Wildland Fire Risk Reduction in Awendaw Fire Department by bio18652

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									                                                      Awendaw Fire Department   1

Running head: WILDLAND FIRE RISK REDUCTION




    WILDLAND FIRE RISK REDUCTION IN AWENDAW FIRE DEPARTMENT



                 LEADING COMMUNITY RISK REDUCTION


                      BY:   Robert M. Rakoske

                            Fire Chief

                            Awendaw Fire Department

                            Awendaw, South Carolina




                                January 2006
                                                                    Awendaw Fire Department          2


                               CERTIFICATION STATEMENT


I hereby certify that this paper constitutes my own product, that where the language of others is

set forth, quotation marks so indicate, and that appropriate credit is given where I have used the

language, ideas, expressions, or writings of another.



                              Signed:_________________________________
                                                                    Awendaw Fire Department         3


                                            ABSTRACT


       The problem is AFD Station # 2 has not determined what specific areas are at risk from

wildland/urban interface [WUI] fires, therefore placing the citizens and AFD at risk. The

National Fire Academy’s course, R- 280, Leading Community Risk Reduction [LCRR] caused

the author to examine the potential WUI fire threat within five road miles of AFD’s Station # 2.

The topic was selected because of urban sprawl and the controversy created by recent events that

bring to the forefront opportunities for large catastrophic losses from wildland fires. Much of the

developable land in question borders on the Francis Marion National Forest [FMNF] along with

larger tracks of unimproved private land.

       The descriptive research method was used to identify the areas at risk within five road

miles of AFD Station # 2. The hazard assessment survey will be used to determine the hazard

rating for the area identified. The research questions are; 1. What factors exist in the AFD Fire

Station # 2’s response area that makes structures at risk during wildland fires? 2. What areas in

the AFD Fire Station # 2’s response area are at risk from wildland fires? 3. What specific areas

in AFD Station # 2’s response area can be identified as low, medium, and high risk from

wildland fires? Answering these questions will identify the areas at risk from wildland fires and

become the basis to implement future risk reduction plans to involve the WUI property owners,

developers, and local government leaders. The assessment will help AFD determine high-risk

areas and to develop pre-incident response plans for those areas.
                                                     Awendaw Fire Department   4


                               TABLE OF CONTENTS
                                                            PAGE

Abstract ………………………………………………………………                           3

Table of Contents ……………………………………………………                      4

Introduction ………………………………………………………….                        5

Background and Significance ………………………………………..               6

Literature Review …………………………………………………….                     8

Procedures ……………………………………………………………                          12

Results ……………………………………………………………….                           15

Discussion ……………………………………………………………                          18

Recommendations ……………………………………………………                        20

Reference List ……………………………………………………….                       22



                                        Appendices

Appendix A: Map of Awendaw Fire Station # 2

Appendix B: Hazard Assessment Ratings

Appendix C: Outdoor Fire Responses 2003-2005

Appendix D: 2003-2005 Responses
                                                                   Awendaw Fire Department         5


                                        INTRODUCTION

       The Awendaw Special Tax district was established to provide fire protection services to

the unincorporated areas of northeastern Charleston County. Since that time, Awendaw Fire

Department [AFD] has expanded its service area toward the Charleston County line but at the

same time lost response area and revenues due to annexations by a neighboring municipality.

       The problem is AFD Station # 2 has not determined what specific areas are at risk from

wildland/urban interface [WUI] fires, therefore placing the citizens and AFD at risk. The

National Fire Academy’s course, R- 280, Leading Community Risk Reduction [LCRR] caused

the author to examine the potential WUI fire threat within five road miles of AFD’s Station # 2.

The topic was selected because of the controversy created by recent events that bring to the

forefront opportunities for large catastrophic losses from wildland fires. Much of the developable

land in question borders on the Francis Marion National Forest [FMNF] along with larger tracks

of unimproved private land. The unimproved land that borders the Town of Awendaw is under

pressure from urban sprawl and possible over development resulting from the expansion of

larger municipalities from the south.

       The descriptive research method was used to identify the areas at risk within five road

miles of AFD Station # 2. The author used the Wildland Fire Risk and Hazard Severity

Assessment Form found in NFPA 1144 to evaluate the various areas at risk from a wildland fire.

The hazard assessment form will be used to determine the hazard rating for the areas identified.

The research questions are; 1. What factors exist in the AFD Fire Station # 2’s response area that

makes structures at risk during wildland fires? 2. What areas in the AFD Fire Station # 2’s

response area are at risk from wildland fires? 3. What specific areas in AFD Station # 2’s

response area can be identified as low, medium, and high risk from wildland fires?
                                                                      Awendaw Fire Department        6

        Answering these questions will identify the areas at risk from wildland fires and become

the basis for future risk reduction plans involving the WUI property owners, developers,

communities, and local governments. The assessment will help AFD determine high-risk areas

and to develop pre-incident response plans for those areas. This project will help define the

various elements that increase the risks of wildland/urban interface fires. The project will

identify prescriptions to lessen the elements used to reduce the life safety issues and survivability

of structures in the WUI identified areas.

                             BACKGROUND AND SIGNFICANCE

        Since the inception of AFD, the department has been attempting to meet community

needs. However, no official risk analysis process has been performed to determine what the

specific hazards are within the AFD. The AFD is a relatively small suburban/rural fire

department that consist of eighteen full time employees, ten volunteers, and seven part-time

firefighters. The department staffs six fire stations and equipment consists of seven engines, one

quint, and five tankers. The staffing is based on a three-battalion shift schedule; all line staff

work a 24/48 shift. The Fire Chief administers the fire department, performs all administrative

tasks and develops operational procedures based on special tax district revenues collected. The

AFD staffing limitations has prompted this research to identify the risks factors involved and to

identify prevention measures to lessen the risks that could easily overwhelm the AFD’s

capabilities.

        The National Fire Academy’s [NFA] course, R- 280, Leading Community Risk

Reduction [LCRR] caused the author to examine the potential wildland fire threat within five

road miles of AFD’s Station # 2. The job aid developed for the LCRR (FEMA, 2004) assisted

the author in developing the necessary steps to perform the risk reduction analyses of the
                                                                    Awendaw Fire Department          7

wildland/urban interface fire threat in selected areas. Primarily Step 1 – Getting Ready and Step

2 – Assessing Community Risk were used. Additional work will be required to specifically

address issues identified in Steps 1 & 2 will complete the risk reduction process by developing a

mitigation package for the identified area.

       A portion of the Francis Marion National Forest [FMNF], approximately 80,000 acres is

located in Charleston County and it intermixes with various unimproved and improved

properties. Much of the unimproved land in question makes up parts of the FMNF along with

larger tracks of unimproved private land. The privately owned unimproved land is under pressure

from urban sprawl. Three different municipalities are circling to acquire the property that makes

up a portion of the FMNF. The municipalities are in conflict about whom and who should not

seek to control this potential tax base (development). Recently, eleven different municipalities

and service providers met to review a pact on how to protect this area from being over developed

and annexed into one of the municipalities.

       The current situation between the different local officials, developers, landowners, and

the FMNF officials is that no one is willing to discuss the impacts to the WUI and the potential

threats to the citizens that will move to this newly developed area. The issues for the AFD is that

without adequate WUI risk reduction measures the department may not be able to handle a large

wildland fire. Not being able to handle a large wildland fire, will put the public, homes, and the

firefighters in danger that respond. The existing built areas cause concern for AFD when a

wildland fire occurs, the homeowners are not aware of the risks involved to them and their home.

They are not aware of the elements that elevate their risk of loss from a wildfire and are unaware

of the safety issues when a wildfire is approaching. Many of the outdoor fires AFD has

responded to were determined to be started by carelessness or determined to be suspicious in
                                                                     Awendaw Fire Department          8

nature. These issues and attending the Leading Community Risk Reduction course has caused

the author to research the risks within AFD’s Station # 2 response area.

       The author will use the descriptive research method to look at trends and current

situations to help identify the wildfire risks in Station # 2 response area. The research data will

then be used to formulate a community risk reduction plan.

                                    LITERATURE REVIEW

       The literature review for the project used research from industry and non-industry

perspectives on the subjects of importance relating to wildfire risk assessment. Materials

reviewed were retrieved from the Learning Resource Center [LRC], Post & Courier Newspaper,

Internet sources, and from the author’s personal collection.

       The materials reviewed clearly documents that urban sprawl into the wildland/urban

interface or intermix can and has a devastating effect on communities and forest ecosystems.

Spitzer, (2005, p. 149) says the primary step in protecting the community or area from a wildfire

is to identify the risks. “Unless we learn to do things differently, homes will continue to be lost to

wild-fires” (Rogers 2005 p. 16). Many of the citizens, developers, and local officials, place cost

cutting activities over the added expenses of fire safety measures. Infrastructure requirements

are costly and many developers do not install them. Rural areas that are sparsely populated

cannot afford the luxury of a water supply system capable of the required fire flows. Access

driveways to the structures are usually designed for automobile type vehicles and are not

designed for large fire apparatus. The access roads are long and lack the required cul-de-sacs and

many of the access roads are not considered all-weather roads. The 2003 International Urban-

Wildland Interface Code [IU-WIC] suggests construction materials and methods to lessen the

structures probability of ignition. The IU-WIC (2003,) identifies defendable space requirements
                                                                      Awendaw Fire Department        9

around structures in the wildland/urban interface based on fuel types. “The wildfire season

generally runs from March to May with cold fronts and wind playing a factor, [Russell Hubright]

said. Last March, a fire burned about 373 acres in the Francis Marion National Forest in

Awendaw, shutting down U.S. Highway 17 for several hours” (Caston, 2005, p. B-8). Halstead

(2005, p. 95) points out that awareness and disregard for safety procedures during a wildfire has

resulted in repeated losses of homes in the WUI. “Local leadership is especially important; it is

often the key to coordinated wildland fire prevention and preparation strategies. Local education,

planning, and preventive action, based on national programs or policies, are keys to success in

wildfire mitigation efforts” (Halstead, 2005, p. 95). Many communities do not consider wildfires

a threat, that mentality places the community at risk because of the lack of ownership in the area

of wildland fire mitigation. USFA (2002,Vol. 2, Issue 16 ¶) says homeowners must accept a

large part of the responsibility and be knowledgeable of the risks involved when locating in the

WUI area. “Since 1970, more than 10,000 homes and 20,000 other structures and facilities have

been lost to severe wildland fire” (Bailey & Montague 2003, p.192). USFA (2002,Vol. 2, Issue

16 ¶) firefighting tactics differ from structural firefighting which is a direct fire attack method as

compared to wildland firefighting, which is more of an indirect method by separating the fuel.

“History shows that enactment of a fire protection measures in order to save lives and better

protect property are rarely accepted by the public until after the fact” (Wilkes, 1994 EFO

Abstract).

       “Observation provides some insight into a dangerous cycle that tends to reflect

       wildland/urban interface fires and the loss of interface homes. 1. The cycle begins with a

       home built in a wildland/urban interface area, often where wildland fire has occurred

       before and will again. 2. Wildland fire occurs. 3. In many cases, the home is destroyed.
                                                                     Awendaw Fire Department 10


       Through low cost loan programs and insurance, funds become available for homeowners

       to rebuild” (FireWise Communities Workbook, 2003, p. 9).

       Wood (1996) stated that the dilemma is that there are currently solutions to the problems

related to risk of wildfire in the wildland/urban interface that are not being addressed by local,

state and federal legislative leadership. “Fire is a natural and ecological process that’s been

around about four hundred and twenty-five million years,” “Stowe says.” (Lucas, 2006, p.15)

“Lucas (2006, p.15) wrote that prescribed fire is the most economical and ecologically suited

practice in South Carolina to keep the wildland areas safe from wildfires and enhance the health

and integrity of the state’s natural resources, according to Stowe”. Rapid extinguishment of

small wildland fires allows for fuel build up, that ultimately leads up to heavy fuel loading,

which increases the intensity of the fire and increases the chance of igniting structures in close

proximity of the wildfire. Halstead (2005, p. 94) concluded that if fire is with held from a forest

area then fuel begins to build up creating a hazard to the forest and any nearby homes. Bartelme

(2005,¶) “ Sutton said” “ more homes and cars will make it more difficult to do controlled burns,

hampering efforts to restore longleaf forest and other habitats that depend on regular and

frequent fires. “ And prescribed burns are our number one ally in preventing a catastrophic

wildfire.”” “In the aftermath of a wildland fire, forest health suffers. Although fires occur

naturally, many western ecosystems did not evolve with the fire intensity recently experienced”

(Summerfelt, 2003, p.6).

       The author used the wildland fire and hazard severity assessment form found in the

(National Fire Protection Association [NFPA] 1144, 2002 edition, A.4.2) to evaluate the project

area. The information will be used to develop strategies to lessen the existing hazards. The

uncontrollable factors that must be understood by all responsible parties is that the weather plays
                                                                      Awendaw Fire Department 11


a major role in wildland fires. The other fact that is hard to understand is large wildfires can

make their own wind due to the amount of fuel being consumed, when a wildland fire is burning

at that rate the wildfire is uncontrollable until, the wildfire consumes all available fuel or the

weather conditions change. “When weather is severe (i.e., low humidity, high winds, and high

temperatures), the fuels are dry and impacted by drought combined with overstocked timber

stands, and the understory vegetation is dense, all ingredients for catastrophic wildfire are

present” (Spitzer, 2005, p. 139). Brown (1994, p. 5) states that WUI fires account for the largest

fire losses in America, but land use standards, codes, and laws to regulate the WUI are resisted

for formal adoption. The author used information obtained from Mr. Bill Twomey (Rakoske,

personal communication) from the Witherbee Ranger District, concerning the different fuel types

located within the FMNF. The information was used to help establish the fuel type classifications

for the various geographical areas identified (see appendix A). The author used the Charleston

County GIS department to develop a map identifying the various properties and the FMNF

boundary (see appendix A). The map was divided into areas for evaluation purposes based on the

structure counts. “A dichotomy exists in dealing with WUI fires. On the one hand,

environmentalist and foresters believe that a natural fire (or even a prescribed burn) is healthy for

our forest. On the other hand, homeowners in these areas expect fire protection of their

structures” (USFA, 2002,Vol. 2, Issue 16 ¶).

       All literature reviewed demonstrates that land use planning, building codes, and

homeowners accepting responsibility for reducing the risks to their property will enhance their

homes survivability when a wild fire occurs. It is also clear that community leaders, local

officials, planners, developers, forest management officials should come together to solve the

many complex issues in the wildland/urban interface. All the parties must realize that protection
                                                                    Awendaw Fire Department 12


of the community and protection of the wildland must coexist without disrupting either complex

system.

                                         PROCEDURES

        Definition of Terms

        Defensible Space. An area as defined by the AJHA [typically a width of 9.14 m. (30 ft)

or more] between improved property and a potential wildland fire where combustible materials

and vegetation have been removed or modified to reduce the potential for fire on improved

property spreading to wildland fuels or to provide a safe working areas for firefighters protecting

life and property from wildland fire (NFPA 1144, 2002, 3.3).

        Fire Hazard. A fuel complex, defined by kind, arrangement, volume, condition, and

location, that determines the ease of ignition and/or resistance to fire control (NFPA 1144, 2002,

3.3).

        Fuel Modification. Any manipulation or removal of fuels to reduce the likelihood of

ignition or the resistance to fire control (NFPA 1144, 2002, 3.3)

        Fuels. All combustible materials within the wildland/urban interface or intermix,

including but not limited to vegetation and structures (NFPA 1144, 2002, 3.3).

        Ground Fuels. All combustible materials such as grass, duff, loose surface litter, tree or

shrub roots, rotting wood, leaves, peat, or sawdust that typically support combustion (NFPA

1144, 2002, 3.3).

        Improved Property. A piece of land or real estate upon which a structure has been placed,

a marketable crop is growing (including timber), or other property improvement has been made

(NFPA 1144, 2002, 3.3).

        Wildland fire. An unplanned and uncontrolled fire spreading through vegetative fuels, at
                                                                    Awendaw Fire Department 13


times involving structures (NFPA 1144, 2002, 3.3).

        Wildland/Urban Interface. An area where improved property and wildland fuels meet at a

well-defined boundary (NFPA 1144, 2002, 3.3).

        Wildland/Urban Intermix. An area where improved property and wildland fuels meet

with no clearly defined boundary (NFPA 1144, 2002, 3.3).

        Three types of interface.

                The Classic interface occurs when city boundaries and suburbs press against

wildland vegetation as in the subdivision on the outskirts of town (Southern group of state

foresters, 1998, p. 5).

                The Mixed interface is where homes and other structures are intermixed with

wildland vegetation similar to the conifer forests growing throughout mountain communities

(Southern group of state foresters, 1998, p. 5).

                The Occluded interface is when islands of wildland vegetation occur inside a

metropolitan area like undeveloped pockets of wildland preserved within a large developed

urban area. (Southern group of state foresters, 1998, p. 5).

        Limitations

        This research project was limited to a five-mile response radius from Awendaw Fire

Department Station # 2. (see appendix A) Secondly, this research was limited to the populated

areas within Station #2’s response district and therefore does not reflect the risk assessment for

the entire AFD response district.

        The fuel models used were selected based on correspondence with Mr. Twomey, from

the US Forest Service (Rakoske, personal communication). The author also used the assessment

sheet from NFPA 1144 to develop the overall hazard rating for the ten identified areas. The
                                                                     Awendaw Fire Department 14


author surveyed each area and determined the total hazard assessment rating for each identified

area.

        Research Methodology

        This author chose to research what specific areas are at risk from wildland fires. The

problem is Awendaw Fire District (AFD) Station # 2 has not determined what specific areas are

at risk from wildland fires, therefore placing the citizens and AFD at risk from a wildland/urban

interface fire. A review of past incident reports were used to assist in identifying areas that were

at an increased risk of wildland fires based on past response history. Descriptive research was

used, the literature reviewed and the incident data studied will answer the following research

questions. 1) What factors exist in the AFD Station # 2's response area that makes structures at

risk during wildland interface fires? 2) What areas in AFD Station # 2's response area are at risk

from wildland fires? 3) What specific areas in AFD Station # 2's response area can be identified

as low, medium, and high risk from wildfires?

        The author conducted a hazard assessment survey in Station # 2’s response area. The

author used the wildland fire and hazard severity assessment form found in the (National Fire

Protection Association [NFPA] 1144, 2002 edition, A.4.2) to evaluate the project area. The data

was recorded for each area. The average assessment score was determined to equal a high hazard

rating which is unacceptable for the southeast region (see appendix B). These research questions,

literature reviews, area surveys will assist in identifying, target hazard areas, specific element

hazards, and possible hazard reduction programs for the areas identified as having hazard

assessment ratings from medium to high.

        The incident response data for 2003, 2004, and 2005 were obtained and reviewed. The

yearly data was compiled into a spreadsheet format. The author used the computer software
                                                                     Awendaw Fire Department 15


program EXCEL to develop spreadsheets and charts identifying the frequency and the peak fire

season months for outdoor fires. (see appendix C & D). The data generated will help the author

answer the research questions. The data consisted of the number of incident reports from January

1, 2002 through December 31, 2005 and included the entire AFD district.(see appendixes D)

This data identified the number of outdoor fires and the peak season for concern.

         During the literature review, the author found that planning and land owner

responsibilities are the key in the mitigation process for preventing additional and repeated losses

from a wildland fire. The landowner must take the responsibility to reduce the factors that affect

each property, such as creating a defensible space, fuel modification, access, and control of open

fires.

                                             RESULTS

         The descriptive research method identified the specific residential areas within five road

miles of AFD Station # 2 that are at risk from a wildland fire. The research questions to

answered are: 1) What factors exist in the AFD Fire Station # 2’s response area that makes

structures at risk during wildfires? Research discovered that many of the areas surveyed have the

same elements in common that cause higher hazard assessment ratings. The eight elements that

used in the wildland fire risk and hazard severity assessment form (NFPA 1144, 2002, A.4.2)

are: 1. Means of Access, 2. Vegetation (Fuel Models), 3. Topography within (300 ft.) of the

structures, 4. Additional Rating Factors such as: areas with a history of higher fire occurrence

and areas that are exposed to usually severe fire weather, 5. Roofing Assembly, 6. Building

construction, 7. Available Fire Protection, and 8. Placement of Gas and Electric Utilities. Of the

eight elements evaluated on the assessment form, six elements were discovered to be repeated

high risk offenders; access, vegetation/separation distances, high occurrence, weather, building
                                                                      Awendaw Fire Department 16


construction, and utilities (see appendix B).

       2) What areas in the AFD Fire Station 2’s response area are at risk from wildland fires?

The areas identified were determined from the area map (See appendix A) and based on the total

building counts. (see appendix B) The areas were clustered in a general geographical area.

During the risk assessment, a running count of buildings was kept for each area as were the

assessment ratings. While evaluating the areas, it was noticed that the apparent property values

did not have a lower risk then a lower valued property.

       3) What specific areas in AFD Station #2’s response area can be identified as low,

medium, and high risk from wildland interface fires? Of the ten areas identified the ratings scores

were moderate to high (see appendix B). The overall rating for AFD Station #2’s response area

was high. The total average score was 79.55. Based on the hazard assessment score, this numeral

rating relates to a high hazard assessment. A high rating is unacceptable in the southeast.

       Early settlers primarily established the areas evaluated, which directly relates to the high

scores on the assessment form. Access roads into theses areas and driveways have characteristics

that limit access by fire apparatus and limit escape route options to the residents in that area.

Many of the areas evaluated have dead end roads and few cul-de-sacs. Dead end roads can be cut

off by a wildfire and trap any number of citizens or firefighters in that area. In addition to the

dead end roads many of the area driveways are long and narrow, unpaved, and many of them do

not have any turnarounds. Many of the dwellings do not have proper addresses posted, which

would facilitate locating an obscured dwelling. During the survey, the author noticed that proper

addressing of homes does not meet county regulations. Poor address visibility creates additional

problems in itself. The primary problem is longer response times to other types of emergency

incidents valuable time is spent looking for the proper location.
                                                                      Awendaw Fire Department 17


        Vegetation (fuel models) and location of structures too close to the fuel elevated the

hazard ratings in the areas assessed. Many of the structures are in close proximity to the WUI

and many of the structures have continuous fuel supplies that lead up to the structure. Many of

the areas surveyed are located adjacent to the FMNF and therefore these areas are subject to

heavy fuel loading. The fuel has been allowed to build up over the years due to liability issues

concerning prescribed fires by the US Forest Service.

        Additional factors, such as a history of fire occurrence, arson, and weather conditions

added to the over all high score on the assessment form.

        Building construction characteristics also contributed to the elevated scores on the

assessment form. Many of the residential structures are constructed of flammable materials; most

of the older structures lack the necessary measures to lessen the chance of an ember making its

way in to attics and cracks and crevices in the structures. Additionally, many of the existing

structures lack the double-pane windows that help protect the structures during a wildland/urban

interface fire.

        Available fire protection had some effect on the hazard assessment score. The water

source availability was the leading source for the high rating. The areas surveyed do not have

any pressurized waters sources, several of the areas do have dry hydrants installed and they meet

the minimum required flows. The areas surveyed were within five road miles of the fire station.

No, known dwellings have any type of fixed fire protection systems, which contributes to the

high rating.

        Utilities contributes to the high assessment score since most of the electric utilities are

aboveground, and the majority of the gas utilities are above ground propane tanks.
                                                                     Awendaw Fire Department 18


                                          DISCUSSION

       The author discovered that the balance between development and the wildland/urban

interface complement each other. Human need for housing and the forest ecological needs must

go hand in hand. Community development will certainly continue, well thought out land use

planning and building codes must be considered when improving unimproved land. In addition,

all responsible parties must have an understanding of the forest needs such as prescribed fire.

       “Observation provides some insight into a dangerous cycle that tends to reflect

       wildland/urban interface fires and the loss of interface homes. 1. The cycle begins with a

       home built in a wildland/urban interface area, often where wildland fire has occurred

       before and will again. 2. Wildland fire occurs. 3. In many cases, the home is destroyed.

       Through low cost loan programs and insurance, funds become available for homeowners

       to rebuild” (FireWise Communities Workbook, 2003, p. 9).

       Everyone must understand that fire was a natural event that occurred and shaped the land

before civilization came about and changed the natural event. Many of the older residents

understand the need to perform prescribe fires. Where many of the new comers to the area are

not aware of the need and complain about the smell of smoke from these fires. “A dichotomy

exists in dealing with WUI fires. On the one hand, environmentalist and foresters believe that a

natural fire (or even a prescribed burn) is healthy for our forest. On the other hand, homeowners

in these areas expect fire protection of their structures” (USFA, 2002,Vol. 2, Issue 16 ¶).

Conversely, the US Forest Service is not likely to perform control burns near any developed land

for fear of liability issues if fire was to escape and cause property damage. This in itself causes

the threat assessment to increase because over time the fines fuels, understory vegetation grows

and creates ladder fuels which may cause a crown fire if the weather conditions are right. Crown
                                                                      Awendaw Fire Department 19


fires are fast moving fires that would be unstoppable by the AFD and many of the agencies

responsible for wild fire suppression. Halstead (2005, p. 94) concluded that if fire is with held

from a forest area then fuel begins to build up creating a hazard to the forest and any nearby

homes.

         The author discovered that there is sufficient programs and reference literature to

implement and assess wildfire hazards in any fire department. “Leading Community Risk

Reduction Job Aid” (NFA, 2004) was used to establish the basic building blocks for the risk

reduction process. Much of the material researched demonstrated that a hazard risk assessment

must be performed for every risk perceived or identified in your jurisdiction. Leading

Community Risk Reduction Job Aid (NFA, 2004) clearly identifies the necessary steps in

developing a risk reduction plan. The process of the wildland/urban interface hazard assessment

brought to the attention the need for balance between growth and the need for fire to maintain the

forest habitat. It is known by the longtime residents in this area that fire is a necessity and is an

annual occurrence. Halstead (2005, p. 94) concluded that if fire is with held from a forest area

then fuel begins to build up creating a hazard to the forest and any nearby homes. Fire for fuel

treatments is a necessity for healthy forest however, the US Forest Service is not likely to

perform the fuel treatments near improved areas of the WUI. Wood (1996) stated that the

dilemma is that there are currently solutions to the problems related to risk of wildfire in the

wildland/urban interface that are not being addressed by local, state and federal legislative

leadership. Many of the citizens that move into the wildland/urban interface areas are not

accustomed to the rural nature such as the levels of public service infrastructure and customary

annual occurrences such as controlled fires and the application of crop enhancement treatments

and the various odors that come with that. “When they move, the new residents bring with them
                                                                     Awendaw Fire Department 20


expectations of receiving the same level of public services they had in the city. They may also

bring misconceptions and a lack of understanding about the forest resource they are moving into.

These two perceptions can lead to problems for the natural resource manager. As people with

little or no exposure to resource management move into forested areas, conflicts arise over the

use of traditional forestry techniques such as prescribed burning and timber harvesting.”

(Southern Group of State Foresters, 1998, p.6) The factor that many do not understand is that

inhabiting fire from the forest and allowing fuels to build can cause high intensity fire that can

actually destroy mature forest stands. “In the aftermath of a wildland fire, forest health suffers.

Although fires occur naturally, many western ecosystems did not evolve with the fire intensity

recently experienced” (Summerfelt, 2003, p.6).

         “Interface Fire Protection Program identified four common components of interface fires:

(1) Low relative humidity, high temperatures, and high winds often are in place before a fire

starts. (2) Human activity such as arson, debris burning, or downed electrical wires case many

interface fires. (3) Many destroyed homes were constructed with combustible material or have

especially vulnerable features such as wood shingle roofs. (4) Considerable combustible

materials surround the home, such as woodpiles and fences” (Topical Fire Research Series, 2002.

p. 2).

                                     RECOMMENDATIONS

         The data discovered during this research project clearly identifies an excessive risk to the

community from a wildfire. The results and information acquired from the wildland fire and

hazard severity assessment form identifies areas that can be improved to lower the risk to the

identified areas. The research project identified areas in which prescriptions could be presented

to the specific homeowners to lower the risk rating for that area or specific property. With the
                                                                    Awendaw Fire Department 21


data gathered on specific areas, it is recommended that the AFD implement a program to present

to the citizens and local officials on the issues facing the WUI. The program will bring together

the responsible individuals that can make the necessary changes in the land use plans and

building code requirements, which will lessen the risk of moving into the WUI. Implementing

the codes and standards will bring to the attention of the developers and potential homeowners

that there are potential hazards living in the WUI. Many of the country’s officials are unaware of

the concerns in the WUI. This one regulatory step will reduce the risks from a wildland fire and

enhance the structures chance of survival when a wildland fire occurs. However, the regulations

will not benefit the existing areas identified. The second part of the program will address the

existing structures and advise the homeowner of the needed fuel modifications and structural

improvements needed to lessen the hazard score for that structure. The risk reduction process

will be an ongoing process that will require commitments of time and resources to bring the

homeowners and local officials together to implement the necessary risk reduction measures.
                                                                   Awendaw Fire Department 22


                                      REFERENCE LIST

Bailey, D.W. & Montague, R.E. (2003). Wildland fire management. In A.E. Cote, (Ed).

       Organizing for Fire and Rescue Services. (p. 192). Quincy, MA: National Fire Protection

       Association.

Bartelme, T. (2005, December 01), Francis Marion pact unveiled. Post & Courier. Retrieved

       December 01, 2005, from

       http://wwwcharleston.net/stories/?newsID=55111&section=localnews

Brown, K. (1994). Structure triage during wildland/urban interface/intermix fires. Emmitsburg,

       MD: National Fire Academy, Executive Fire Officer Program.

Caston, P. (January 20,2005). Your Lowcountry. The Post & Courier, p. B-8.

Summerfelt, P. (2003). Wildland/urban interface: what’s really at risk?, Fire management today,

       Volume 63. No1. 2003 Retrieved November 10, 2005, from

       http://www.fs.fed.us/fire/fire_new/fmt

Firewise Communities. (2003) Participant Workbook. Fire wise communities workshop. (p. 9).

       Quincy, MA: Author

Halstead, D. (2005) Agencies and programs with wildfire responsibilities. In J.C. Smalley.

       (Ed). Protecting life and property from wildfire. (p. 95). Quincy, MA: National Fire

       Protection Association.

International Code Council. (2003). 2003 International Urban-Wildland Interface Code.

       Country Club Hills, IL: Author

Lucas, G. (2006). Friends of the flame. South Carolina Wildlife, Vol. 53, No. 1, p. 15.

National Fire Academy. (2004). Leading Community Risk Reduction – Job Aid. Emmitsburg,

       MD: Author
                                                                   Awendaw Fire Department 23


National Fire Protection Association. (2002). Standard for fire protection of life and property

       from wildfire (NFPA 1144). Quincy, MA: Author.

Rogers, M.J. (2005). Introduction to the wildland/urban interface. In J.C. Smalley. (Ed).

       Protecting life and property from wildfire. (p. 16). Quincy, MA: National Fire Protection

       Association.

Southern Group of State Foresters (1998). When the forest becomes a community. Foresters

       handbook for the forest/urban interface. Retrieved September 14, 2005, from

       http://www.firewise.org/pubs/wnn/vol12/no4/pdf/SoForesthndbk.pdf (p.5)

Spitzer, H.A. (2005). Assessing fire hazard and risk in wildland/urban interface communities. In

       J.C. Smalley. (Ed). Protecting life and property from wildfire. (pp. 139, 149). Quincy,

       MA: National Fire Protection Association.

U.S. Fire Administration, (2002). Fires in the wildland/urban interface. Topical fire research

       series Vol. 2, Issue 16. Retrieved September 14, 2005, from

       http://usfa.fema.gov/downloads/pdf/tfrs/v2i16.pdf

Wilkes, W.C. (1994). Hazard mitigation within the intermix: closing the learning gap (Applied

       Research Project). Emmitsburg, MD: National Fire Academy, Executive Fire Officer

       Program.

Wood, L. (1996). Pre-incident planning for Florida firefighters in the wildland/urban interface

       (Applied Research Project). Emmitsburg, MD: National Fire Academy, Executive Fire

       Officer Program.
             Awendaw Fire Department 24


Appendix A
                                                             Awendaw Fire Department 25


                                        Appendix B



Hazard Assessment Rating
Areas               # Structures   Hazard Rating             Low    High   Average
Area 1                   153       moderate to high           41    112     76.5
Area 2                    78       light to extremely high    40    113     76.5
Area 3                    17       High                       70    112      91
Area 4                    85       moderate to high           41    112     76.5
Area 5                    68       moderate to high           41    112     76.5
                                   moderate to extremely
Area 6                   79        high                      41     113      77
Area 7                   52        light to extremely high   40     113     76.5
                                   moderate to extremely
Area 8                   87        high                      41     113      77
Area 9                   39        moderate to high          41     112     76.5
Area 10                 115        high to extremely high    70     113     91.5
Total Structures        773        Average of all Ratings                   79.55
                                                                           Awendaw Fire Department 26


                                                 Appendix C

Outdoor Fire Responses 2003-2005
Incident type 141 Brush & Grass    Jan     Feb   Mar   April   May   Jun   Jul   Aug   Sept   Oct   Nov   Dec
                              2003          1     1                                                             2
                              2004  4       4    14     5       1                                          3    31
                              2005          7     2     2            2     1                  10                24    57
Incident type 142 Brush & Grass
                              2003   4      3                   1          1            1     1                 11
                              2004   3      2     3     1                  1                  1      1     2    14
                              2005   4      6     4     1       1    1                  1                       18    43
Incident type 143
                              2003          3                        1                                     2    6
                              2004   2      1     3     2            1            1                             10
                              2005          2           2       2                                               6     22
Incident type 140
                              2003                                                                              0
                              2004                                                                              0
                              2005   2                                     1                                    3     3
incident type 632
                              2003                              1                                          1    2
                              2004                      1                                                  2    3
                              2005                                                                              0     5
incident type 631
                              2003          1     2     3            3     1                  3                 13
                              2004   1      1     3     3       2                 1     1                  1    13
                              2005          1     6     3       1    1     1            1                  4    18    44
incident type 150
                              2003                              2    1                                     1    4
                              2004   5            3     2       2    1     1      1     2     0      1     2    20
                              2005                                                                         0    0     24
incident type 151
                              2003   1                          3    1            1           1            1    8
                              2004   2            4     2                               1                  2    11
                              2005                3     1                                                  1    5     24
incident type 170
                              2003                                                                               0
                              2004   1                                                                           1
                              2005         1                                                                     1    2
                                     29    33    48     28     16    12    7      4     7     16     2    22    224

                                     Jan   Feb   Mar   April   May   Jun   Jul   Aug   Sept   Oct   Nov   Dec
2003 total responses per month        5     8     3     3       7     6     2     1     1      5     0     5    46
2004 total responses per month        18    8    30     16      5     2     2     3     4      1     2    12    103
2005 total responses per month        6     17   15     9       4     4     3     0     2     10     0     5    75

Total Responses per year
                              2003   46
                              2004   103
                              2005   75
                                                                           Awendaw Fire Department 27


                                     Appendix D

                                     2003-2005 Responses

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     Jan   Feb   Mar   April   May         Jun          Jul          Aug      Sept   Oct   Nov   Dec


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