Oklahoma Forestry Services to unveil new wildfire risk assessment web portal
Officials with Oklahoma Forestry Services recently unveiled a new program designed to help Oklahomans better protect their homes and communities from future wildfires.
At the gathering, state officials including Gov. Mary Fallin, Secretary of Agriculture Jim Reese and State Forester George Geissler, unveiled the Southern Wildfire Risk Assessment Portal, or SouthWRAP. The web portal allows individuals, civic planners, fire departments, emergency managers, and elected officials to zero in on their wildfire risk and access resources to help them better prepare for wildfires and mitigate hazards.
“Not only are the men and women of Oklahoma Forestry Services on the front lines fighting wildfires, they have also been working behind the scenes on ways to help the people of Oklahoma better prepare and protect themselves from the devastation of wildfires,” Reese said. “We know you can’t always predict, much less control wildfires, but SouthWRAP offers an opportunity for communities to better understand what they can do to prepare.”
SouthWRAP is primarily geared toward officials who are creating a long-range regional plan, such as a Community Wildfire Protection Plan. The “professional viewer” application allows a user to outline a project boundary on a map and generate a customized report that summarizes wildfire risk information for that area.
For example, the report shows where and how many people are living in an area, as well as zones within that area that might be prone to high wildfire risk due to landscape characteristics, historical fire occurrence, weather, terrain and potential fire behavior. Armed with this information, users can create prevention strategies, define mitigation options, allocate resources and prioritize programs to better protect their communities.
“It gives you the ability to mine the latest available data and makes it easy to use,” said Mark Goeller, assistant director and fire management chief of OFS. “In the past, you had to have GIS skills to be able to use this kind of data, and you had to rely on a third party to interpret it. SouthWRAP not only identifies a community’s at-risk areas, it provides potential mitigation solutions.”
Training will be offered to professional users to ensure they can make optimal use of SouthWRAP, and OFS personnel will work with communities that determine a need for a protection plan. Geissler noted that homeowners, too, can identify threats and access prevention and mitigation resources using the “public viewer” version of the application.
“Basically, everyone living in the wildland urban interface can be doing something to better protect their home and family,” Geissler said. “You can use the ‘what’s your risk’ tool to get an idea of what the fire intensity potential is around your home and what you can do to help protect yourself.”