Firewise USA - Residents reducing wildfire risks



The national Firewise USA® recognition program provides a collaborative framework to help neighbors in a geographic area get organized, find direction, and take action to increase the ignition resistance of their homes and community and to reduce wildfire risks at the local level.  Any community that meets a set of voluntary criteria on an annual basis and retains an “In Good Standing Status” may identify itself as being a Firewise® Site.  


Organize it

Form a board/committee that’s comprised of residents and other applicable wildfire stakeholders. Consider inviting the local fire department, state forestry agency, elected officials, emergency manager, and if applicable the property management company to participate. This group will collaborate on identifying the site’s boundary and size. Firewise sites need to have a minimum of 8 individual single family dwelling units and are limited to a maximum of 2,500. Multiple sites can be located within a single large master-planned community/HOA.

Plan it

Obtain a written wildfire risk assessment from North Tahoe Fire's Forest Fuels Manager. The assessment should be a community-wide view that identifies areas of successful wildfire risk reduction and areas where improvements could be made. Emphasis should be on the general conditions of homes and related home ignition zones. The assessment is a living document and needs to be updated every five years.

Your board/committee will develop an action plan - a prioritized list of risk reduction projects/investments for the participating site, along with suggested homeowner actions and education activities that participants will strive to complete annually, or over a period of multiple years. Action plans should be updated at a minimum of at least every three years.

Do it

Host an outreach event and work with neighbors on addressing items in the action plan. These efforts will go towards your site’s annual wildfire risk reduction investment.

  • Find examples (PDF) of activities that count towards your investment.


At a minimum, each site is required to annually invest the equivalent of one volunteer hour per dwelling unit in wildfire risk reduction actions. If your site has identified 100 homes within its boundary, than 100 hours of work or the monetary equivalent, based on the independent sector value of volunteer time, need to be completed for that year.

New in 2022, North Tahoe Fire has grant funding available to assist organized community work days that can be used for green waste dumpsters and other community assistance.  In order for NTFPD to provide funding for this service, it is required that we meet a 1:1 match and community leader(s) need to correctly and accurately document community matching funds. This can be in-kind or cash. Cash match includes dollars spent to create defensible space for this specific community workday event, dollars spent to help support this event(advertising, rental of loaders or other equipment, costs for a contractor to help load dumpsters....etc.) -or- volunteer hours(in-kind) spent to plan, organize and run this community workday event, as well as property owner and volunteer hours spent creating defensible space and disposing of green waste for this specific community workday event. The value of volunteer time is currently valued at $29.95/hr.  Contact our North Tahoe Fire's Forest Fuels Manager for more information.

Tell Firewise USA® about it

New applications can be completed online at Tell them about the actions and efforts in your community to engage residents and complete mitigation work at the home level. Once all the criteria has been completed, the electronic application can be submitted. 

Insurance Discounts

The California Department of Insurance has approved filings by USAA to give homeowners insurance discounts to USAA members living in communities recognized by the Firewise USA® program. 

Mercury Insurance currently offers community level discounts for homes located in a Firewise USA® Recognition Program site.