Firewise Communities/USA


Firewise Communities/USA Recognition Program encourages and acknowledges citizens action to reduce community wildfire risk.  the program capitalizes on a community's spirit, its resolve and its willingness to take responsibility for its wildfire ignition potential.

The program provides a flexible template for residents of homeowners associations or small towns to improve their wildfire readiness and works as an organizing mechanism for initiating wildfire mitigation actions.  Participation in Firewise Communities/USA is an ongoing process of community commitment to wildfire safety.

During the month of November 2016, Pine Mountain Estates kept a watchful eye on the South Mountain State Park wildfire that consumed over 6,000 acres.  Because of this, Pine Mountain Estates has started a new Committee called "Firewise" after the Firewise Communities Program that encourages local solutions for safety by involving homeowners in taking individual responsibility for preparing their homes from the risk of a wildfire.  Firewise is co-sponsored by the USDA Forest Service, the US Department of the Interior, and the National Association of State Foresters.


Pine Mountain Firewise Assessment

January 2017, Eric Muecke, Urban Forestry Specialist and Firewise Program Assistant along with a couple of Pine Mountain's Firewise Committee members, physically reviewed and documented the Pine Mountain Community.  The results were presented in an assessment book that contains a load of information each and every home and property owner needs to know.  Please download a copy of the Pine Mountain Estates Firewise Communities/USA Project book and your copy of the Individual Home Owner Assessment Sheet.

The National Firewise Communitites/USA has created "A User Reference Guide to the Firewise Communities/USA Recognition Program" that is filled with valuable information.  

Firewise Grant:

Attention all property owners of Pine Mountain:  To see and understand the Pine Mountain Firewise 2017 Grant and how your participation counts and matters, click "Pine Mountain Firewise 2017 Grant" to receive your copy.

Firewise Time Sheet:

Keep track of your FIREWISE hours!   Click here to download your FIREWISE Time Sheet!!!!

These sheets are to be used for any time or money you spend on your home and/or surrounding property for the purpose of reducing the probability of wildfire loss.

Examples of Activities:

  • Removing trees, brush, grass from around your structures
  • Cleaning gutters of pine needles and other debris.  Cleaning the roof and clearing anything flammable from within 3-feet of the base of the structure.
  • Removing tree limbs less than 6 - 10 feet from the ground around structures
  • Replacing a shake-shingle roof with a non-flammable alternative

Please turn in your completed Home Assessment and Time sheets to any member of the Firewise Committee.


Pine Mountain Firewise Committee Update:

By:  Ruth Robertson

The FIREWISE Committee has designated Saturday, April 22 as our Pine Mountain Spring Clean-Up Day. Very appropriate since April 22 is also EARTH DAY!

What is Spring Clean-Up Day?  This event will kick off our 2017 community activities to make our mountain and our home sites safer from a wildfire.  Anything that we do around our Pine Mountain residences or our community common areas to reduce our wildfire risk counts.  Raking leaves, clearing out debris that has collected over the winter, trimming back bushes and low hanging tree limbs, cutting down dead trees or bushes around your house, etc., all count as eligible clean-up activities!  And any such activity at our community common areas also counts!

Why is this important?  Because spring ushers in not only warm weather and the return of our beautiful summer foliage, but also an increased risk of wildfires.  And for those of us living in the mountains, risk of a wildfire is always present.  The goal of the PM FIREWISE Committee is to reduce our community’s risk for wildfire ignition in the 200 feet surrounding each residence and common area.  Our best defense against a wildfire destroying lives and property on our mountain is to increase awareness for the simple steps we can all take to reduce the opportunity for a wildfire to burn your home.

We all had quite a scare this past November with the wildfire that burned roughly 6000 acres next door at the State Park.  That was our wake-up call and a wildfire drill for our community.  Now is the time for us to take individual actions around our homes here at Pine Mountain to help reduce our chance of home ignition should a wildfire occur here.  Take a look at the 200 foot perimeter around your residence.  How safe is your home?  Your neighbor’s home?  Our common areas?

Not sure what to be looking for?  There is a FIREWISE Individual Home Owner Assessment Sheet you can use as a guide to determine the risk hazard for your home.  Your individual home score will provide you a roadmap of possible things you can do to help reduce your risk of home ignition should a wildfire encroach on your property.  No home will have a perfect score, but for most of us there will be steps we can take to improve our home’s safety and many of those steps can be taken during Spring Clean-up!

Visit www.ncfirewise.org, the PM Facebook page or the PM website to download an Assessment Sheet.  Fill out your sheet (no fudging!!!) to get an honest assessment of what your home’s risk is.  And then take what steps you can to help mitigate those risks.

Almost last but not least, please keep track of the number of hours you spend on your FIREWISE activities – whether it is on April 22 or any other day of your choosing – and turn those hours into the FIREWISE Committee (POA office).  Because Pine Mountain is trying to acquire State recognition as a FIREWISE Community, and part of that recognition process is a minimum of $2 per capita annual investment in wildfire safety.   Our volunteer hours – which include time spent around our personal residence and common areas to make our homes and community safer from wildfire ignition – is credited towards our per capita investment.

For each hour of our time we spend on FIREWISE related activities, we are credited with $23.56 per hour towards our per capita minimum investment.  What a deal! Increase your home's chances for survival in the event of a Pine Mountain wildfire and help us reach our per capita annual investment goal for being a FIREWISE community!  Time well spent for each of us!

And if you have a neighbor who needs help with spring clean-up chores around their home, please help them by pitching in to improve their FIREWISE safety as well.

And last but not least – for this quarter’s newsletter anyway – please share the results of your individual home assessment sheet with our FIREWISE Committee.  This will help us with our overall assessment of our community’s challenges and readiness in meeting a wildfire emergency.  If you are willing to share the results of your individual home assessment, then please give Patti a copy of your completed assessment form.

A copy of the 2016 Pine Mountain Estates Risk Assessment Summary Report that was prepared for us by our Forest Service liaison is available for your review in the documents section of our Facebook PM Members page, and a hard copy is available in the Library at the POA office.  This assessment is for our PM community in general. Please take some time to review this report and should you have questions, please don’t hesitate to contact the FIREWISE Committee.

Thank you for your interest in this effort and let us all pray for a safe and fire-free summer season here on the mountain!


Program Requires:

  • Complete a community assessment
  • Form a Firewise board or committee in order to accept the assessment, create an action plan and monitor activity.
  • Hold a Firewise Day event
  • Invest at least $2/capita annually in community mitigation activities
  • Complete and submit a program application

Working Together:

Relying on physical and social science research

Residents learn how their homes ignite based on physical principles and thus how to modify their surrounding to reduce ignition risks.  Social science principles helps program leaders and advocates use effective risk communication and behavior change techniques to ensure that individuals and organizations in a diverse society can receive important safety messages and act upon them.


Keep an eye out on Pine Mountain's Facebook page for all FIREWISE activities!