Firewise Historical Articles

Great article on home building in the Wildlife Urban here

Warm Springs Mesa – A Recognized Firewise Community

In 2010 our Mesa officially became a recognized Firewise Community by the national Firewise organization and the state of Idaho Firewise chapter.

What does this mean? In essence it means that as a legitimate recognized organization, we can qualify for assistance from the federal and state government to help us protect our neighborhood from the threat of wildfire. Considering that we are surrounded by wild lands and are located on a windy hill, the threat of a wildfire on our mesa is very real. It also means that as individuals and as a community, we recognize that we must take steps to protect ourselves from this threat both individually and collectively.

Through education, personal preparation, and wild land restoration, we hope to reduce the chance of a wildfire impacting our homes and neighborhood. While no one can guarantee that a wildfire will not impact us someday, we can take steps in advance to reduce the chance of this happening or to minimize it’s effects.

It’s all about preparation and creating defensible space.  There are plenty of success stories of individuals creating a defensible space around their home that saved their house while neighboring homes burned. Firewise communities around the country are now attempting to create a defensible space around both their homes and neighborhoods to increase their chances of surviving a wildfire.

Protecting our neighborhood and homes has to be both an individual and a community-wise effort. We invite you join us in our efforts to “fire-wise” our neighborhood. Please go on line at to learn about the program and refer to the websites listed on the next page for information on what you can do be fire wise.

Click here to view a documentary about a fire and flood in the Boise foothills. Very interesting for Boiseans and land managers alike.

The Ready, Set, Go! (RSG) Program, seeks to develop and improve the dialogue between fire departments and the residents they serve…read more here

Dear Firewise Communities/USA participants,
This newly designed infographic is being used in our social media outreach, blogs and featured on our website.  It illustrates the magnitude of the risk reduction work being done nationwide at both the state and individual community levels; along with other wildland fire information.
As always, we thank you for all you do to increase mitigation efforts and grow participation within your community.

Cathy Prudhomme
Community Outreach Program Manager – NFPA’s Wildland Fire Operations Division

Home Defensible/Survivable Space Link 

Websites That Offer Help On What You Can Do . . .                     Boise City Fire Dept. “Ready-Set-Go” Program.

How to protect   your home from a wildfire. Download the Living With Wildfire Guide For The   Homeowner.

Fire Safety and  Wildfire preparation

Community   safety, landscapes, general info.

Wildfire   prevention for adults and children.

What to do   before, during, and after a wildfire.

Good Things To Know . . . .

How To Protect My Home From Fire?

The City of Boise Fire Department will come to your home and give you pointers on what to do to protect your home from a house fire and/or a wildfire. Call to schedule a visit. The Ready-Set-Go Video also will provide you with suggestions on how to prepare.

How Do I Get The Word That There Is An Evacuation?

There is a good chance that you might not get the word that a fire in the area is causing an evacuation. Ada County will call land line telephones but it will take a lot of time to reach everyone. They cannot presently call cell phones as previously reported. Should a wildfire threaten your home, your best bet according to the “Ready-Set-Go” video, is to prepare to evacuate and then leave early before an official evacuation takes place.

How Do I Protect My Valuable Documents?

It’s a good idea to keep your most important documents and a video tape/disc of your home’s contents in a safety deposit box at your local bank. The best alternative is to own a fire-proof vault that can protect papers from burning in a high-temperature fire.

How to evacuate your home and what to do in a crisis.

Remember the fire drills in school? Going over an evacuation plan with the family makes sense. Especially with any children who are on their own or who care for others while you are away. Once again, the Ready-Set-Go Video will help you prepare.

The WMA Wildfire Protection Plan

  • Create a fire-wise defensive perimeter surrounding the neighborhood designed to reduce the amount of available fuel and ignition sources. (The primary purpose will be to slow down a wild fire to provide the time for the fire department to respond and fight the threat.)
  • Develop a neighborhood warning and evacuation plan in conjunction with the Boise Fire Department to prepare for the potential of having to evacuate the mesa.
  • Implement an environmentally friendly landscaped fire resistant zone surrounding the neighborhood.
  • Educate the neighbors to be fire-wise and to plan/prepare for a wild fire possibility.

Warm Springs Mesa Neighborhood Initiatives

City of Boise Wildland Urban Interface Fire Prevention Project

The City of Boise, Bureau of Land Management, and Southwest Idaho Resource Conservation Council are sponsoring a fire fuels removal project in our neighborhood.  Any neighbor that wishes to cut and trim the vegetation around their home should bring the debris to the street curb for pick up by contractors who will chip and then dispose of the waste.  This applies to organic landscape material only. Takes place every Saturday in April.

Warm Springs Avenue Fuel Reduction/Mesa Firewise Fuel Break Project.

Wildland fuel along our neighborhood entry roads and ladder fuel in draws leading up to our mesa will be trimmed and cut back to reduce the hazardous fuel load in areas that have a high fire ignition risk.  This will take place in spring/summer 2012.

Boise City Fire Dept-Ada County-FEMA- Mesa Warning and Evacuation Plan

Initial discussions have begun to establish a siren fire warning system and a fire evacuation system. We would like to begin this process in June of this year after our local Harris Ranch fire station comes on line.  Since there is no blueprint or precedent for either in the State of Idaho, we will be the trailblazer on this one. We are looking for a volunteer to assist us in this effort. Please contact Dan Arnhols .

Firewise Point-of-Contact Representatives

Firewise P-O-C’s (point-of-contact) representatives are ask to volunteer to organize and educate neighbors that live on the wild land interface. We are looking for people that live on the perimeter streets that will help educate and organize their neighbors to reduce fire threats behind their homes. Working in concert with the Firewise committee, the P-O-C’s will be instrumental in bringing resources and assistance to those neighbors willing to reduce the fire risk in their back yards. Contact Tom Burns to join the growing list of volunteers.

Warm Springs Mesa Wildland Hazardous Fuels Removal and Restoration Project

Utilizing the resources of the BLM Community Assistance Program and the Idaho Resource Conservation & Development Council, the WMA Firewise Committee has made arrangements with our neighborhood developer to initiate a wild land restoration and hazardous fuels removal project on the undeveloped Warm Springs Mesa land surrounding our neighborhood. No land within our existing home development will be involved in this process.

The Wildland Restoration Project serves a dual purpose of restoring/protecting the original native grasses and shrubs while reducing the increasing amount of non-native annual grasses growing on the mesa. The main culprit necessitating this action is a particularly invasive grass known as Medusahead which is quickly spreading over the mesa wild land. According to the Oregon Department of Agriculture, “Once land is invaded by this grass, it becomes almost worthless, supporting neither native animals, birds, or livestock. Medusahead rye changes the temperature and moisture dynamics of the soil, greatly reducing the seed germination of other species, and creating fuels for wildfires.” The Idaho Statesman front page article on 11/13/10 regarding the invasion of Medusahead provides additional details regarding the growing threat and limited solutions to this problem.

Read more at:
After reviewing alternative methods of addressing the medusahead/cheat grass problem on the mesa, like weed-wacking, goats, controlled burns, etc, it was concluded that the most effective and practical means of restoring the mesa was to apply a herbicide. The decision to use a herbicide as a solution came after our limited success in having homeowners on our wild land interface reduce the fuel behind their homes and after reviewing the data demonstrating that allowable alternatives offered negligible results. Although we believe that herbicide should be used as a last resort, we were not able to come up with an alternative workable solution.

The selected pre-emergent herbicide for this project is known as Plateau and has been approved by the Environmental Protection Agency for use on both crops and rangelands for the past ten years. Of the herbicides available for use on Boise foothills, the Plateau product is considered to be the least objectionable and the most commonly used. (Plateau is currently in use by Ada County on rangeland near homes.) A licensed contractor using ATV’s, experienced in the application of herbicides in a wild land environment applied the product a distance of 150+ feet from our homes under a contract from the BLM.  The web offers numerous articles on this BASF product for your own research. Public hearings and approval to apply herbicide within the Boise foothills took place a number of years ago as part of the Boise Foothills East Environmental Assessment process.

A meeting was held at East Junior High School this past February 23, 2011 to present information on fire protection and to further educate the neighborhood on our objectives and projects. Presenters from Boise City Fire Department, Bureau of Land Management, Idaho Firewise, and our Firewise committee presented the problems that we collectively face and the various options at our disposal.

For the most part, those in attendance were supportive of the presented initiatives. We received a number of qualified volunteers to help our on projects. Questions from the audience were fielded before, during, and after the meeting by the speakers on a range of topics. We received some good general suggestions about various projects and some concerns from a few attendees about the use of herbicide on the mesa. In response to those concerned, the Firewise committee agreed to consider viable alternatives to herbicide that offered a good probability of sustainable success. (Success being defined as a removal of the medusahead/cheatgrass fuel load and a restoration of the natural habitat to act as a fuelbreak.) After seeking suggestions from the community and reconsidering the suggested use of targeted grazing (sheep/goats), it was determined that achieving success was only possible with herbicide.

We are still seeking viable alternatives to herbicide that have been proven or have demonstrated a good chance of success in a large geographical area.  Any methods or products that you wish for the Firewise committee to consider as an alternative to Plateau should be submitted to either Tom Burns  or Dan Arnhols. Please provide the suggestion, supporting documentation, and the contact information for the responsible individuals that we can speak with.

An application of this herbicide took place in the fall of 2011 after initial test results proved successful.  Most of the grasslands surrounding our neighborhood were treated (referenced in blue per the aerial map.)  The effects of the 2011 application will be determined in the spring of 2012 and 2013 when the results can be analyzed.

Neighborhood Firewise Meeting

Aerial view of our neighborhood and herbicide treatment area in blue.

Boise City Fire Department Ready-Set-Go Fire Education Project

Boise Fire Department has recognized our Firewise efforts as the leading neighborhood initiative in the city and has requested our adoption of their Ready-Set-Go program as the education component for our Firewise program. A video and literature is available to the homeowner on how to prepare one’s home and family for a wildfire.


Qualified volunteers are needed to help with our projects. We are in need of people with experience in dealing with wildfires, disaster assistance, grant writing, and interfacing with city/state/federal agencies. Please contact  Tom Burns.