Fire Mitigation is land management through prescribed burning and other means of land management to reduce the fire risk to residential and commercial areas. Additionally, Emergency Services provides educational programs on how to make your house safe from a wild land fire.
Sarasota County as a FIREWISE Community
Following the devastating wild land fires and the loss of over 1,400 homes in California and Florida in 1985, the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) and the USDA Forest Service met to help define the phenomenon that has become known as the wild land/urban interface. A cooperative agreement was signed in 1986 to shape the national Wild Land Urban Interface Fire Protection Initiative. Part of the mission of this initiative was to sponsor the development and delivery of numerous conferences, workshops, publications, and videotapes to address specific audiences on protecting homes from wild land fires. Through the efforts of many, the FIREWISE concepts were developed based on the conviction that wisdom and knowledge are the prime forces that can help reduce the hazards in the interface.
The Sarasota County FIREWISE Coalition was officially formed on Aug. 22, 2001 in Sarasota County by Emergency Services. Sarasota County took a leadership role in coordinating and developing a strategic approach to land management and wild fire mitigation throughout Sarasota County. The members of the FIREWISE Coalition represent virtually every area of the community.
The objective of this Coalition was to frame out their overall objectives, and to determine where we should go as a community. The use of prescribed fire is considered an essential tool that has many benefits to a community. From a multi-disciplined perspective, prescribed fire is conducted to accomplish three major objectives:
Mitigate the fire threat within the urban interface
Mitigate the fire fuel within the wilderness area
Management and restoration of natural habitat
The Sarasota County FIREWISE Coalition is currently made up of approximately 50 members from all areas of the community. This group comes together on a monthly basis to identify and work cooperatively on the areas of the county where the highest risks of wild land fire may occur, and to continually educate the community in the benefits of being a FIREWISE community.
Sarasota County Emergency Services has a fire mitigation officer and environmental specialist on staff to oversee the prescribed burn program throughout the county. Their efforts have been successful in bringing Sarasota County closer to becoming a FIREWISE Community. The FIREWISE program has been enthusiastically embraced by this community.