The Smokey Bear Story

Map of Ellwood Oil Fields Damaged by Japanese Shelling Off California Coast

Ellwood Oil Fields Where Japanese Submarines Attacked in 1942

During World War II, Japanese submarines off of the Santa Barbara Coast fired shells making an oil field explode near the Los Padres National Forest. This created a fear in Americans. People were concerned that wildfire could be used as a war tactic in the forests off of the Pacific Coast. The Cooperative Forest Fire Prevention (CFFP) program was created to bring light to wildfire prevention by reducing the number of human caused fires. Eventually, this program led to the creation of Smokey Bear as an influential wildfire prevention icon. Smokey is now recognized by 96% of adults – a recognition rate that is comparable to that of the President and Mickey Mouse!

Smokey Bear’s Involvement With Wildfire Prevention

Wildfire Prevention Poster With Animals From Disney Movie Bambi

Original CFFP Bambi Wildfire Prevention Poster

In 1944, the CFFP program decided to use Bambi characters as symbols for fire prevention on a poster. Using the Disney animals as symbols for wildfire prevention was successful, so the U.S. Forest Service authorized CFFP to create its own animal symbol – Smokey Bear. Smokey’s first appearance was on a wildfire prevention poster in 1944. Initially, his catch phrase was “Smokey says – Care Will Prevent 9 out of 10 Forest Fires.” Then, his slogan changed to “Remember… Only YOU Can Prevent Forest Fires” in 1947. By 1952, Smokey Bear was attracting commercial interest, so an Act of Congress removed him from public domain and placed him under the Secretary of Agriculture. The fees and royalties collected for the use of Smokey Bear are used for wildfire prevention education. Currently, Smokey’s catch phrase is, “Only YOU Can Prevent Wildfires.”

The Smokey Bear Mascot

In 1950, a young bear cub sought refuge in a tree during a fire in the Capitan Mountains in New Mexico. He was burned badly, so firefighters saved him. The bear cub’s touching story earned him the name ‘Smokey.’ The bear cub’s moving story gained a permanent home at the National Zoo in Washington, D.C. He became the living symbol of Smokey Bear. Unfortunately, he passed away in 1976. Smokey was buried in State Historical Park in Capitan, New Mexico. Now, the park is named Smokey Bear Historical Park after his legacy.

Sign in Smokey Bear Historical Park Noting the Location Where Smokey Bear Was Found

Smokey Bear Historical Park Where the Smokey Bear Mascot Was Found

Smokey Bear Fun Facts

• His name is Smokey Bear, not Smokey the Bear. This naming confusion came from a song written as an ode to Smokey, and the songwriters added ‘the’ to improve the rhythm.

• Smokey receives so many letters that he even has his own zip code – the President is the only other individual with his own zip code. Anyone can send a letter to Smokey Bear at “Smokey Bear, Washington, DC 20252.”

• He is a Disney Star! Smokey made an appearance in a Walt Disney movie In the Bag.

• Smokey Bear has a Twitter @smokey_bear


helo wildfire

Wildfire 101: Modern Warning Systems

In the United States, effective systems are in place to help us plan for, respond to, evacuate from, and cope with dangerous and difficult emergency events.  Traditionally in the late twentieth century, mass media (television and radio) were relied upon to inform the general public of impending or ongoing dangerous situations. Previously, older technology like sirens were utilized for warning of impending situations, especially severe weather. While all are still prevalent today, much of the public were left uniformed if not within nearby proximity to one of these alert platforms. Today we have many more options at our disposal.

Modern Warning Systems

In June 2006, following criticism over the government’s response to Hurricane Katrina, President George W. Bush signed Executive Order 13407, ordering the Secretary of Homeland Security to establish a new program to integrate and modernize the nation’s existing population warning systems. Installment began on a nationwide system now known as the Integrated Public Alert and Warning System, or IPAWS.  IPAWS is an alert and warning infrastructure that allows Federal, State, and local authorities to alert and warn the public about serious emergencies using the Emergency Alert System (EAS), Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA), and other public alerting systems from a single interface.

EAS is used to send emergency messages through cable, broadcast, and satellite television, as well as landline phone recordings. WEA refers to messages, similar to text messages, which appear as a notification to your mobile phone. They are sent by an authorized government authority through your mobile provider. Registration is not required for the national alerts through IPAWS, but a compatible phone and provider are required. The message contains information such as the type of alert, the time of the alert, the issuing agency, and any steps the recipient should take. The types of alerts include AMBER alerts for child abductions, extreme weather alerts, Presidential alerts during a national emergency, or other threatening emergencies in your area. Who receives the alerts is based on connectivity to the affected area’s cellular towers, so the alert is determined by the current location of the cellular device and not the address of the wireless phone owner. Of course, the benefit of this is if you are away from home and an emergency occurs in the area you are visiting, you will still receive the alert through the local cellular tower.

Reverse 911 sends a warning to the public of emergency situations

Reverse 911 is widely used for local emergency situations to be broadcast to email, home, and mobile phones

Other Alert Systems

Many local government agencies have additional alert services that offer greater detail to local emergencies through recorded messages, text alerts, or emails. In order to take full advantage, make sure to check local emergency services options (such as Reverse 911). Often, a registration process is required before you will receive the alerts. Similarly, other modern alert systems allow for notifications of other local emergency situations that also could prompt action.  A few examples:

  • PulsePoint is a mobile application which connects the local dispatch system with CPR-trained bystanders (and the location of the closest AED) regarding a nearby cardiac emergency event… effectively enabling “citizen superheroes.”
  • Google’s ‘Waze’ mobile app is a social-mapping-based means of reporting real-time accidents and traffic alerts.
  • The Incident Paging Network has also proven to be a useful tool for being alerted regionally within the network for a wide range of event types.
  • Here at RedZone we especially appreciate the advent of public alert and advance warning regarding an impending or ongoing disaster. Our RZAlerts are built on the success of this premise.


Smoke Column

Wildfire Outlook: October 2019 – January 2020

Below are summaries from the National Significant Wildland Fire Potential Outlook, provided by the National Interagency Fire Center, for the period of October 2019 through January 2020. The full outlook can be located here which will give more in depth picture of US fire weather projection.
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Autumn and Santa Ana Winds

Fall Means Santa Ana Winds

Annually, the onset of the fall and winter seasons brings the highest chance for Southern California’s famed Santa Ana winds. Historically, the worst fires in Southern California in terms of speed of growth and destruction are linked to these hot, dry wind events. The last two years, a strong and persistent Santa Ana event was a major player in the spread of both 2017’s Thomas fire in Ventura and Santa Barbara and last year’s Woolsey Fire in Malibu. 

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Smoke Column

Wildfire Outlook: August – November

Below are exerts from the National Significant Wildland Fire Potential Outlook, provided by the National Interagency Fire Center, for the period of August through November. The full outlook can be located here which will give more insight from a region by region perspective.

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How do wildfires get their names?

Ever notice that wildfires seem to have generic names like the Valley Fire or seemingly random names like the Waldo Fire and wonder where wildfires get their names? Here at RedZone we took a look what the standards are for the wildfire naming criteria and the top names used historically in our wildfire database.

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Smoke Column

National Significant Wildland Fire Potential Outlook: July – October

Below are exerts from the National Significant Wildland Fire Potential Outlook, provided by the National Interagency Fire Center, for the period of June through October. The full outlook can be located here which will give more insight from a region by region perspective.

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GIS and the Fire Service

With the duties assigned to fire agencies becoming more daunting as the population continues to grow, and climatic conditions favor worse fire behavior, the service has adopted GIS as a means to combat these ever changing factors. In this blog, I briefly touch on some of the aspect that GIS software programs have been implemented in the fire service to help mitigate some of the issues related to the disasters they face on a daily basis.

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Smoke Column

Wildland Fire Potential Outlook: June – September

Below is the synopsis for Significant Wildland Fire Potential for June through September. The full outlook can be located here which will give more insight from a region by region perspective.

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Smoke Column

Wildland Fire Potential Outlook: May, June, July, and August

Below is the synopsis for each geographic region that is referenced in terms of Significant Wildland Fire Potential. The full outlook can be located here which will give more insight into the statements that you see below.

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