5th Symposium on Fire and Forest Meteorology and the 2nd International Wildland Fire Ecology and Fire Management Congress

Tuesday, 18 November 2003: 5:00 PM
Living on the Edge in Florida CD-ROM
James Harrell, Florida Division of Forestry, Tallahassee, FL
Wildland/urban interface fire has been a significant issue for the State of Florida for a quarter of a century. A fast-growing population, urban sprawl and tremendous amounts of accumulated wildand fuel all contribute to the very real threat of structure loss when wildfires occur. This was painfully apparent from 1998 to 2001, when over 1,000 Florida structures were damaged or destroyed as a result of wildland fire. Losses of this magnitude resulted in an accelerated initiative by the Division of Forestry to encourage homeowners and community stakeholders to take action as partners in wildland fire protection.

In October, 2003, the Florida Division of Forestry completed development of a new and innovative CD-ROM to help citizens and community leaders understand fire protection in the wildland/urban interface. This interactive educational tool entitled Living on the Edge in Florida utilizes video clips, downloadable pdf files, virtual reality graphics, internet links and a companion website to provide an enjoyable, “user-friendly” way for homeowners and community stakeholders to learn about wildland fire and fire protection in interface areas. Corporate partner in the project was Interactive Training Media, Inc. of Tallahassee, FL.

Living on the Edge in Florida begins with a tutorial on wildland fire and proceeds to an introduction to the Firewise Communities program and video clips featuring nationally recognized experts like Dr. Martha Monroe (University of Florida) on “Firewise Landscaping” and Dr. Jack Cohen (USFS) on “Why Homes Burn.”

In a challenging, interactive section, users are challenged with three “hands-on” exercises that focus on protecting individual homes, reducing a neighborhood wildfire hazard and designing safer communities. Internet links allow the user immediate access to a wealth of related wildland/urban interface. The CD-ROM concludes with video clips from “community stakeholders” who relate their role in fire protection in the wildland/urban interface. The companion website and an internal assessment tool will allow members of professional organizations to learn about wildland/urban interface fire while earning continuing education units (CEU’s).

Living on the Edge in Florida is designed for use with a data projector in small workshops, for individual use at a personal computer, and for use in upper-level high school and college classes. In September, 2003, the Division of Forestry was awarded a grant from Florida Ag in the Classroom, Inc. to introduce Living on the Edge in Florida into Florida high schools.

State Forester Mike Long summed it all up by stating, “We are very excited about the opportunities with have with Living on the Edge in Florida, it is a fun, interactive training tool using cutting-edge technology. The potential to impact the way homeowners and communities plan for wildland fire protection is unlimited.”

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