Korea to lead forest fire control in Asia

Korea to lead forest fire control in Asia

07 October 2015

published by www.koreatimes.co.kr

Republic of Korea– “I will do my best to turn Korea into a leader in Asia’s efforts to control increasingly frequent forest fires,” Korea Forest Service (KFS) Minster Shin Won-sop said, indicating his goal for the remainder of his term.

In an interview with The Korea Times, Shin said the KFS has made all the necessary preparations to host more than 3,000 government officials, forest industry experts and scholars from nearly 80 countries during the 6th International Wildland Fire Conference (IWFC) in PyeongChang, Gangwon Province, from Oct. 12 to 16.

Korea is the first Asian nation to hold the international gathering of people involved in forestry, disaster prevention and firefighting sectors. The event, which started in 1989, takes place every four years.

Under the theme of “Fire of the Past, Fire in Future,” KFS will organize five plenary and nine parallel sessions during the conference. A variety of programs including exhibitions, field demonstrations, trips and cultural performances are expected to spur a great deal of interest among participants.

“The IWFC has been a venue for countries to boost cooperation on forest and other types of wild-land fire control by sharing their expertise, knowhow and knowledge,” Shin said. “We are glad that Korea became the first Asian nation to host this meaningful global event. We are ready to welcome our colleagues from all over the world.”

The 6th IWFC will feature a wide range of programs, including speeches from renowned scholars and policymakers, and seminars.

The KFS will showcase a fire control demonstration by mobilizing more than 15 helicopters and 300 firefighters on Oct. 14. The participants will also be given a chance to visit forest areas, which have been restored after a massive fire 20 years ago.

“The KFS would like to play a central role in strengthening the international firefighting network,” Shin said.

“As the first Asian IWFC host, we want to become a leader in the region’s increasing efforts to control wild-land fire. Throughout next week’s gathering, we will showcase our advanced forest management knowhow and forest fire control techniques,” he said.

Shin said the agency will make more efforts to expand cooperation with its counterparts in other Asian nations. “We would like to help developing countries train firefighters and more effectively manage forest resources to prevent fire.”

Korea suffered a massive fire in Gangwon Province in 2000, losing 237 square kilometers of forested areas. The country also struggled with several more large-scale forest fires over the past two decades.

“Through these painful events, we learned that it is crucial to have an effective forest fire prevention system in place,” the minister said. “We have invested significantly to train firefighters, purchase advanced fire control equipment and set up an effective control system,” Shin said. “KFS also established a central forest fire monitoring system and has more than 20,000 fire spotters across the country.”

The minister expected many developing countries will benchmark the KFS and adopt its advanced knowhow and knowledge in the field.

“We will make the best use of the upcoming IWFC event to share our expertise with other countries,” he said.USAA members now can save money on their homeowners insurance premiums by living within the boundaries of a recognized Firewise Communities/USA® program. Currently, the discounts are available to eligible members in California, Colorado and Texas, three states prone to wildfire activity.

“Wildfire season is well underway, and we want to educate the public and our members on ways to prepare for a wildfire,” says Jim Salek, vice president of underwriting programs and loss prevention at USAA. “It is important that individual homeowners take action to reduce the risks of wildfires. However, this is a team effort, and an entire community can benefit when it gets behind fire prevention efforts. We hope the Firewise discount gives communities the incentive to take action.”

USAA was the first major national insurance provider to offer such discounts to members living in Firewise Communities and has teamed up with Firewise to determine if a home is located in a recognized community. The discount is then automatically applied to USAA members who live in that community*. The Firewise website has a list of the recognized communities and information on how to take action to get communities started on the recognition process.

While the program is currently limited, USAA intends to pursue this discount for its members living in other states with significant wildfire risks. As of June 30, the discount is automatically applied only to new homeowners policies and rental property insurance policies, for those who own and rent out property, issued or renewed in California, Colorado and Texas.

USAA also has expanded its direct efforts to help members threatened by an active wildfire. In 14 wildfire-prone states, USAA offers all eligible members enrollment in the Wildfire Response Program. The program, conducted with Wildfire Defense Systems, an association of professional wild land firefighters, attempts to help eligible members protect their homes in the event of an active wildfire. WDS monitors wildfire activity and, working with the onsite incident commander, takes proactive measures, when feasible, to help protect a member’s home, such as closing windows and doors, clearing debris and moving other flammable materials away from the home.

USAA offers other wildfire-related products and services to its members, including:

  • A property risk assessment tool on usaa.com, which allows members to input their address to see if their home is at risk for wildfire or storm surge and tells them how they can reduce the risk of damage.
  • WDSPro App, a free app that gives tips and advice on how to reduce wildfire risk and helps homeowners complete a property wildfire assessment in less than 20 minutes. On-screen directions cue users to take photos around the outside of their home to capture key information about their property and surroundings. The information and photos are submitted to a professional fire risk analyst for recommendations on how to better protect the home against wildfires.

– See more at: http://globenewswire.com/news-release/2015/10/06/773846/10151808/en/USAA-Offers-Insurance-Discounts-for-Living-in-Firewise-Communities.html#sthash.L60dHW41.dpuf

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