laurenbackstrom

Sharing wildfire expertise – from continent to continent

Blog Post created by laurenbackstrom Employee on Apr 11, 2012

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Wildfire professionals attending the FireSmart training launch in Canada

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Field trip during the European Forest Fire Network workshop in Northumberland, England

Our division staff typically refers to this time of year as “conference season” because it is chockfull of more opportunities to travel, present, and attends conferences and workshops than can be fulfilled.  And this spring was no exception.  The unique and exciting bit for me, however, was that this year’s conference season also brought a few new and unique international opportunities. 

On one end of the spectrum, I participated in a European Forest Fire Network (EUFOFINET) workshop in northern England.  The workshop was hosted by the Northumberland Fire and Rescue Services and was part of an ongoing series of workshops hosted by various countries throughout the EU.  More than 50 delegates were present, including myself.  Although this workshop’s theme was organized around wildfire suppression activities, my talk was anything but focused on wildfire suppression (in fact, quite the opposite, since I shared the U.S. perspective on wildfire mitigation programs).  The workshop proved to be a tremendous opportunity to learn about the wildfire risks facing our European colleagues.  It was also a good reminder that the U.S. has relevant information to share regarding lessons from our wildland-urban interface. 

Following my trip overseas, I headed up to British Columbia to participate in Canada’s first FireSmart Communities launch (think Firewise Communities/USA, only in Canada).  Kudos to Partners in Protection for pulling off an excellent training session!  There were over 80 participants from various provinces for the 2-day workshop.  Topics covered all things FireSmart – from the FireSmart landscaping principles in the different priority zones to the nuts and bolts of the new FireSmart application process. 

And a big thanks to all of the Firewise staff who have contributed to this ongoing effort since the implementation of our MOU with Partners in Protection last March.  Their expertise was essential in transferring important tools and resources. It was a huge accomplishment on all fronts, and I’m excited to see Canada moving full steam ahead with a community recognition process based on success of the Firewise program. 

Although this year’s conference season isn’t over yet (next stop: Los Angeles, and then Seattle), I have a feeling of fulfillment from meeting new colleagues and seeing the birth of FireSmart communities.  Now I just need to remind myself which time zone I’m in… 

-Molly Mowery

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