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First National Wildfire Preparedness Day celebration is May 3 at Waikoloa Dryland Wildfire Safety Park

Volunteers help at the Waikoloa Dryland Wildfire Safety Park workday. (PHOTO COURTESY OF HWMO FOR NHN)Buy Photo
Volunteers help at the Waikoloa Dryland Wildfire Safety Park workday. (PHOTO COURTESY OF HWMO FOR NHN)
Volunteers pose for a photo following a Waikoloa Demonstration Garden workday. (PHOTO COURTESY OF HWMO FOR NHN)
Volunteers pose for a photo following a Waikoloa Demonstration Garden workday. (PHOTO COURTESY OF HWMO FOR NHN)

May 3 is the first National Wildfire Preparedness Day, and communities from across the nation will hold events to help raise wildfire awareness, promote collaboration and bring neighbors together to work on projects that protect homes, neighborhoods and entire communities.

Hawaii Wildfire Management Organization is organizing a day of fire preparedness fun and festivities at the Waikoloa Dryland Wildfire Safety Park in Waikoloa Village from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Melia Street on May 3. There will be a volunteer work session in the morning planting and maintaining native plants, a firefighter meet and greet, new informational signs installation on how to harden one’s home, student-led garden tours, and a keiki “Prevent Fires” road sign-making corner. In the afternoon, the group will host wildfire preparedness workshops and guest speakers, a neighborhood Firewise field tour, a keiki activity station, and possibly Smokey Bear. All ages are welcome and the event is free.

Recent research has shown that Hawaii has a higher proportion of fire-prone acres than any of the 17 western-most states. Hawaii Wildfire Management Organization, a non-profit based in Waimea, addresses Hawaii’s critical wildfire issues through a variety of programs. HWMO facilitates proactive planning, disseminates critical information, and implements fuels management activities and research that protects irreplaceable natural resources and communities.

As part of their prevention efforts, they have created the first and only fire preparedness demonstration garden in Hawaii. The Waikoloa Dryland Wildfire Safety Park demonstrates how to reduce the impacts of wildfires through defensible space, Firewise landscaping and fire resistant building materials. This garden is primarily made up of low-maintenance, native Hawaiian species that are resistant to drought, wind, and heat. The garden also exhibits Firewise principles including various landscaping techniques and maintenance guidelines for zones around the home at 10 feet, 30 feet and more than 100 feet.

HWMO received a $500 funding award for the event through the National Fire Protection Association and State Farm Insurance. The contest for the award was extremely competitive, spanning more than 25 states — only 20 out of 84 projects were selected. Other organizations involved in the event include: Hawaii County Fire Department, Waikoloa Community Association, Waikoloa Community Emergency Response Team, Waikoloa Dry Forest Initiative, Waikoloa Outdoor Circle, and Malama Kai Foundation.

For further questions, email pablo@hawaiiwildfire.org or call 885-0900. The group will be Tweeting about the event through the national hashtag: #WildfirePrepDay. Follow them through social media: Twitter: @HawaiiWildfire; Facebook: HawaiiWildfire GooglePlus: +Hawaii Wildfire Management Organization or visit their wesite at hawaiiwildfire.org.