Fire Adapted Communities: Nationwide Efforts and Community-Based Tools

Lead Author: Matt Frank

Publish date: 08.20.2015


Wildland fires have shaped North American landscapes for millenia and can provide many ecological benefits including a reduction in non-native plants and pests, removal of undergrowth that prevents regeneration of desired native species, and soil nutrient enrichment. However, today, for a number of reasons, in many places the ecological benefits of fire are outweighed by the potential environmental and economic costs, putting both communities and natural areas at risk.


A new initiative, Fire Adapted Communities, acts as an overarching framework that guides wildland-urban interface communities in addressing wildfire risks. Fire Adapted Communities’ approaches include wildfire education, planning, community partnership-building and hands-on activities designed to provide wildland-urban interface citizens with the necessary knowledge, tools and motivation to prepare their communities for inevitable wildfires. Post-fire recovery is also an area of emphasis. The more steps a community takes toward wildfire preparedness, the more fire-adapted it becomes.


The Fire Adapted Communities initiative takes advantage of well-established foundational tools including Community Wildfire Protection Plans, the Firewise Communities Program and the Ready, Set, Go! program. Communities can take a number of proactive steps to become fire-adapted, including: undertaking an assessment of risks in the surrounding environment; implementing planning policies, standards and regulations; providing outreach and marketing for wildfire preparedness; and collaborating to provide encouragement and assistance for neighborhoods and residents.