Firewise USA - Residents reducing wildfire risks

Firewise USA sites in Maine

Georgetown Firewise USA Day

Indian Point, Georgetown, 2009

This community faces challenges such as excessive softwood and limited access to freshwater for suppressing wildfires. They have participated in our “Defensible Space Brush Chipping Program” and chipped up tons of brush near homes and within 50’ of common forested areas. Occasionally, the “Firewise USA Day” is held in conjunction with the annual Fire Department auction

Cushing Island, Portland, 2011

Spruce blowdown on Cushing Island

Cushing Island is a unique island community located off the coast of Portland. Like the other Portland islands, they face challenges such as invasive shrubs and vines, long response time from the mainland and forested areas that are very susceptible to windthrow. They have spent countless hours removing vegetation near homes and bucking up spruce blowdowns on the western side, so they can decay on the forest floor. Fortunately, the community is willing to work together to maintain defensible space near structures and keep their paths open for access.

Sprucewold, Boothbay Harbor, 2011

Sprucewold fire danger signs, 2018

Located on a peninsula heavily forested with mature spruce, this community also faces challenges with vehicle access, limited freshwater for wildfire suppression and steep slopes where fire could spread rapidly. In addition, many of the cottages and homes are log cabins built decades ago and covered with creosote.

In 2014, the Sprucewold Firewise USA Community was awarded $900 from the National Fire Prevention Association to support activities to help reduce wildfire hazards. They were considered “runners up” in a national contest called “1000 safer places.”

Pequawket Lake Preservation Association (PLPA), Limington, 2012

Pequawket Lake Preservation Association (PLPA) receiving Firewise USA Community Award in 2017

PLPA was Maine’s first lake association to achieve Firewise USA status and received their Firewise USA plaque at their annual meeting in July. Their organization focuses on water quality along with wildfire prevention. Community members continue to work on defensible space near homes and cutting brush back to allow access for fire fighting apparatus. There are also plans to install a dry hydrant near the lake to provide water for fire suppression.

Little Diamond Island, Portland, 2012

Thick brush between houses on Little Diamond Island

Portland’s Little Diamond Island has three main concerns when it comes to wildfire: extended response time to wildfires (and structure fires that may spread into forested areas), limited access and dense vegetation near cottages. Fortunately, the community is very well organized and works together to reduce the risk of wildfires.

Great Diamond Island, Portland 2013

Great Diamond Island from the water.

Great Diamond Island (GDI) is a 400 acre island located in Portland’s Casco Bay and is characterized by both historic buildings and newer homes and cottages. Most of the island is forested with mature hemlock and birch. Many of the hemlocks are stressed by insects and disease and are shedding branches on the forest floor. That, combined with the buildup of forest fuels is a growing concern. The communities on GDI and the volunteer fire department work well together to mitigate hazardous forest fuels.

Bustins Island, 2014

Homes along the shore of Bustins Island

Bustins Island, the 7th Maine community to receive Firewise USA Community/USA recognition, is a small, approximately 128 acre, mostly privately-owned island located off the coast of Freeport, Maine. The island has 117 seasonal cottages, no municipal electricity, a lot of dense softwood stands and a few dirt roads around and through the island.

Though Bustins Island has its own village corporation government, Freeport’s Fire & Rescue Department is responsible for fire suppression, and they also provide fire training in cooperation with the Bustins Safety Committee. The Firewise USA Board holds an annual Firewise USA Day on the island, and the whole community participates in the MFS Defensible Space Chipping Program.

Wynburg-Brightwater-WynburgEast, Phippsburg, 2017

Group photo of Wynburg-Brightwater-WynburgEast, Phippsburg, 2017

As a result of the Sheep Island wildfire in June 2016, this small coastal community has been very active with wildfire prevention. The types of housing range from seasonal cabins and historic cottages to year round homes and farmhouses. Comprised of three unique communities in the Brightwater area of Phippsburg, they work very hard to reduce the softwood forest fuels that have built up over the years. in 2018, they went “above and beyond” the one day of brush chipping with the Maine Forest Service and chipped several tons of brush on their own. The Phippsburg Fire Department is also active with this community and has participated in the Firewise Day as well as the Community Wildfire Protection Plan (CWPP).

Harfords Point, near Greenville, 2021

Sign at entrance to Harford Point near Greenville

This community has been doing wildfire prevention work for four years and is Maine’s newest Firewise USA site. They are tied into the Harford’s Point Association, which has about 95 homes. Many homes (both seasonal and year-round) are located in the forested areas along Moosehead Lake. Without their own fire department or municipal water, they rely on the Greenville Fire Dept and the Maine Forest Service for wildfire suppression. Fortunately, the community has a lot of volunteers willing to help with wildfire prevention. They continue to participate in the MFS brush chipping program and recently raised funds to install a dry hydrant in their community.