Contents of a Community Wildfire Protection Plan (CWPP)

A CWPP helps protect communities from loss caused by wildfire. This article is part two of a two part series. In this article, we will address the contents that go into a CWPP.

Developing a strong Community Wildfire Protection Plan (CWPP) that adequately addresses the needs of your community to protect people and property from wildfire requires strong collaboration from various agencies and individuals with diverse areas of expertise. The process of developing a CWPP is very similar to that of developing a community master plan. It involves gathering and analyzing relevant data, identifying and prioritizing areas of concern, and establishing a plan of action.

The following recommended structure of a CWPP outlines key contents every plan should address (use this CWPP sample for reference):

Introduction

  • Roles & actions for the development & implementation of the CWPP
  • Fire policies & programs (state & federal fire plans, FEMA, Fuels Reduction Act, etc.)

The Planning Process

  • Establish and engage a planning team (local, state, federal)
  • Develop a base map (wildland/urban interface (WUI) zones) & community risk assessments (fuel hazards, risk of wildfire occurrence, critical at-risk infrastructure, etc.)
  • Establish priorities & recommendations for hazard reduction
  • Develop action plan & assessment strategy
  • Plan finalization

Community Profile

  • Historical overview
  • Geography & climate
  • Geographic & land use patterns
  • Transportation network
  • Population characteristics
  • Economic characteristics

Community Wildfire Background & History

  • Historical fire occurrence & community impact
  • Generally expected wildfire behavior
  • Historical wildfire occurrences

Wildland Urban Interface (WUI) Boundaries & Descriptions of WUI Areas

  • WUI areas & map
  • Fire department districts service area map
  • Targeted area descriptions (sub-area WUI map, sub-area profile with critical emergency management information)

Wildfire Risk Assessment

  • Risk Assessment & Mitigation Strategies (RAMS)
  • Community assessment ranking (Fuels hazard with fuels map, protection capabilities, ignition risk, fire history, values, catastrophic fire potential, composite community assessment rating)

Emergency Operations

  • Incident command (national incident management system, unified command, incident management teams)
  • Emergency operations center (multi-agency coordination, mutual aid & resource management, etc.)
  • Emergency plans (action guidelines, state management support, evacuation, etc.)

Mitigation Action Plan

  • Alternative measures (preventative & corrective)
  • Hazard mitigation actions & management objectives

While the time and effort to successfully undertake and complete a CWPP are substantial, the value of an effective plan cannot be understated. A properly written and implemented CWPP can protect life and property in the event of a wildfire. In Michigan, wildfires are a matter of when, not if. The time to plan is now, not after a wildfire has occurred. Additional materials, toolkits and resources to assist communities developing and writing a CWPP can be found at the Firewise Communities Program and at Firewise Program from Michigan State University Extension.

Other articles in this series:

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