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Regulations and Plans

Regulations & plansJurisdictions often look for guidance when considering how to incorporate wildland fire safety issues into the planning and regulatory process.This section provides information related to policy and legislation, comprehensive planning, and codes and standards to reduce the impact of wildfire to a community.

Federal Legislation

  • The Federal Land Assistance, Management and Enhancement Act of 2009 (The FLAME Act)
    Significant legislation has been enacted over the course of several decades to shape federal approaches to wildland fire management. Most recently, in 2009, policy was influenced by the Partner Caucus on Fire Suppression Funding Solutions--a coalition of 114 environmental, industry, outdoor recreation, and forestry organizations led by National Association of State Foresters (NASF), The Wilderness Society and American Forests. This group believed that the establishment of a Federal Land Assistance, Management, and Enhancement (FLAME) fund would help to move the USDA Forest Service (Forest Service) and the Department of the Interior (DOI) toward a sustainable suppression funding mechanism better suited to deal with the escalating costs of fighting emergency fires. Subsequently, Congress passed the Federal Land Assistance, Management, and Enhancement Act of 2009 (the FLAME Act). This legislation established a separate account for funding for emergency wildfire suppression activities undertaken on Department of the Interior and National Forest System lands.
  • Cohesive Wildfire Management Strategy
    The FLAME Act also required that within a year of enactment, the Secretaries of Agriculture and the Interior, acting jointly, submit to Congress a report containing a cohesive strategy addressing how the two Departments, working together, will address the wildland fire problems. The report was to be consistent with recommendations described in recent Government Accountability Office (GAO) reports relative to a cohesive strategy and the strategic elements identified to be addressed. Embarking on a strategy development effort, the Wildland Fire Leadership Council (WFLC) — a consortium of Federal, state, tribal, county and local authorities — established a Cohesive Strategy Oversight Committee (CSOC) consisting of representatives from all levels of fire management and charged them with moving forward.  Up to date information on the Cohesive Wildfire Management Strategy can be found on the U.S. Forests and Rangelands website.

Comprehensive Planning
Comprehensive planning can be an effective means for minimizing the impacts of wildland fire to a community. The following resources go beyond defensible space requirements by discussing broader planning concepts such as topographical features, community location, site design, fire history, weather conditions, forest health, and adjacent land uses. Incorporating these land use and development considerations into the planning and building phase results in safer communities. 

  • Managing Fire in the Urban Wildland Interface
    This reference guide offers solutions and strategies for managing fire at the urban edge. It provides information on codes and laws and includes case studies, tables, figures, suggested websites, and other source material.  This guide draws on best practices from California, with lessons applicable nationwide. Information is applicable to a variety of audiences, including state, federal and local agency staff and officials, fire agency staff, attorneys, architects, landscape architects, property owners, developers, insurance company managers, business and community leaders.
  • Planning For Wildfires
    The American Planning Association’s Research Department produced Planning for Wildfires, a Planning Advisory Service Report (No. 529/530), in 2005. This report addresses: why homes are being built in the Wildland-Urban Interface; comprehensive plan considerations for communities facing wildfire hazards, and; best practices in development design in wildfire hazard areas. A rich history of WUI development, colorful illustrations, and helpful case studies make this a user-friendly document for anyone interested in better understanding land use planning’s role in minimizing wildfire risk to people and property.
  • Wildfire Planning Strategies for Community Design: A Guide for Southeastern Developers and Planners
    Produced by the Mississippi State University’s Department of Landscape Architecture, this guide provides case studies of fire impacted communities in the southeastern U.S., subdivisions designed with fire safety provisions, and examples of buffer zone strategies that have been effective in various fire events. While many examples are from the western United States, the land use recommendations are applicable to the southeast region.
  • Wildfire Risk Reduction in Florida
    Wildfire Risk Reduction in Florida: Home, Neighborhood, and Community Best Practices” is a 2010 update of the 2004 Best Development Practices manual. This user-friendly manual is targeted at a diverse audience that includes homeowners, business and community leaders, elected officials, planners, developers and builders, landscapers, and architects. It addresses collaboration and outreach, local planning, community design, building construction, and landscaping; and also includes background on the wildfire problem and fire and fuel management in Florida.

Many Firewise principles have been codified into NFPA standards. The four most widely used standards for topics related to wildland fire are listed below. More information on all NFPA codes and standards is also available on NFPA’s website.

Community Wildfire Protection Plans (CWPPs)
Community Wildfire Protection Plans are another means by which communities may address their wildfire hazard.