Kauaiʻi Fire Department trained to assess wildfire risk for homeowners : Kauai Now

This week, the Hawai’i Wildfire Management Organization is offering “Community Ambassador” training on how to conduct wildfire risk assessments for Big Island landowners.

In Kauaʻi, the fire department undergoes similar training.

“They hope to mobilize and inspire communities on this island to become Firewise,” said Nani Barretto, co-executive director of the Hawai’i Wildfire Management Organization.

It’s not your typical home appraisers who determine the value of your home, but specially trained people who will conduct free reviews of the safety of a property and its structures against the threat of wildfires.

The first year of the Home Ignition Zone Evaluator training was triggered by a request from one of the 15 Firewise communities in Hawai’i.


“I mentioned the idea and they all said that if there was funding to support in-home assessments, we would love to provide our community and neighbors with the education to do risk assessments. home fire,” Barretto said. “This first year is our pilot.”

Firewise USA is a national program of the National Fire Protection Association, with communities in 37 states. Some, like California, have dozens of communities in the program, and some have only one.

Hawai’i has three other communities currently going through the Firewise recognition process.

“It’s spreading, it’s spreading,” Barretto said.


Mike Walker, state protection forester for the state Forestry and Wildlife Division, which is primarily responsible for wildfire suppression on state forest lands, said: interfaces urban. Nearly 99% of these ignitions are of human origin; whether it’s a welder, parking a car on dry grass, or an intentional fire like arson.

“When we want to protect our forests from fire, we also really want to protect our communities from fire. When ignitions happen in a WUI, they are the people most affected, so we really want to help the community as much as we want to help the forest.

You can’t miss that the Pu’ukapu Homestead community on Mauna Kea’s lower northern flank is a Firewise USA community. A pair of signs, as you turn onto Mana Road, announce his participation.

In August 2021, the massive Mana Road wildfire burned two structures here. On Friday, the prospective home assessors practiced what they had learned during classroom instruction Thursday at a Pu’ukapu home.


In teams, they walked around the house noting things like defensible space, type of house construction, and nearby ignition sources. For this house, Walker noted that it’s a metal roof: “It’s a real fire-rated roof. She has a nice concrete slab around the house which is a good thing and keeping the grass, that zero to five foot area, is important to keep any flammable material away from the house.

Over the next two years, evaluators will focus their efforts in designated Firewise communities. Awards and grants from the US Forest Service and Coalitions and Collaborations provide information, technical and financial support to Community Ambassadors to complete 390 individual home assessments.

“After that, if there’s a demand and all of these assessors are willing to go on, we’ll open it up to residents of surrounding communities,” Barretto said. “Sometimes it’s the only inspiration needed for a resident to connect with another neighbor and say, ‘Hey, there’s a program called Firewise.’

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