Fire and forestry professionals for state and local governments can learn how to prevent wildfires through a new course offered by the Quincy, Mass.-based National Fire Protection Association's Firewise Communities program. The course, "Conducting a Community Assessment in the Wildland/Urban Interface: Beginning the Firewise Process," explains how to educate residents of fire-prone areas about preventing conflagrations before they start.

The free online course is organized into eight lessons that describe a methodology for conducting community wildfire hazard assessments. It examines how homes ignite during wildfires, how simple actions can reduce home ignitions and how changing community behavior can protect homes and communities. "Course participants can use what they learn to provide a community-wide wildfire hazard assessment for neighborhoods, [which is] one of the beginning steps for areas to become recognized as Firewise Communities/USA sites," said Firewise Communities Support Manager Michele Steinberg in a statement.

Audio narration, video clips, photos and animated graphics aim to make the course friendly and accessible. Additional resources include a community assessment template and links to case studies, articles and relevant Firewise products.

The National Wildfire Coordinating Group, a consortium of federal agencies, sponsors the Firewise Communities program. To enroll in any of the Firewise Learning Center courses, visit www.firewise.org and click on "Learning Center" on the top menu bar.