There’s a new kid in town in the world of wildfire, known by the name of the Washington State Fire Adapted Communities Learning Network (WAFAC).
This collaborative state network was established in late 2014 with funding from the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and loosely modeled after a national network with similar goals. WAFAC has spent a little over a year developing their identity and establishing a presence within Washington. The network currently consists of a staff team, a steering committee of wildfire and natural hazard mitigation professionals, and 6 pilot community participants. The goal of this network is to facilitate long-term learning and sharing of resources in order to elevate the collective ability to adapt communities’ relationships to the complex fire issues we face in our state. It provides a means to invest resources in these pilot communities around Washington that are working to create fire adapted communities, helping them increase their local capacity.
By definition, a fire adapted community is a community that is working to prepare for, respond to, and recover from wildfire. It incorporates people, buildings, businesses, infrastructure, cultural resources, and natural areas into the preparedness effort.
The goals for Washington include:
• Cohesion - Support the integration of the National Cohesive Wildland Fire Strategy’s three goals: resilient landscapes, fire adapted communities, and efficient response to wildfire.
• Acceleration - Accelerate the adoption, innovation, and diffusion of best practices associated with Fire Adapted Communities programs and strategies across communities and geographies.
• Adaptation - Foster a strong and resilient Washington whose residents understand their role (and the role of fire) in a fire-adapted landscape.
• Connection - Create a strong network structure that connects local Fire Adapted Communities with Fire Adapted Communities around the state and nation.
• Learning - Provide Washington Fire Adapted Communities Learning Network members the space and support to grow and learn.
The WAFAC has developed a diagram that illustrates the cyclical effort of continuing to learn, adapt, and improve in all aspects of living with wildfire.
Staying connected through webinars, blogs, phone calls, in-person meetings, an online workspace, and training exchanges is a key strategy of the network in order to learn, adapt, and share.
For more information about this active and growing learning network including a map of the current pilot communities, visit the website at www.fireadaptedwashington.org.
For more about the National Fire Adapted Communities Network including maps and information about pilot communities around the nation that are leading the charge on working together to create a more wildfire resilient-future, visit www.fireadaptednetwork.org.