What is the WUI?
While the WUI is a term commonly known in areas that experience wildfires, it may not be common to your fire department.
You may believe that you don’t have a WUI problem, and that WUI fires only occur in western states, but here are the facts:
More than 46 million residences in 70,000 communities in the United States are at risk for WUI fires.
The WUI area continues to grow by approximately two million acres per year.
States with the greatest number of houses in the WUI:
- 1. California
- 2. Texas
- 3. Florida
- 4. North Carolina
- 5. Pennsylvania
Number of houses in the WUI relative to the total houses in the state* (%)
*For states in the conterminous United States.
Source: U.S. Forest Service PDF 31 MB
As the WUI continues to grow, these fires will become an increasing problem for fire departments across the country.
In your area, you may have brush fires, grass fires, forest fires or outdoor fires. These fires can have the same impact when they occur close to homes, neighborhoods and communities. Communities need to understand the risks and make changes to their environments to make them less susceptible to fire.
What do communities need to know before a wildland fire?
Teach your community to create defensible space.
They need to keep the first five feet of their homes clear of any flammables such as woodpiles, wood mulch, dead vegetation, pine straw and manmade trash. Remind them to clean their gutters and underneath decks.
Talk to them about creating a family evacuation and communication plan.
Just like their home fire escape plan, they need to think about older adults, people with mobility and functional needs, their pets, and farm animals. Helping them to make plans before the fire will ease frustration and stress when they do need to execute their plans.
Messages to share
Post this card on your social channels and include your own content to reinforce the message.
Protect Your Home and Community from Wildfire PDF ~700 KB
This flyer provides tips to help homeowners prepare for the wildfire season. Customize this handout with your organization’s logo.
Trim branches that overhang your home, porch and deck. Keep plants, trees and branches at least 5 feet from your home.
Clear leaves and branches from roofs, gutters, porches and decks. Remove dead plants, leaves and branches at least 10 feet from your home.
What do communities need to do during a wildland fire?
Talk to your community about evacuation orders and instructions.
Let people know how important it is to be ready to leave when asked to.
Take time to explain how fire moves.
Wildfire can be unpredictable due to changing weather conditions, topography, and type and condition of local vegetation. Remind community members that if they smell smoke or feel afraid, to get out and don’t wait for an official evacuation notice.
Messages to share
This flyer provides tips for homeowners to follow when evacuating from a wildfire. Customize this handout with your organization’s logo.
What do communities need to do after a wildland fire?
After a fire, everyone is anxious to return to their homes and assess the damage. Talk to your communities about the importance of waiting to return until local officials have said it is safe.
There will be hot ash, charred trees, smoldering debris and live embers. The ground near their property may contain debris that is hot or smoldering and can burn them, their loved ones, pets and livestock. Water may not be safe to drink.
Messages to share
Post these cards to your social channels and include your own content to reinforce the messages.
Fire-adapted communities make the difference.
Teach your community that when each resident makes their home safer, the community as a whole is safer. Many communities have survived a wildfire event because of their efforts to prepare in advance, which also makes it safer for responding fire departments.
Encourage community members to:
Until the threat from COVID-19 passes, fire departments should encourage homeowners to work individually on improving home safety until it is safe to work together again on wildfire community projects. Projects to raise awareness PDF 2.3 MB about what wildfire is and what each home can do before, during and after a wildfire can be big or small, depending on the size of your community and its risks.