Project Wildfire: A community approach to surviving wildfires

From the CDC’s Public Health Matters blog:

Project Wildfire in Deschutes County, Oregon has been recognized by CDC’s Office of Public Health Preparedness and Response’s (OPHPR) Learning Office and the CDC Foundation as a community effort that reflects and embodies FEMA’s Whole Community approach to emergency management.

Although central Oregon experiences other natural and man-made disasters, wildfires are by far the biggest threat here, especially during the summer months.  In an average year, we experience 450 fires that burn 50,000 acres and homes, threaten lives and impact the economy.  Following two devastating wildfires that burned in Bend, Oregon in 1990 and again in 1996, the Fire Chief of Deschutes County, Oregon, Gary Marshall, received a phone call from Safeco Insurance offering to contribute to the purchase of new firefighting equipment. Marshall politely declined Safeco’s offer because he had a more effective, long-term solution in mind that involved educating the public about the risks of wildfires.

Marshall asked Safeco Insurance if they would invest in an education program designed to teach people to help themselves prepare for wildfires. “A new piece of equipment might save one more home,” Marshall said. “But to really save homes, individuals have to take responsibility for their property before a fire.” His ultimate aim: To change the values and behaviors of citizens for generations to come.

Safeco agreed and FireFree was born.

Read the complete blog post on the CDC’s web site.

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