Is reducing wildfire risk just about the homes in a community, or is it more? Are businesses, schools, hospitals, cell towers and water distribution centers immune from the impacts of wildfire?
When assessing a community’s assets at risk, you should include public buildings, multiple dwelling units like apartment buildings, and businesses and their owners and managers in the creation of the community’s risk assessment and Community Wildfire Protection Plan.
Public buildings and infrastructure are vulnerable
Past fires demonstrate the vulnerability of public buildings and infrastructure. Consider, for example:
- News stories about the harrowing evacuation of the Adventist Health Feather River Hospital, which was destroyed by the Camp Fire in 2018.
- The destruction of the Anova Center for Education, a school for autistic children in Sonoma, California.
- How cell phones did not work during the Camp Fire. The loss of cell towers contributed to poor communication during this wildfire.
These examples highlight the need to include public buildings and infrastructure in all wildfire safety planning.
Pre-fire planning tips to make your community more fire adapted
Important wildfire safety plan components
- Reducing the ignition potential of buildings.
- Ensuring that cell towers and water distribution centers have alternate power-supplied generators in the event of a power outage due to a wildfire or other disaster.
- Evaluating evacuation routes to see if there is more than one way out of a community and the condition of the exit routes is good.
- Looking at the conditions of the landscape within and surrounding the community.
Be inclusive when pre-fire planning to help ensure that the whole community’s resilience is considered. Inclusivity can also increase the resources and partners in your risk reduction plan.