Wildfire Risk Reduction

What We Do:

The Wildfire Risk Reduction (WFRR) Program assists homeowners living in the Wildland-Urban Interface (WUI) in taking steps to reduce fuels (trees, brush, and other vegetation), while also promoting proper ecology and forest health, around their property that will help the property become safer and more resilient to wildfire. The WFRR program operates as a cost-share program with an awarded grant.

Who We Are:

The WFRR Program consists of four career staff supervisors and a team of approximately 8-14 Resident Firefighters (See our Resident Firefighters page).  The four career staff assist with the property assessment, bidding process, and project description for the work to be completed.  During day-to-day field operations, The Resident Firefighters consist of a Team Lead and Assistant Lead that will be on-site managing the project on day-to-day operations in the field, as well as managing the rest of the crew. WFRR Residents work Monday through Thursday.

Why is this program important?:

  1. Protect you and your home
  2. Protect your neighbors/neighborhood
  3. Protect firefighters and other first responders

What does the process look like?: A homeowner that is interested and in need of WFRR Program work can call MRFD Station 1 to express interest.  A member of the WFRR Program will reach out to the homeowner and set up a date/time to meet and walk the property.  While on the property, we will take pictures, discuss best practices, and how we can improve your property to become more resilient and defensible to wildfires, while maintaining an aesthetic nature, sustaining ecology and promoting forest health.  A team member will then create a Landowner Agreement Form, which includes a bid, that will need to be signed.  Once the landowner decides to move forward, a job prescription of the property will be created and the property will be placed in the queue for work to be completed.  Once the work on your property is completed, a WFRR Program member will return to the property to take “after” photos and complete a home assessment. Once completed, the property owner will be invoiced by Missoula Rural Fire District for their portion of the bid.

What does the Grant include?  What does it not include?

Projects that are completed under The Missoula County Wildfire Mitigation Grant/Program will be based on FIREWISE principles (hyperlinked)  and the Home Ignition Zone concept (hyperlinked).  Firewise landscaping limits the extent of vegetation and materials that are flammable, and which surround a home, sometimes extending 200-300 feet beyond the actual structure.  Also known as “fuel mitigation,” this work will ultimately reduce the risk of structure loss due to wildfire while increasing the ability to protect life and property when a wildfire does occur.

The technical aspect of this fuel mitigation work involves reducing the flammable vegetation in the three Home Ignition Zones.

Zone 1 (Immediate):  0-5 feet from structure

Zone 2 (Intermediate):  5 – 30 feet from structure

Zone 3 (Extended):  30 – 100+ feet from structure

Using this HIZ concept, each area around the structure would be evaluated based on fuel type, fuel density, stand health, topography, slope, and possible other factors that would increase radiant heat.

Zones 2 and 3 may be increased or decreased due to any one or combination of these factors.  Depending upon the zone, crews will remove brush, trees, and ladder fuels, and/or leave certain vegetation/trees to accomplish a mix of size and types of trees and foliage which fire science has proven to reduce disastrous fire activity.  Thinning to create appropriate tree crown spacing in Zones 2 and 3 will allow for fire to be “knocked down” from the tree canopies to ground level prior to reaching any structures, reducing radiant heat significantly, which will provide for a more defensible home in the event firefighters are called to protect your property.

Frequently Asked Questions:

Q: “I just have a few trees that I would like to be removed around my property, but do not want all of the additional work. Can you do that?”

A: Unfortunately, because this program is funded from a grant, we must adhere to the practices that are set forth in the grant.  We will look at the property as a whole and determine what reduction in fuels is necessary to increase the resiliency of the home, including brushing, limbing, and thinning of vegetation and trees.  There are instances where certain trees/vegetation can be requested to remain or be removed, due to aesthetic or ecology, but will be on a case-by-case basis.

Q: “How does a cost-share grant work?”

A: Once the bidding of the property is complete, the homeowner will be responsible for a portion (or percentage) of the total bid.  The grant funds will then be used to offset the remaining portion of the bid.  For example, in a 70/30 cost share on a $1,000 bid, the homeowner will be responsible for 30% ($300), while the grant will cover the other $700.

Q: “How do you determine the price of my quote?”

A: In general, the price will reflect the amount of hours worked that are needed to complete the project.  Factors that effect this are acreage, density, slope, and type of fuel.

Q: “What do you do with all the vegetation that is cut? Do you haul it away? Do you remove the stumps?”

A: Vegetation that is cut will either be piled to later burn (by the homeowner) during open burning season with the correct permit, or chipped in place and broadcasted back on to the forest floor to promote forest health. We do not haul away vegetation that has been cut. Trees that are cut will be “low-stumped”, leaving them roughly flush with the forest floor.

Q: “Why does that tree need to be cut? It looks healthy.”

A: Wildfire Risk Reduction work will result in some healthy trees being removed.  The majority of these will be younger trees in the stand, known as “re-gen”.  Based on the FIREWISE principles, the goal is to break up the continuity of fuels and open the crown spacing of more mature trees, improving the ability for a fire to be “knocked down”.

Q: “Do I need to be home while the work is being completed?”

A: No.  We request that you are available for the initial home assessment so we can help explain the work that should/need to be done, as well as any areas of concern that you may have.  Once that is complete, a “project prescription’ will be created that the crew will be able to reference for the following work to be completed.  Within the Landowner Agreement, there is a clause that states we can access your property in order to complete the work.


Below are some before and after photos of the work completed by our team last year:

Location 1 – Before


Location 1 – After


Location 2 – Before


Location 2 – After


Location 3 – Before


Location 3 – After


Location 4 – Before


Location 4 – After


Location 5 – Before


Location 5 – After