As the NFPA Firewise Advisor for the Northwest, I was honored to participate in a recent meeting in Missoula, Montana with a group of Russian delegates who were visiting the U.S. as part of a multi-agency initiative, established by the USDA, and with support of the U.S. State Department, UDFS International Programs, Pacific Environment and the Wildlife Conservation Society, and other grassroots organizations in Russia. The initiative is aimed at improving the estimation of black carbon emission and transport from burning sources, and to facilitate technical cooperation and exchange between the U.S. and Russia to improve management of wildfire and agricultural burning.
As a part of the program, pilot projects are being implemented and aimed at reducing agricultural burning and wildfires in specific areas of Russia including Siberia and the Russian Far East. These pilots are working to develop and utilize public outreach and education tools, to establish mobile fire brigades, and improve the enforcement of burning regulations. Working on behalf of NFPA and Firewise, I provided them with information about some of the work we do here at NFPA including our wildfire standards, our Firewise Communities Program, the Fire Adapted Communities initiative and IAFC’s Ready, Set, Go program.
Our discussions continued to confirm the fact that wildfire is a problem across the globe. Russia has many of the wildfire challenges we face, and are often based on location, demographics and culture. The delegation told us that many people in Russia continue to remove vegetation by fire to create farmland; they do this because there is no cost to the farmer. The U.S. has similar problems in agricultural communities where farmer’s burn fields after harvest and often these fires escape. Russia also faces similar challenges in regards to the limited resources and shrinking crews available to combat fires.
As our discussions turned to issues of wildfire safety, forest health, forest management, funding and reforestation, it really brought home for me the importance of continuing an open dialogue between high-risk wildfire countries, in addition to our continuing to find ways to develop new technology and incorporate it into wildfire safety practices.
NFPA is hard at work collaborating with international organizations to share best practices and lessons learned about wildfire and related safety practices. Read more about NFPA’s global partnerships and our outreach efforts in Molly Mowery’s blog, in her feature article, “World of Opportunity” in NFPA Journal’s special wildland fire issue , and on our “Firewise Around the World” page on the Firewise website.