USA — The State of Rhode Island has a total of 1,214 square miles, or776,960 acres. What does this have to do with the wildland-urban interface?
It helps to put into perspective that the 9.1 million U.S. acres lost towildfire in 2006 encompass a landmass more than 10 times the size of RhodeIsland. With federal firefighting costs of more than $1.5 billion in 2006 andthe unacceptable loss of precious firefighters lives, what can we do to make2007 and future years less destructive?
In the long term, there are countless strategiessome new and some fullydevelopedthat we need to embrace. Recognizing the trend toward an expandingwildland-urban interface and the need to work with, not against, communityplanners and developers is essential. Collaboratively, we can improve access andimplement plans to reduce the dangerous fuel loads that exacerbate wildfire.
Increased and ongoing public education targeting property owners is alsoessential. We will simply never have the resources needed to regulate a solution.Landowners must be educated, encouraged and empowered to share responsibilityfor their own safety.
Supporting interoperability and mutual aid pacts that enhance resourcecoordination of multiple responders is also critical. Great efficiencies will begained through better coordination and preplanning. In addition, enhancedinteroperability will substantially improve fire ground safety.
In the short term, there is one key action we can take to help minimize thedestructive impact of fire in the wildland-urban interface. We can mark ourcalendars for March 6-8 and make plans to attend the IAFCs Wildland UrbanInterface: New Fire Frontiers Conference in Reno, Nevada.
Responding to suggestions from last years attendees, this yearsconference is designed to address a number of needs, including NWCG and NIMScertification, specifically several outstanding preconference choices for thosewho serve as task force/strike team leaders or logistics section chiefs or areotherwise charged with making tactical decisions.
Those who enjoy looking to the future will particularly appreciate theconferences technology focus. The WUI 2007 Expo will include several vendorsdisplaying and demonstrating the latest technologies and innovations in wildlandfirefighting.
Of particular interest will be a weather simulation chamber and GIS mappingtools. In addition, the U.S. Forest Service will be demonstrating their latestAVL-based aircraft tracking software.
Those seeking information about the products and services that will beavailable at the WUI 2007 Expo or simply wanting a preview can visit www.iafc.org/wuiand click on “Interactive Expo.”
If you would like to be better prepared for the 2007 wildfire season, setaside March 6-8 to network, become better informed and learn about a number ofnew tools and technologies that will improve the effectiveness of firefightingin the wildland-urban interface.