FRC remains committed to fostering connections that move the needle for individual and community wildfire recovery in our region. Our Zone Captains and our Loss & Recovery Project are here to stay! At the same time, our mission supports “community solutions for long-term recovery, resilience, and preparedness in the face of natural disasters.” Ready NOW addresses the second and third pillars of that mission.
Helping others prepare for disaster, and assisting communities to reduce their risk exposure, is central to our work. It has taken us a couple years to get to this point—our local recovery has been challenging for everybody—but we are ready and thrilled to take this next big step!
FRC is committed to creating resilient communities that are equipped to meet the challenges of a changing climate through the inclusion and amplification of affected voices. We work towards the development of sustainable neighborhoods by prioritizing projects through the lens of the individuals residing there. Our Ready NOW program uses the same community-based, “relationship first” approach as our Zone Captains program to deliver services. As always, we will listen first. And then we will act.
There is no single way to tackle community preparedness. We believe that any solution needs to be part of a multi-pronged, community-led approach that is responsive to local needs and desires. This can include resource navigation, neighbor-to-neighbor home risk assessments, support for more fire-adapted neighborhoods and Firewise Communities, and establishment of Community Liaison Programs to better coordinate incidents of wildfire between agencies and impacted communities. For rural watersheds facing extreme risk, resiliency can involve a restorative approach that includes fuels reduction projects and Prescribed or Cultural Fire. Of course, here at Firebrand we also love maps that visualize the work of our communities, so you can expect community mapping of resources and risks to be a big part of this new work!
As in our past work, FRC’s goal is building more connected communities at the neighborhood level—and holding relationships at the local and state levels—to bring forward solutions that better confront a changing climate. First and foremost, we want to prevent community loss. Ready NOW will take a “home outwards” approach to resilience in the Wildland Urban Interface (WUI), rather than a “forest inward” approach. We recognize that a number of amazing organizations are already operating in the space of forest resilience, and we are excited to work with an inspiring roster of new partners to help close the gap!
In early 2022, FRC convened a cohort of community partners—including fire professionals, WUI residents, fire scientists, elected officials, forest restoration experts, and emergency managers—to host a discussion about local preparedness needs, and how best to spread the knowledge of other Fire Adapted Communities (FAC). In working with that FAC cohort for more than a year, we identified a capacity gap: Someone is needed to hold neighborhood relationships over time, to steer residents towards available knowledge, resources, and funding opportunities when they arise. It sounded to us a lot like the Zone Captains program, put to a different purpose! Just like that program, our goal is to expand the definition of “local knowledge” to include residents, so that agencies can manage communities’ interactions with fire alongside local input. It is a natural place for FRC to work, and a capacity gap we can meet.
Through improved resident engagement, community organizing, and resource navigation tailored to the communities we serve, we are doing “new work in the same way” we always have: At the Speed of Relationships.
As part of the Ready NOW program, FRC is supporting a variety of tangible approaches to increase community wildfire preparedness, including:
Right now, we are piloting a program in the Anderson Creek Watershed, working with a community we know well that has recently undertaken a large community fuels reduction project. We are also working to establish Firewise Communities in manufactured housing parks now recovering from the Almeda Fire, promoting Home Hardening grants to help survivors “build back better”, and getting Jackson and Josephine County residents signed up for emergency Citizen Alerts.
It is our goal to bring the same programs that exist within high-resource communities like Ashland and Jacksonville into vulnerable communities with fewer resources. Our staff have been trained in Ashland’s Wildfire Risk Assessment Program (WRAP) to increase neighbor-to-neighbor mutual aid in reducing the risk of fire to our homes, with the express purpose of expanding the communities served by the WRAP. Community Liaisons Programs are also one way neighborhoods can self organize for more equitable outcomes.
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