Although headline news stories tend to feature wildfire threatening homes in California, Colorado, or other places in the western US, the wildland-urban interface problem they describe is not exclusively a western phenomenon. The wildland-urban interface is the area where homes and wildland meet.
Fire has always been a historical feature of the landscape in South Carolina. The South Carolina Forestry Commission fights an average of 3,000 wildfires a year — many more than most western states. Approximately 98% of all wildfire causes in South Carolina are human-related. In 2009, South Carolina lost 76 homes with 97 others damaged in one major wildfire that cover over 19,000 acres. This fire was in an area where new residents not familiar with wildfire have been moving into an area where several large fires have occurred. We often have individual homes lost in the wildland-urban interface. Wildfires in developed areas are tough to control, partly due to access and other issues. As development increases, lives and property are threatened as never before.
The Forestry Commission uses the Firewise Program to educate communities and homeowners in high risk areas on ways they can take ownership of protecting their homes from damage or destruction from potential wildfire. Firewise personnel conduct wildfire risk assessments that can be used to write action plans for communities. During workshops to communities and homeowners groups the Commission presents the scope of the issue and recommends simple steps homeowners can take to mitigate the risk to their homes.
Your Home in the Line of FIRE! - Precautions you can take to protect your home.
FIREWISE Checklist for Your Home (pdf) A Checklist to Protect Your Home.
FIREWISE Plant List (pdf)- Landscaping for your home.
Develop a Community Wildfire Protection Plan - View a sample plan. (pdf)
Grant Application for WUI Fuels Mitigation Projects – for use by Firewise Communities to apply for grant funds to assist in funding fuels mitigation projects.
FIREWISE - (opens in a new window) How Can You Become FIREWISE?
If you, or your community, is interested in learning more about FIREWISE, please contact the Forestry Commission.
Ready, Set, Go! - (opens in a new window)Fire Adapted Communities - (opens in a new window)
Community Assessments and Community Wildfire Protection Plans (CWPPs)
In an effort to raise the public’s awareness to this fire danger potential the South Carolina Forestry Commission (SCFC) implemented the Firewise program with efforts focused primarily in populated areas historically known to have a high wildfire occurrence. Currently the SCFC conducts wildfire hazard and risk assessments of communities interested in becoming Firewise. From the data collected during these assessments a Community Wildfire Protection Plan (CWPP) is developed. The objective of this plan is to set clear priorities for wildfire threat mitigation. Included are prioritized recommendations for reducing wildland fuels and structure ignitability in order to better protect the community and its essential infrastructure.
The CWPP will include community centered actions that will:
- educate the citizens about wildfire, its risks, and ways to protect life and property
- focus on collaborative decision making and citizen participation
- develop and implement effective mitigation strategies
The assessment and CWPP development phases will be coordinated with local fire departments to coordinate the firefighting resources within the community.
Over 620 communities have been assessed throughout South Carolina with almost 200 rating at High to Extreme Risk to wildfire. Of these communities about 100 have received Community Wildfire Protection Plans.
To educate the citizens about the assessment findings and to share the Firewise recommendations described in the CWPP, workshops are held for community leaders (Living on the Edge in South Carolina) and for homeowners (How to Have a Firewise Home). Over 2,000 citizens have attended 43 Firewise workshops throughout the state.
If you are interested in having your community assessed and having a Community Wildfire Protection Plan developed please contact one of the following:
- Steve Moore: State Firewise Coordinator – email@example.com ; 803-896-8854
- Bill Wiley: Piedmont Firewise Field Coordinator for the following counties:Abbeville, Anderson, Cherokee, Chester, Chesterfield, Clarendon, Darlington, Edgefield, Fairfield, Greenville, Greenwood, Kershaw, Lancaster, Laurens, Lee, Lexington, Marlboro, McCormick, Newberry, Oconee, Pickens, Richland, Saluda, Spartanburg, Sumter, Union, and York.
Bwiley@scfc.gov ; Cell Phone 803-360-8264 and Office Phone 803-325-1926
- Drake Carroll: Coastal Firewise Field Coordinator for the following countiesAiken County, Allendale County, Bamberg County, Barnwell County, Beaufort County, Berkeley County, Calhoun County, Lower Charleston County, Upper Charleston County, Colleton County, Dillon County, Dorchester County, Florence County, Georgetown County, Hampton County, Horry County, Jasper County, Marion County, Orangeburg County, and Williamsburg County.
Dcarroll@scfc.gov ; Cell Phone 843-601-9121 and Office Phone 843-423-3722
For those communities showing interest and taking action to implement their CWPP they can receive national recognition as a Firewise Community/USA by meeting the following criteria:
- Complete an assessment and develop a CWPP
- Establish and maintain an active Firewise Council
- Invest at least $2 pre capita each year in wildfire protection work
- Conduct/sponsor an annual Firewise workday involving community members
- Submit an annual report documenting Firewise activities
South Carolina's Communities Nationally Recognized as Firewise Community/USA
1. Savannah Lakes Village, McCormick County (2004)
2. Keowee Key, Oconee County (2006)
3. Wynward Pointe, Oconee County (2007)
4. Honey Hill, Jasper County (2008)
5. Keowee Harbours, Oconee County (2009)
6. Chickasaw Point, Oconee County (2009)
7. Waterford Pointe, Oconee County (2009)
8. The Farm, Horry County (2010)
9. Pine Creek, Kershaw County (2010)
10. Walkers Woods, Horry County (2010)
11. Hunters Pointe, Darlington County (2010)
12. Waterford, Oconee County (2010)
13. Briarcliffe Acres, Horry County (2010)
14. Prince George, Georgetown County (2012)
15. Avalon, Horry County (2012)
16. Debordieu, Georgetown County (2012)
17. Long Bay Club, Horry County (2013)
18. Heather Lakes, Horry County (2013)
19. Camden Creek at Plantation, Georgetown County (2013)
20. Waterford Plantation, Horry County (2013)
21. Parkland at the Legends, Horry County (2013)
22. Cliffs Valley, Greenville County (2013)
23. Oak Creek Plantation, Spartanburg County (2013)
24. Windsor Green, Horry County (2014)
25. The Bluffs on the Waterway, Horry County (2014)
26. Myrtle Trace South, Horry County (2015)
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