'Our biggest thing is to test your smoke detectors once a month and also to create a family fire evacuation plan, so that’s what we’re stressing today,' said Federal Fire inspector Angela Sanders."
"Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park held the ninth of 10 annual BioBlitz events over the weekend. The events are hosted by National Geographic and the National Park Service and have spanned the entire country over the past decade. According to HVNP officials, the events are leading up the NPS’s centennial in 2016.
The 2015 event, which was a combined BioBlitz and Biodiversity & Cultural Festival, hosted more than 6,000 people including more than 850 school-aged children. During the event, more than 170 scientists and traditional Hawaiian practitioners came together to conduct a comprehensive inventory of the plants, insects, mammals, birds, and other species that inhabit HVNP. Officials say the program gathers a 'vivid snapshot of the unique plant and animal biodiversity in the park.'"
"'The BioBlitz and Biodiversity & Cultural Festival presented an incredible opportunity to connect the community with leading scientists, international sister parks, and cultural practitioners this weekend,' said park Superintendent Cindy Orlando. 'This even embodies our National Park Service centennial mission to encourage everyone to Find Your Park – literally – by exploring and understanding our vital connection to our natural world.'
"For more than 10 years, the Hawaii Wildfire Management Organization, a nonprofit organization based in Waimea, has been on a mission to protect Hawaii’s communities and natural resources from the growing threat of wildfires.
Hawaii’s proportion of land area burned each year has either matched or exceeded that of any of the fire-prone Western U.S. states. The impacts of wildfire range from human safety and native forest destruction, to coral reef smothering caused by post-fire erosion and run-off.
Since 98 percent of wildfires in Hawaii are caused by humans and many are caused accidentally, we can all work together to help solve this issue by spreading the word about wildfires and the ways we can prevent them and protect our families, communities, and lands.
To get involved and offer kokua, Hawaii Wildfire is teaming with the Rotary Club of Kona and Denny’s to host Project Compassion from 4-9 p.m. Sunday at Denny’s Restaurant in Kona. With the public’s support, Hawaii Wildfire can continue its mission and expand its outreach efforts. The organization will receive 20 percent of the food and beverage sales and 100 percent of guest servers’ tips."
It pays to have and practice an evacuation plan. Case in point, last Friday, a brushfire right next to the Honaunau Elementary School campus sparked school staff and parents to lead students to an open field above the school, following their evacuation protocol. Everyone was kept out of harm's way as firefighters were able to quickly respond and put the fire out.
Does your child's school or even your own home have an evacuation plan and most importantly, is it regularly rehearsed?
Honolulu Fire Department offers great advice on what you should do with your smoke alarms (visit http://www.usalarm.com/home-security-topics/home-to-be-fire-safe.html for more information):
From the Source:
"Changing out the alarm's batteries is just one of many tips students painted on a total of 48 murals now on display at every Oahu fire station. Fire officials say it's a strategic move to help spread the word.
'Not only do the children learn about fire safety, they come home and bring that education to their parents as well,' said Capt. David Jenkins.
Their tip for all households -- to maintain smoke alarms by regularly vacuuming or dusting them. Press that test button monthly and change the alarm's batteries every year."
"It's a common misconception to put fire alarms in kitchens. Firefighters say ordinary cooking can set them off causing people to take them down altogether. Their suggestion -- put them where you sleep.
"We should have smoke alarms in every bedroom, outside the sleeping area and we should have one on every floor of the building," said Capt. Jenkins.
Fire officials also suggest that homeowners change out their alarms every 10 years. They say the alarm's electronics can wear out over time."
The Makakilo fire is a stark reminder of just how easy a fire can start and carry in Hawaii. 2 young 7-year-old boys and a lighter is all it takes to cause a $54,000 suppression effort (not counting the post-fire structural and natural resource damages.)
Practice fire safety with your kids using these parental guides:
From the Source:
"'We want parents to realize that this could happen to anyone and how important it is to discuss fire safety with their children. We will participate in a fire safety program with them. Sorry,' he said on Saturday.The family will now go through a fire safety class with the fire department to discuss the dangers of playing with fire.
'The difference is delivery. It’s going to be a one-on-one education and anything else that we see is necessary in teaching them, we’ll work with them,' Capt. Jenkins said.
Children get fire safety lessons from a firefighters safety guide in school during Fire Prevention Week."
If you have to evacuate your residence, make sure you follow protocol from your local agencies (i.e. Civil Defense and Honolulu Fire Department). Stay tuned to the radio, news, internet and other media sources. Pay attention to your surroundings at all times. Fires can rapidly change course and be a threat even if they seem like they are far away or diminishing. Best to be safe and leave as early as possible.
Civil Defense: (808) 733-4300
Honolulu Fire Department: (808) 723-7139
From the Source:
"The brush fire that scorched nearly 1,000 acres in Makakilo continues to burn, Honolulu Fire Department officials said, and it is heading north and away from residences.
Officials lifted the evacuation for Palehua residents at around 12:30 p.m. Sunday.
'We would like to commend everybody, especially the other agencies...DLNR, DOFA, Federal Fire Department, even HPD with their contribution of their helicopter. Everybody contributed to the successes so far of this incident,' said Capt. David Jenkins with the Honolulu Fire Department. According to HFD, two young boys playing with lighters caused the large brush fire in Makakilo. Officials say the two 7-year-old boys are brothers.
'We are here to say we regret what has happened. Our children realize the consequences of their actions. We want parents to realize this can happen to anyone and how important it is discuss fire safety with their children. We will be participating in a fire safety program," said Troy Wright, the boys' father.'"
We made it onto the front page of West Hawaii Today (Sunday edition) - great article recapping the Wildfire Preparedness Day event we held at the Waikoloa Dryland Wildfire Safety Park. The article also covers some of the wildfire issues communities in Hawaii face and some of the steps people can take to protect their homes and families.
From the Source:
'Waikoloa Village resident Melissa Newberg vividly remembers the Lalamilo fire of 2005.
Eight months pregnant, she and her family scrambled to pack up photo albums and important papers. As a fire that would ultimately consume 25,000 acres burned fiercely outside the village and helicopters buzzed overhead, the Newbergs evacuated to a friend’s house in Kailua-Kona.
“People were driving on the wrong side of the road. It was pretty chaotic,” she said. “We didn’t know if we would have a house the next day.”
The Newberg home was spared — albeit with a thick layer of ash left on the lanai.
Nine years later, Newberg and her 3-year-old son, Xavier, sat in the Waikoloa Dryland Wildfire Safety Park. While her daughters, Kamila and Alena, placed native plants in the cinder soil nearby, Newberg cleaned up dead leaves.
It is the type of activity the Hawaii Wildfire Management Organization is encouraging everyone to do as the island heads into summer. It is also a cue the western mainland states would do well to follow, as drought and high fuel loads spark wildfire fears on the national level.
The Melia Street wildfire safety park was part of a larger demonstration by the Hawaii Wildfire Management Organization that landscaping with native plants can reduce fire risks around the home. It was a centerpiece of a wildfire awareness event Saturday that also featured informational booths, art projects, presentations and tours of fire engines and emergency vehicles.
Piper Heath, 11, and Sai Cordeiro, 12, were part of a group of youngsters planting seedlings at the park Saturday. They are both members of Waikoloa Future Foresters, a group created three years ago by the Waikoloa Dry Forest Initiative to bring area children in contact with reforestation, fire prevention and other aspects of conservation. Part of their task is to understand the park, help take care of its plants and give tours to the public.
Heath and Cordeiro happened to be planting Cordeiro’s favorite plant, the ihi, a native succulent.
“It’s like a cactus. It holds water,” he explained. “The more water it gets, the more it holds. I like the shape of the leaves and the yellow flowers it gives.”
The park, with plantings of ilima papa, wiliwili and a ground cover called pohinahina, is meant to demonstrate that fire-resistant native plants can be low maintenance, said Pablo Beimler, education and outreach coordinator for Hawaii Wildfire Management Organization.
“These plants are already adapted to the ecosystem and the minerals in the soil,” Beimler said.
They represent a less colorful but wiser choice from a fire safety perspective than the flamboyant bougainvillea, which tends to leave a lot of flammable debris. Beimler said that picking up woody debris from the yard is one of the best ways residents can help prevent fires.
“Where the wind collects all the debris is also where the wind will take the embers,” he said. “That’s scary and it’s not a connection people always make.”
Residents should also put fine screens over their vents — especially at the foundation level — as a key step to keep burning embers from blowing in, Beimler said. Other measures include keeping a “defensible space,” of area cleared of dead vegetation in a 30-foot perimeter around the home — plus making sure grass, trees and other vegetation are trimmed.
A general awareness of the conditions on the surrounding landscape, and a family action plan in time of fire are also important, Beimler said.
“Fire is a mauka to makai issue,” he said. “It affects everything.”
The problem of fire isn’t limited just to ruined forests and homes, said Elizabeth Pickett, Hawaii Wildfire Management Organization’s executive director. Erosion from the exposed land washes downhill and can smother reefs, bringing environmental consequences into the ocean.
“We’re still dealing with the dust and sediment issues from the 2005 and 2007 fires,” she said.'