In the 2018 Consolidated Appropriations Act (H.R. 1625, Section 210), Congress directed the Forest Service to produce a nationwide map that could inform communities about wildfire risk, help them understand their risk profile, and guide them toward steps to reduce their risk. Wildfire Risk to Communities is the Forest Service response to that direction.
As wildfires increase in frequency and severity across the country, Wildfire Risk to Communities is designed to inform the public about wildfire risk and to connect communities with resources to mitigate risk. It includes interactive maps and charts of risk to homes, wildfire exposure types, and wildfire likelihood. This information can help community leaders such as elected officials, community planners, and fire managers understand how risk varies across a state, region, or county and prioritize actions to mitigate risk.
Many of the datasets powering the website were developed by RMRS, in collaboration with private partners. Nationwide modeling data output from the large fire simulation system, FSim, provided critical information on the possible occurrence and intensities of wildfire. This wildfire modeling data was then overlaid on U.S. Census data, which were used to define community locations.
In April 2021, Wildfire Risk to Communities was updated to include additional features. Expanded areas show risk in populated areas outside official community boundaries. Community risk can now be compared to other communities in the county, state, or nation. Users can also download GIS data layers about wildfire, housing and population and search dozens of partner programs to find solutions to reduce wildfire risk.
Wildfire Risk to Communities is designed so that anyone can access the data. No technical or mapping skills are required, making the website useful for a diverse set of users. Wildfire Risk to Communities is best used for considering risk across a community rather than at the neighborhood or individual home scale.