Fire Safe Councils vs Firewise Communities

What’s the difference and do I need both?

Although these two programs are both about saving lives and property in the event of a wildfire, they are independent of each other.


A Fire Safe Council (FSC) is a state initiative. The Local Councils are normally nonprofit organization used to source grants typically for a Cities or Towns that addresses open space fuel mitigation as well as home wildfire resiliency. (Nonprofit status is not required, but many grants have nonprofit requirements). Fire Safe Councils also function as the City’s umbrella for wildfire prevention.


The Firewise USA® program is a federal initiative that deals directly with HOAs and Communities, whose projects and actions get them recognized by the NFPA® as a Firewise Community, resulting in benefits to the communities. Firewise Communities do not need any formal legal status, however many HOAs are registered as a nonprofit.


The answer is YES you need both, unless you are a very small community.



  • Legal Recognition
  • Website Creation
  • Wildfire Risk Assessment (WRA) Facilitation
  • Community Wildfire Protection Plan (CWPP) Facilitation

Assistance with:

  • Obtaining Grants
  • 5-year Risk Assessments
  • Agency Partnering



  • Consulting
  • Website Development
  • Resident Management System™ (RMS)
  • Required Firewise Volunteer Reporting
  • Marketing
  • Educational Programs

Assistance with:

  • Obtaining Grants
  • Required 3-year Action Plans
  • Required 5-year Risk Assessments
  • Community Engagement
  • Volunteer Recruiting


Administered by States such as the California Fire Safe Council

Setup Requirements: 

  • Board 
  • Nonprofit 501(c)3 (recommended)
  • Wildfire Risk Assessment (WRA) – City / Town
    (Normally completed by 3rd Party Company)
  • Community Wildfire Protection Plan (CWPP) 


  • Assists in the protection of Life, Home, and Property 
  • A recognized entity that represents a city or town and acts as a central hub for wildfire resilience activity  
  • Can apply for grants (many are specified for FSCs) 


  • Broad purview, including open space and homes 
  • Connects communities with wildfire-related agencies 
  • Each FSC must define its boundaries as part of the Wildfire Risk Assessment, and then create a CWPP to respond to the risks defined in the WRA 

Estimated Setup and 1st Year Costs:

Incorporation, WRA, CWPP, Board Insurance, Consulting


Estimated Annual Costs:

Tax filings, WRA updates every 3 years, Consulting,
Board Insurance


Ongoing Requirements:

  • Recommended every 3 years
  • Nonprofit must file annual Federal and State returns


Administered by NFPA®

Setup Requirements: 

  • Board/Committee (no formal organization) 
  • 8-2,500 homes/dwellings maximum (CAL FIRE prefers maximum 500)
  • Community Risk Assessment (CRA) – HOA or Community
    (Normally completed by local Fire Department) 
  • 3-year Action Plan 
  • Hours, Materials, Dollars, and Yard Vegetation Tracking System 
    1 hour per year per residence of volunteer hours
    Current California rate of 1 hour = $31.80 
    Yard Vegetation is measured and tracked in Cubic Yards


  • Assists in the protection of Life, Homes, and Property 
  • Provides data that become action plans for a safer community 
  • Free (currently) Home Assessments
    (Normally completed by local RCD, Fire Department or locally trained assessors) 
  • Can increase the Firewise Community’s ability to get
    individual home insurance and decreased rates 


  • Works directly with HOAs or communities 
  • Purview includes homes and Community’s Open Space only 
  • Each Community must define its boundaries as part of their CRA, and produce a 3-year plan responding to their CRA defined risks

Estimated Setup and 1st Year Costs:

Website, CRM, WRA, 3-year Action Plan, Consulting 


Estimated Annual Costs: (Shared)

Website Hosting, CRM, Other software, IT Support


Ongoing Requirements:

  • Annual renewal to maintain status: Board updates,
    3-year action plans, Vegetation removal, Risk Reduction Investment (Volunteer hours and Money Spent)
  • WRA updated minimum every 5 years


That is why we developed the Resident Management System™ (RMS) that makes
educating, engaging and tracking of resident volunteer activities easy and efficient.


CLICK HERE to find out how we can help you

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