California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CAL FIRE) fights more than 5,600 wildfires that plague California annually. CAL FIRE has a new weapon in its arsenal to help prepare the public for when the next wildfire strikes: a new mobile app called CAL FIRE Ready for Wildfire. The app is currently available on both the iPhone and Android platforms. [Editor's Note: Rich Foreman is the CEO of Apptology, the developer of CAL FIRE Ready for Wildfire.]
The app has three primary functions:
- Providing educational content on how to prepare for and help protect property from wildfires
- Notifying citizens of wildfire incidents with custom alerts
- Providing incident information and maps on California wildfires
The main purpose of the app is to help educate residents and property owners in high-risk wildland areas on how to prepare for wildfires. The app has a series of checklists as follows:
- Ready (Maintain Defensible Space and Hardening Homes)
- Create defensible space
- Harden home
- Prepare for bark beetles
- Set (Create a Wildfire Action Plan)
- Wildfire action plan
- Emergency supply kit
- Design a family communication plan
- Go! (Evacuation Guide)
- Pre-evacuation guide
- When to evacuate
- What to do when trapped
The app has nine separate check-off lists that also provide educational material in the form of articles and videos. The videos can be viewed as part of the checklist or in the video library.
The user can sign up to receive custom wildfire alerts for a physical address and/or for the user’s device location. The user also can opt-in for push notifications and/or SMS messages for wildfires that are reported in selected California counties, or within 30 miles of the user’s device, using location services.
Push Notifications require the user to have the app. The push notifications are generated using integration with Urban Airship.
The user can also opt to receive text messages about latest wildfires. The advantage of using this option is that the user doesn’t need the app to receive the notification. The SMS messages are generated through integration with Twilio.
Basic information from CAL FIRE can also be found on the app. The app has embedded CAL FIRE’s mobile website for incident information, and there’s a feed from CAL FIRE’s Twitter account. In addition, there’s a Statewide Fire Google Map that displays all the active wildfires in California.
CAL FIRE launched a campaign to promote the app that directs residents to this resource as tool to prepare their defensible space in advance of the 2017 wildfire season. The campaign also includes an incentive for user downloads through an App Sweepstakes that is available now through May 21, 2017. The sweepstakes offers users a chance to win a home hardening prize package. The sweepstakes is co-sponsored by Apptology and iHeartRadio. No state funds are used for promotion or prizes. The CAL FIRE app was developed by Apptology as a contractor to CAL FIRE’s marketing agency, Sagent.
For more information on the Ready For Wildfire Campaign, visit www.readyforwildfire.org