Wildfire season is just around the corner. Last summer the Bolt Creek wildfire along the Stevens Pass Highway was just the latest in recent enhanced wildfire activity across the state in the past decade. Five out of the last six summers have included wildfire smoke that invaded the North Sound, souring air quality.
The Washington State Dept. of Natural Resources (DNR) is rolling out a program titled Wildfire Ready Neighbors. This program is focused on individual homeowners and what they can do to better prepare their homes and properties before the coming wildfire season and beyond.
Wildfire Ready Neighbors compliments the Firewise program by the National Fire Protection Association. Firewise is more community or neighborhood oriented while Wildfire Ready Neighbors emphasizes individual homeowners. Both program address efforts to enhance wildfire readiness.
The Washington State Legislature funded Wildfire Ready Neighbors as a part of DNR’s funding through 2027 and addresses the most vulnerable counties in Eastern Washington – Chelan, Okanogan, Yakima, Kittitas, Spokane and Klickitat. With the growing wildfire threat in Western Washington, the most recent Legislature added $450,000 dollars to initiate this program for three west-side counties – Pierce, Mason and Thurston.
At the local level, fire districts in all these counties work with individual homeowners who sign up and obtain a free Wildfire Ready Plan by scheduling a consultation from these local wildfire experts. That one-on-one consultation provides homeowners critical information so action can be taken to better protect their property from wildfire.
For all other counties in the state including the North Sound region of Snohomish, Skagit, and Island counties, homeowners can also sign up at Wildfire Ready Neighbors and learn more about what action they need to take before the wildfire season.
In addition, ahead of this summer, local fire districts are holding community meetings addressing what steps can be taken to better protect communities and homes from wildfires. For instance, recent meetings have been held in the Skykomish Valley by Sky Valley Fire. Another meeting is coming up in Arlington on May 9th to be hosted by North County Fire. This event will be held at the Arlington Airport Fire Station 48 starting at 6:30 PM. Further details will be posted on the North County Fire website and their social media soon. Everyone is encouraged to attend.
Wildfire Ready Neighbors, Firewise, and all local wildfire community readiness meetings are all focused on improving community preparedness, response, recovery, and resilience to wildfire health and safety impacts, including the wildfire urban interface that continues to grow. Now is the time to better prepare your home and property ahead of the coming wildfire season and beyond.