Your Community Wildfire Protection Plan (CWPP)

Getting around the challenging process of completing a CWPP, with the help of Bintel maps and services and Athena’s wildfire risk assessment tools.

Athena Intelligence
6 min readFeb 15, 2024

Wildfires have always posed a threat to communities near forests or grasslands. However, in the past few years, wildfires have become hotter, with an average increase of 400°, and megafires have become more common. The impact on property, air quality, drinking water, public health, and ecosystems has been estimated at over $400 million per year.

Photo by Caleb Cook, Unsplash

As a result, the need for proactive mitigation measures has never been greater. Municipal or neighborhood mitigation efforts usually begin with a Community Wildfire Protection Plan (CWPP). The objective of a CWPP is to safeguard lives, property, and natural resources from the impact of wildfires.

CWPPs include a comprehensive assessment of wildfire risk within a specific community or region. The report considers factors such as topography, weather patterns, vegetation types, historical wildfire data, infrastructure vulnerability, and community demographics. By understanding these factors, communities can identify areas of high wildfire risk and prioritize their efforts accordingly. The overall goal is always to enhance the community’s resilience to significant wildfires.

Stakeholders in a community, whose perspectives should be included in the CWPP, can encompass a variety of organizations, each offering unique viewpoints. These stakeholders will vary for each community.

From the International Association of Fire Chief’s Guide to Developing and Implementing a Community Wildfire Preparedness Plan (CWPP)

Given the multitude of stakeholders, delays or restrictions in the process are more likely to be avoided through engagement of the types of groups listed above. The point at which they are integrated into the process may vary depending on the issues and desired level of involvement. However, obtaining acceptance and buy-in represents one of the most significant challenges in drafting a CWPP. This is why engaging an external organization, such as Bintel Inc., is a pragmatic solution.

Usually, federal and state agencies are brought into the process early to bolster political capital in support of the CWPP. Even when federal agencies lack authority within the local jurisdiction, the community may share boundaries with federal land or land for which the state holds responsibility. These agencies can provide subject matter expertise on vegetation, fuel treatments, local fire history, and information on where to apply for grants.

Every Community Wildfire Protection Plan has 4 essential components:

A map for the community, which shows the risk assessment.

This map should include fuel hazards, historic fires, and the risk to homes, businesses, and essential infrastructure. Online maps, with links to other infrastructure and wildfire communication tools, enhance the value created by a CWPP. For this reason, Bintel has focused on Living CWPPs, which incorporate these links and have the ability to update to reflect new conditions, including mitigation efforts.

Most CWPPs also consider other “value at risk” factors, such as wildlife protection areas, watersheds essential to community drinking water, and disadvantaged or special populations (schools, senior living facilities, etc.).

A Living CWPP provides a framework for quantifying or measuring change. It establishes a system for managing and overseeing data assets throughout their lifecycle to ensure consistency, quality, integrity, and security. This approach, broadly known as Data Governance, requires the establishment of policies, procedures, and standards to govern data usage, access, and sharing across organizational boundaries and over time. Effective data governance fosters collaboration among stakeholders, promotes transparency, and enables informed decision-making by providing reliable and timely access to trusted data.

A Living CWPP involves ongoing monitoring, evaluation, and adaptation to evolving wildfire risk, considering changing climatic conditions, technological advancements, and regulatory requirements to ensure accuracy, relevance, and compliance. This iterative process represents continuous improvement and facilitates communication and alignment of objectives across stakeholders, enabling them to leverage data effectively.

Once the wildfire risk assessment is complete and stakeholders are engaged, a CWPP outlines specific strategies and actions to reduce the likelihood of wildfires and minimize their impacts.

An assessment of local preparedness and firefighting capability.

A review of local firefighting capability entails developing evacuation plans, establishing communication protocols, and conducting training exercises to ensure that residents and emergency responders are prepared to effectively respond to wildfire events.

This often pertains to nearby lands, from which a fire could spread, and involves coordinating with other firefighting authorities, referred to as the Authority Having Jurisdiction (AHJ). Coordinating with adjacent jurisdictions and partnering with state and federal agencies to implement cross-boundary wildfire management strategies and share resources is also crucial.

Prioritizing the hazard reduction opportunities

Prioritization involves focusing on the ignitability of buildings and flammable materials. Recommendations may include prescribed burns, thinning, and creating defensible space around homes and infrastructure to reduce fuel loads and limit the spread of wildfires.

In some cases, recommendations may involve infrastructure improvements, such as upgrading roads, bridges, and other critical infrastructure to facilitate evacuations and enhance access for firefighters during wildfire incidents.

An action plan to reduce risk.

CWPPs typically include a plan for outreach and public education, evacuation planning, and recommended fuel treatment options.

The public education component focuses on raising awareness about wildfire risk, promoting fire-safe landscaping practices, and providing resources for homeowners to mitigate wildfire hazards on their properties.

Bintel Inc. has been working with communities for years on planning and public outreach using geospatial information. Leveraging the geospatial prefire risk assessment data from Athena, Bintel realized that it could fulfill the CWPP needs for many communities in the Rocky Mountain region.

With the assistance of experienced firefighters and community activists, Bintel believes that CWPPs, which incorporate local experience and contemporary online tools, can prevent them from becoming static PDF documents relegated to a binder and forgotten. These Living CWPPs will be accessible online for all stakeholders.

Living CWPPs

A Living CWPP establishes mechanisms to track progress, evaluate the effectiveness of mitigation efforts, and adjust Athena risk maps based on changing conditions and new information.

By collaborating with Athena, mitigation activities by municipalities and rural utilities can be captured and shared with municipal bond rating agencies, insurance companies, and government agencies.

Colorado’s Bintel Inc. possesses expertise in several key tools necessary for a successful CWPP and now offers services in these areas. Bintel is committed to working with communities on data governance to ensure that their CWPPs are living documents, with regular updates and revisions, remaining relevant, effective, and easily accessible to all stakeholders.

The cost of not having regular updates is quite high. Wildfire risk is evolving due to factors such as climate change, land use changes, and population growth.

Utilizing its geospatial platform to enhance the safety and lives of people throughout the Rocky Mountain region, Bintel is committed to expediting CWPP projects. Bintel’s project management services are seamlessly integrated with its maps and data governance, along with Athena Intelligence’s wildfire risk assessment. By collaborating with wildfire experts, the process ensures a holistic approach to wildfire management.

In summary, a Community Wildfire Protection Plan (CWPP) is a collaborative and proactive approach to wildfire management that empowers communities to reduce risk, enhance resilience, and protect lives and property during wildfire events. Properly done, the CWPP process engages and educates stakeholders, shares insights from risk assessments, and assists in prioritizing implementation of targeted mitigation strategies. This helps communities mitigate the threat of wildfires, creating safer, more resilient environments for residents and ecosystems alike.

Athena Intelligence is a data vendor with a geospatial, conditional, profiling tool that pulls together vast amounts of disaggregated wildfire and environmental data to generate spatial intelligence, resulting in a digital fingerprint of wildfire risk.



Athena Intelligence

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