(Update: Adding video)
SALEM, Ore. (KTVZ) -- The Oregon Fire Chiefs Association on Thursday welcomed the Oregon Department of Forestry and Oregon State University College of Forestry’s rollout of the Oregon Explorer Wildfire Risk Map.
The statewide, interactive map was created through the passage of Senate Bill 762 (passed in 2021) and uses the best science available to determine risk level for wildfire across the state. This map will be a critical tool to inform decision-making related to protecting the state from damage and loss due to wildfire.
This tool will be used in various ways to reduce risk of catastrophic wildfire in Oregon. By identifying regions of highest risk, Oregon can concentrate our wildfire prevention, preparedness, and response efforts more strategically and efficiently.
The mapping criteria was created through countless hours of work from ODF, OSU College of Forestry, issue-area experts, and the public to produce the most accessible and effective tool possible for Oregonians to understand the risk of wildfire.
The Oregon Fire Chiefs Association has partnered closely in the creation and proposed application of this tool since the drafting of Senate Bill 762 during the 2021 Legislative Session and anticipates the utilization of this tool to create safer communities across Oregon.
Bend Fire Deputy Operations Chief Bill Boos, OFCA president, gave the following statement on the debut of the risk mapping tool:
“It’s incredibly exciting to see Oregon taking major steps in the right direction in preventing catastrophic wildfire. After the past two fire seasons, the need to modernize the way we prepare for, and fight wildfire was tragically evident.
"I’m proud that our state took action to do so with SB 762 and the fire service is gratified to see this work coming to fruition.
"The Oregon Explorer Wildfire Risk Map will be a tremendous asset for the fire service, policy makers, and property owners to prevent the type of destruction and turmoil Oregonians have experienced. Thank you to the state agencies, Oregon State College of Forestry, stakeholders, and members of the public who helped create this tool”
You can view the updated Oregon Explorer Risk Map HERE.
News release from Oregon Office of State Fire Marshal:
Oregon Defensible Space Code Development
SALEM, Ore. – Today, the Oregon Department of Forestry and Oregon State University launched Oregon's Wildfire Risk Map. Some homes and properties identified within the map may be subject to future defensible space regulations the Oregon Office of State Fire Marshal (OSFM) and its partners are currently developing through an open public process.
Through legislation, Senate Bill 762, which was passed and signed into law last summer, the OSFM was tasked with developing the Oregon Defensible Space Code. The code development process is currently underway and involves a wide range of stakeholders across Oregon. Senate Bill 762 outlines that the code must be completed by December 2022. The OSFM and its stakeholders are on track to meet that timeline. For context, the development of the Oregon Defensible Space Code is following the same process the OSFM uses to adopt and codify the Oregon Fire Code every three years.
The Oregon Defensible Space Code intends to protect life and property in the event of a wildfire. The code may apply to properties that meet two requirements. First, the home or property must be in the wildland-urban interface and at high or extreme risk on the Oregon Wildfire Risk Map.
According to OSU and ODF, approximately 80,000 of the 120,276 tax lots in the wildland-urban interface and at high or extreme risk classifications currently have a structure that may be subject to new codes or standards. According to OSU and ODF, this figure represents approximately five percent of properties in Oregon.
The OSFM would like to stress the importance of defensible space and the added protection it could provide your family and home. The OSFM has developed several tools to help homeowners begin defensible space projects. More information and potential grant opportunities can be found on the OSFM's website, under Oregon Defensible Space Code. The Office welcomes public comments and feedback on the defensible space code through this form.
"We know from decades of wildfires in Oregon that wildfire does not recognize map lines," said Oregon State Fire Marshal Mariana Ruiz-Temple. "Even if people find that they are not within the boundaries where future standards might apply, the majority of Oregon still has an elevated risk. We ask that all Oregonians take the necessary steps to create defensible space, no matter where they fall on the map. The more we do together to prepare our homes, the more resilient our communities will become against the rising threat of wildfire."
In the last year, the OSFM launched two initiatives to rise to the challenge of wildlife, Response Ready Oregon and Fire Adapted Oregon. We've set up special sections on our website to learn more about how these initiatives are already helping.