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The national database of state and local wildfire hazard mitigation programs
serves as a clearinghouse of information about nonfederal policies and
programs that seek to reduce the risk of loss of life and property through
the reduction of hazardous fuels on private lands.
Notice: this database, with the exception of the Biomass Utilization section, is not actively administered and has not been updated since 1/1/2010.
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Maine WUI program
Designation of high risk areas
An overview of the Maine Forest Service’s Wildland Urban Interface Program
Maine’s Wildland Urban Interface (WUI) committee was formed under the direction of Forest Protection Division Director Bill Williams in 2003. The committee’s first task was to develop a WUI program, an assessment strategy, and a WUI database. The committee met with Acadia National Park’s fire management team to view their WHAM (Wildland Hazard Assessment Methodology) software. This software was chosen as a basis for collecting and analyzing Maine’s data.
On average, Maine experiences over 700 wildfires annually. Over 1/3rd of the fires threaten structures. Not only is Maine the most heavily forested state in the Nation, but Maine’s coast has a unique environment with approximately 3,000 islands, many of which are inhabited. These communities face challenges in WUI that mainland communities do not such as extended response time, type of response vehicles, limited mutual aid, extensive fire hazards due to diseased coastal spruce, lack of fresh water for aircraft, seasonal fluctuation of populations, and island politics. In 2004, Peaks Island, located 1 mile off Portland, was chosen as the committee’s first assessment. The committee worked with numerous local groups and the fire department as well as the City of Portland which governs Peaks Island.
Upon completion of the Peaks Island assessment, the committee entered into a cooperative agreement with Maine Conservation Corps (MCC), under the AmeriCorps program to hire two project employees who completed 14 community assessments including both island and mainland communities. When the MCC contracts expired in 2006, it was decided that future assessments should be completed by Maine’s Forest Rangers and trained members of Maine’s Island Institute program, who are familiar with Maine’s Island Communities.
Risk Assessment and Mitigation Strategies Plans
Each Maine WUI Risk Assessment and Mitigation Strategies Plan includes generalized results with recommendations, 100-200 structural assessments, 25-50 vegetative plots, historical (1967-2007) fire starts (by cause) map, two risk assessment maps and a powerpoint presentation on a CD. The results of the assessments in the report have been used to assist communities with the development of their Community Wildfire Protection Plans. Once the report has been completed, a presentation is given to each community by the local District Forest Ranger.
Educational DVD and Firewise Program
As a means to educate and inform the public, the Maine Forest Service has completed a 15 minute educational DVD entitled, "Wildfire in Maine’s Wildland Urban Interface: How to reduce the risk of a wildfire near your home." The DVD offers suggestions on how homeowners can protect their homes from wildfire by clearing brush and creating a "defensible space," which could allow their home to survive a wildfire. It also features several segments where Maine’s Forest Rangers explain wildland urban interface issues specific to Maine. In addition, a Maine Fire Chief familiar with fire resistant building materials discusses ways to reduce the risk of wildfire near homes.
The Maine Forest Service also continues to inform its citizens of issues within the Wildland Urban Interface through advertising on TV and radio as well as newsprint. Generally, two statewide fire prevention media campaigns are conducted during the spring and fall. Each TV ad emphasizes firewise concepts and refers the viewers to the Maine Forest Service’s website, which has additional information on protecting homes in the WUI.
The Maine Forest Service also has been involved with Project Learning Tree and recently conducted a Fire Ecology workshop for several Island Community high school teachers. In the workshop, teachers were instructed how to analyze air photos of inhabited coastal islands for hazardous fuel buildup, fire access points and location of fresh water sources for wildfire suppression efforts. In addition, the Maine Forest Service continues to educate Maine’s firefighters at the annual Maine State Wildfire Training Academy. For several years, the academy has offered S-215, "Fires in the Wildland Urban Interface."
Fore more information, contact Kent Nelson, Fire Prevention Specialist at 207/287-4989 or by email at Kent.Nelson@maine.gov.
Maine Forest Service
Forest Protection Division, SHS 22
Augusta, Maine 04333