California retains title as state with most Firewise communities

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California has set a new record of designated Firewise USA communities with the recognition of Rancho/Middle Canyon in Monterey County as the 600th Firewise Community in the state.

The recognition by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) highlights the steps the community has taken to ensure that wildfire risk is reduced in their area.

The Carmel Valley community of Rancho/Middle Canyon in Monterey County gets the distinction of being California’s 600th Firewise USA Community. The community worked closely with the CAL FIRE – Office of the State Fire Marshal’s Firewise Southern California Area Liaison, Battalion Chief Gene Potkey and Monterey County Regional Fire District’s Division Chief Kevin Kamnikar to complete the application.

The Firewise USA recognition program is administered by NFPA. Individuals and communities participate on a voluntary basis and are recognized as a Firewise community upon the completion of certain tasks, including forming a committee of residents and other wildfire stakeholders, obtaining a written risk assessment form, with assistance from Division Chief Kevin Kamnikar, including hosting an outreach event and ultimately completing their application to become a Firewise community.  

Mark Angel, community leader, commented: “Building the connection in the community allows us to check on neighbours and check on our neighbour’s properties when an evacuation occurs. Community building is the greatest benefit as it is the first line of defence, it is your neighbours that need to stick together and work together, it makes all the difference in the world.”

California State Fire Marshal Mike Richwine, said: “While we celebrate the recognition of the Rancho/Middle Canyon community, we are grateful to all 600 communities who have worked hard this year to prepare their neighborhoods for wildfire.”

Chief Daniel Berlant, Deputy Director of CAL FIRE-Office of the State Fire Marshal’s Community Wildfire Preparedness and Mitigation Division., said: “A part of our wildfire preparedness strategy this year has been to work closely with local communities and neighborhoods in earning the Firewise Community recognition. Reaching the 600th community mark is a huge accomplishment, especially since it was just seven months ago that we hit 500.”

“Wildfires can impact dozens or hundreds of homes simultaneously,” said Michele Steinberg, NFPA Wildfire Division director. “The work that people do along with their neighbors through Firewise USA helps the whole community to bend down the risk curve.”

To learn the steps and begin the process of becoming a California Firewise community, visit the Ready for Wildfire website

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