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Nearly 70,000 U.S. Communities at Risk as Wildfire Season Approaches 

WASHINGTON, DC, June 25, 2013 — As wildfires burn across the western United States, the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) and Ad Council launch new public service ads (PSAs) targeting homeowners and community members in fire-prone areas. The new PSAs represent the continuation of the Fire Adapted Communities initiative which raises awareness about the threat of wildfire and helps individuals and communities mitigate wildfire damage.

Nearly 70,000 communities nationwide are at risk from wildfire, according to the National Association of State Foresters. For the last 12 years an average of 6.9 million acres burned each year. Wildfires put lives at risk and cost government, businesses and individuals billions of dollars each year in suppression costs and damage to homes, infrastructure, the economy and resources.

“Homes and communities don’t have to burn. There are proven tools and programs to help communities to adapt to wildfire and successfully live with fire in the environment,” said U. S. Forest Service Fire Adapted Communities program manager Pam Leschak. “Everyone has a part in helping to keep their community safe.”

A single ember that escapes from a wildfire can travel over a mile. New PSAs created pro bono by Draftfcb highlight the risk these embers pose to homes, structures and communities and remind audiences that you can’t control where an ember will land, but you can control what happens when it does. Community members are encouraged to take simple, proactive steps to protect their families and neighbors by preparing in advance and addressing the wildfire hazards around their homes and in their communities.

“The Fire Adapted Communities initiative remains a hugely important mission and we’re always ready to help in getting the word out,” said Eric Springer, CCO of Draftfcb O.C./L.A. “Our latest campaign will draw people in and make them realize there are plenty of simple solutions to saving their homes and communities from the risk of wildfires. It’s always the small choices that have major impact.”

Communities can adapt to wildfire by collaboratively developing and implementing a Community Wildfire Protection Plan, creating defensible space around buildings, treating fuels in and near the community, using fire resistant building materials, designating safe zones, avoiding development in the highest risk areas and working with local first responders. The new PSAs highlight the importance of defensible space and the hazards around a home, reminding viewers that the key to reducing wildfire damage is taking the right actions to prepare in advance.

The TV, radio, print, outdoor and Web PSAs direct audiences to www.FireAdapted.org where they can find a host of information and resources to help them prepare for the threat of wildfire.

“In the second year of the Fire Adapted Communities campaign, we wanted to hone in on the role individual citizens can play in keeping their communities safe,” said Peggy Conlon, president and CEO of the Ad Council. “By proactively preparing homes, businesses and neighborhoods, community members can mitigate the potentially devastating effects of wildfire and avoid overtaxing local fire departments and emergency personnel.”

The Ad Council has partnered with the U.S. Forest Service and Draftfcb for more than 69 years to address the issue of wildfire prevention through the iconic character Smokey Bear and his famous “Only You Can Prevent Wildfires” tagline. The Ad Council and the U.S. Forest Service partnered again in 2009 for the Discover the Forest campaign encouraging families to reconnect with nature.

The new Fire Adapted Communities PSAs will be distributed to media outlets nationwide this week. Per the Ad Council model, the PSAs will air and run in advertising time and space that is donated by the media.

U.S. Forest Service
The U.S. Forest Service (www.fs.fed.us) manages 193 million acres of national forests and grasslands for the American Public. Its mission is to sustain the health, diversity, and productivity of the Nation’s forests and grasslands to meet the needs of present and future generations. The U.S. Forest Service is the agency responsible for overseeing the use of Smokey Bear in cooperation with the National Association of State Foresters and The Advertising Council. The Wildfire Prevention campaign, featuring Smokey Bear, is the longest running PSA campaign in U.S. history.

The Advertising Council
The Ad Council is a private, non-profit organization with a rich history of marshaling volunteer talent from the advertising and media industries to deliver critical messages to the American public. Having produced literally thousands of PSA campaigns addressing the most pressing social issues of the day, the Ad Council has affected, and continues to affect, tremendous positive change by raising awareness, inspiring action and saving lives. For more information, please visit www.adcouncil.org. You can also visit www.facebook.com/adcouncil or follow the Ad Council on Twitter @AdCouncil.

About Draftfcb
With an equal focus on creativity and accountability, Draftfcb is committed to producing brilliant ideas that change consumer behavior. As a global, fully integrated marketing communications agency operating against a single P&L, Draftfcb provides clients with highly collaborative, channel-neutral thinking that delivers engagement and, most importantly, action. With nearly 140 years of combined expertise, Draftfcb has roots in both consumer advertising and behavioral, data-driven direct marketing. The Draftfcb network spans 151 offices in 90 countries and employs nearly 8,600 people. The agency is part of the Interpublic Group of Companies (NYSE:IPG). For more information, visit www.draftfcb.com.

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