Evolving Risk in Public and Firefighter Safety

Re-think the Investment Strategy in the Firefighting Workforce

A different approach to investment in firefighting workforce is needed. Budget cuts are reducing the number and quality of the on-the-ground firefighting workforce. Budget cuts always seem to land at the field more than at the national level. Continued and increased investment in the firefighting workforce is necessary in order to maintain capacity to respond to wildfire as well as mitigate fire hazards. Declining ...more »

Submitted by (@gamlam1107)

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

We're here already

Our current trend carries us to this future. Indeed, we are already here in many respects. No additional events or shocks are needed, especially if the current political gridlock continues. The main things I see that would be different is the shear number of species listed under the Endangered Species Act due to major vegetation changes brought by climate change and human population growth. I would not be surprised ...more »

Submitted by (@lulu10)

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

In rangelands, much better understanding of how natural events, such as defoliator outbreaks and fire, shape plant community composition and structure. In all ecosystems, a much greater willingness to experiment with radically different approaches to land management that draws on so-called traditional ecological knowledge and includes bet-hedging strategies to address the potential impacts of climate change on pant communities, fuel beds, and fire regimes. Improvements to climate predictions and downscaling of such projections to scales that better allow managers to conduct more realistic impact analyses should continue.

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

Generally, the same types of information that would help us mitigate the risks are likely to present us with opportunities we could capitalize on, provided political gridlock doesn't wreck everything first.

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Evolving Risk in Public and Firefighter Safety

Critical Site Universal Blueprint

Interface Dwellers and Fire Fighters should understand how to strategically position all critical sites, where 1. All vegetation is converted to a shaded fuel break 200' around that which is to be protected. Trees thinned to have 25' space between crowns; pruned of ladder fuels up 12 feet high. 2. That there be 3 permanent circular control lines. First one 6 to 10 feet completely around structure. 2nd control line two ...more »

Submitted by (@troop.dragonslayers)

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Evolving Risk in Public and Firefighter Safety

WUI risk for all will just get bigger & worse unless land use planning changes

WUI, and exurban intermix areas will keep expanding as populations grow. Firefighters will protect lives and property in communities that haven't been built yet. Citizens and their local governments will determine (actively or by default) where and how fire safe they will be. Current research (cafiresci.org/wui) suggests specific ways to locate, plan, and construct new communities in order to reduce their exposure to ...more »

Submitted by (@robertstaylor)

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"Wild Card" Issues

Forest Plant Communities have different fire needs

Mixed Sierran Conifer forest has understory shrubs in healthy condition. Jeffrey Pine forest understory is dominated by grasses and annual forbs. Douglas Fir forests have dense understories of shrubs. Many shrubs and all annuals and many perennials are obligate seeders, not crown resprouters, and can be extirpated by frequent ground fires. In short, the relationship of fire to these different healthy forests is different, ...more »

Submitted by (@kaytaff)

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Changing Climatic Conditions Effects on Landscapes

Landscape Heterogeneity

What should be avoided is creating large patches of homogenous forest structure simply to affect fire behavior. The attractiveness of mechanical treatments followed by burn treatments as a rapid means of achieving forest restoration goals is tempered somewhat by tradeoffs in effects, as the combination treatment tends to increase cover of exotics and decrease cover of coarse woody debris, which offers key habitat for ...more »

Submitted by (@egarza)

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6 votes
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"Wild Card" Issues

Control Future WUI Development

In the West, 84% of the WUI is yet undeveloped, the housing market has picked up once more, and with climate change as an accelerator, there is an urgent need to find solutions that impact the pattern, scale, and pace of future development in the WUI. It will be difficult to control the rising costs, damages, and dangers related to home development in the WUI unless there are negative financial consequences for private ...more »

Submitted by (@ray000)

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Future #4 – Radical Change

Tribal Management of Federal Lands

Tribes possess thousands of years of truly adaptive management as demonstrated on their lands. Fire was taken away as their primary tool about 150 years ago, yet they have adapted and continue to do so. Tools like timber harvest have been adapted to provide some of the effects that fire once provided. Tribes continue to adapt and provide some of the best examples of resilient landscapes.

Submitted by (@jim.erickson)

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

Congress should pass legislation providing Tribes and states with the authority to assume local management of Forest Service and BLM lands over extended time frames to demonstrate spun, sustainable ecosystem management.

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

Global Climate Shift, Fuels, and Humans

The trend has been a gradual shift or multiple variables gradually changing over time, but the climate and what we view in our surroundings work like a balanced beam. Everything in the natural world is a balance that is counteracted by something else. Because humans are such powerful and advanced organisms we are able to change that balance more drastically than any other organism. Once the balance starts to go one direction ...more »

Submitted by (@wmccrady)

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

More information on how the climate is changing and better publication of that data. There should never be an argument that the scientific community as a whole is wrong, that is a ridiculous notion with no basis in reality.

Better development and use of already existing technology that can be used to improve safety and efficiency of fire suppression.

Politicians, law makers, and the public will listen to public servants and firefighters, so we need to know what we are talking about.

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

A change in temperature is not scary or enough motivation to make people change their activities. But the change in extreme weather events, climate events, and wildfire is enough to get their attention. We can use the facts to show what has changed and what will change so that the public will have an interest in changing as well.

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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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Evolving Risk in Public and Firefighter Safety

We need a Paradigm Shift: Prepare, Stay, and Defend as a viable option

The challenge of increased wildland fires impacting human communities requires a dramatic paradigm shift in how wildland urban interface (WUI) residents are viewed and what is expected of them. The failed paradigm of WUI residents as helpless victims of fire must be completely banished. In the new paradigm, WUI residents will be highly pro-active participants in protecting their homes and their lives. All WUI residents ...more »

Submitted by (@julierogers03)

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