Evolving Risk in Public and Firefighter Safety

Build Fire-Permeable landscapes in the west

We need to build a fire permeable landscape in the west. We need to use fire to restore forest resiliency and to use zoning and building codes to reduce flammability of structures. For example, in ponderosa pine and mixed conifer, let wildfire do the work in remote landscapes, use controlled fire to reduce surface and ladder fuels near towns and finally do mechanical treatment in the backyards. Combine these approaches ...more »

Submitted by (@rfairbanks)

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Future #4 – Radical Change

Technological firefighting

Unmanned Aircraft Systems have taken over the skies. Cloud networks and 24/7 webcams and data collection even in remote areas has become the norm. Americans are increasingly tech-savyy and less physically fit or willing to engage in physical labor. As Americans live more in climate-controlled internal environments, and business is also more technologically dirven, outdoor recreation and humans steeping foot on public ...more »

Submitted by (@karenmiranda)

What changes to strategy, organizational structure, capabilities, & infrastructure would be needed? :

- need to hire more techno-geeks, and physical fitness/training will not be important

- fire suppression will be managed largely by UAS from indoor environments

- will decrease field and localized resource management positions in favor of larger-scale experts in managing watersheds and landscape resources, most likely combined with city planning type skills

- A new education/profession would need to develop which combines natural and technological resource management.

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"Wild Card" Issues

NPS Fire Ecologists Weigh in on the Essential Aspects of Fire Ecology

The attached essay underscores the importance of fire ecology professionals in an era of tightening budgets. We welcome your feedback in this forum!

Submitted by (@dianeabendroth)

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Evolving Risk in Public and Firefighter Safety

Fire Protection from the House out, rather than from the Wildland in

Research has clearly demonstrated that the most effective way to protect lives, property, and the natural environment from wildland fire is to focus directly on making communities more fire safe rather than spending millions of dollars clearing habitat far from assets at risk. This provides for long-term solutions rather than endlessly trying to modify the natural environment. Fuel treatments can provide some benefit, ...more »

Submitted by (@richardw.halsey)

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Changing Climatic Conditions Effects on Landscapes

Connecting the dots

With a changing climate, species shifts will occur in the next 20 years with high elevation species declining or disappearing; snowpack has been declining the past 20+ years which will affect water quantity and quality; cold temperature aquatic species, and recreation and tourism. Current vulnerabilities will be exacerbated- fire risk increasing; more extreme floods and droughts. These are well described and modeled in ...more »

Submitted by (@gwynmyer)

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Future #3 – Resilient Landscapes

Real Change is Possible

* Dept. of Education required the ecological benefits of fire to be part of the science core curriculum K – 12. * Universities added requirement to their undergraduate core curriculum that required credits in an environmental awareness or ecosystem management course that recognized fire’s role and benefits across our landscapes. * Corporations have adopted landscapes by funding and promoting positive ecological benefits ...more »

Submitted by (@iadtthmifm)

What changes to strategy, organizational structure, capabilities, & infrastructure would be needed? :

* Continued and increased support from engaged senior leadership who expect real time results to the fire issues in a meaningful way in all program areas, not just the fire program.

 

* Federal/State leaders use the allocation process to entice changes in rewarding positive behaviors towards goals. Current (federal) system has no incentive to reduce wildfire risk. Reduce risk = reduce budget. Currently there is no regard to investments or maintenance of functioning ecosystems or the accomplishment/leveraging of other stakeholders (other federal/state stakeholders, NGO, private lands) in federal fire allocation decisions.

 

* BAR projects should not be approved or funding allocated unless there is a long-term commitment from agency to match request or commitment to maintain work. Currently it appears that in most situations, once fire funding is expended, on-the-ground accomplishment or maintenance in that area ceases.

 

* EPA Senior Executive level officials actually engage and collaborate with those in USFS, DOI, and DHS (FEMA). It appears that EPA’s communication and rule making is only one-way - as it relates to EPA goals. EPA does not seem to care about solving wildfire problems facing our federal, state, tribal and private lands in a meaningful way. EPA needs to reconsider how their new rules will limit the expansion of prescribed fire.

 

* Develop and/or expand existing programs such as the USFS Integrated Resource Restoration or Collaborative Forest Landscape Restoration Program. It appears that DOI has no existing or similar program.

 

* Advocacy with our legislators (both federal and state) to change language to appropriation laws requiring all appropriations that are meant for on-the-ground accomplishment to report how accomplishment is meeting land resiliency goals (beyond fire). Fire cannot solve the fire problems alone.

 

* Begin purposeful communication with our legislators - help them understand the fire problem cannot be solved by federal/state agencies alone. Help them understand importance of incentives, such as federal and state (county) tax breaks, to engage private citizens, tribes, and municipalities in a meaningful way.

 

* Continue and expand work with insurance companies for private landowners and rural/volunteer fire departments that are proactive in community and fire resilience.

 

* Engage social science and education systems in a meaningful way to incorporate knowledge about wildland fire.

 

* Fire program (federal/state) needs to stop thinking that true collaboration is informing other fire programs of what they want to do. Fire needs to expand thinking by reaching out more to other internal and external stakeholders (outside the fire program) at a meaningful scale. We are never going to solve the fire problem if current trends continue.

 

* Federal decision makers need to ensure existing capabilities are maintained. It appears that once management reduces wildfire risk in a meaningful way (@ local/regional scale) funding is moved to areas that are not functioning well. This practice will leave our most current fire resilient landscapes vulnerable to future wildfires and a loss of significant investments.

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Future #2 – Super Fire Administration

Super Administration

A dysfunctional system of government that is divided along too many moral, economic and political agendas does not provide for a logical, systematic system of covering resource and fire management. The current system leads to chaos and inefficiency in dealing with the situation. This process continues to exacerbate the problem of escalating suppression which then leads to the development of more fire fighters at the ...more »

Submitted by (@jim.erickson)

What changes to strategy, organizational structure, capabilities, & infrastructure would be needed? :

Nothing, we are well on this course.

What information could help mitigate the risks presented by this future? :

Have Congress adopt the proposed suppression funding model being offered in numerous legislations.

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Technology and Program Infrastructure

ISR - Intelligence Surveillance and Reconnaissance

After 30 years of military service it has become increasingly evident that in aviation one of the greatest things we can provide to anyone fighting is known in the military as intelligence surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR). Taking that forward to fighting wildfires and the problems and difficulties are very similar. The fog of war is smoke and the dangers operating on the ground are often similar. Situational ...more »

Submitted by (@deanattridge)

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Technology and Program Infrastructure

Tech Transfer

We need to come up with a practical system of tech transfer from the federal research arena to our folks on the ground inside the fed and out (state, private, local government)

Submitted by (@jim.brenner)

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Future #1: Hot, Dry, and Out of Control

Awareness of the Fire Environment

- Gaps exist in knowledge of the fire environment risk, crew movements and communications strategy.

- There are perceived increased, significant weather events and convective changes.

- There seem to be stagnant development in situation awareness, placing fire fighters at risk.

Submitted by (@heath.hockenberry)

What information could help mitigate the risks presented by this future? :

- And answer to the question - exactly where are all the people on the fire, in real time?

- Direct communications and intelligence aimed at clarifying safety zones and escape routes.

- Real-time fire progression maps, related to approaching weather.

- Real-time fire detection, immediately communicated to fire managers and weather experts.

What information could help capitalize on opportunities presented by this future? :

- An ICS “Fire Environment” Section (IMET, FBAN, LTAN, GSAN), responsible for delivering fire environment products that take a more holistic view of the fire environment for short term briefings and incorporate resources and objectives in mid and long term planning.

- A National Fire Environment Center (analogous to the National Hurricane Center)

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"Wild Card" Issues

Re-frame the WUI fire disaster problem

Instead of using the old orthodoxy, re-frame the problem by focusing the 'susceptibility of structures to the inevitability of wildfire exposure'. Create an organization and funding model that is independent of current wildfire control model to implement this fundamental paradigm shift in how we as a nation address this problem. There are too many negative feedback loops in the current system that continue to perpetuate ...more »

Submitted by (@hhaynes)

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Changing Climatic Conditions Effects on Landscapes

Science and management have to learn together

Fast-moving climate change impacts mean that scientists can't necessarily be "ahead" of management in evaluating and advising adaptation actions. Fed. managers need to be active participants in scientific studies, and in making more critical observations. Time to break down the artifical separation between the fed research communities and the management community.

Submitted by (@abradley)

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