Sticker Shock:  The “hidden” costs of wildfire — and who gets stuck with the tab

Blog Post created by lisamariesinatra Employee on Jan 7, 2013

Every year, the USDA Forest Service spends an extraordinary amount of money fighting wildfires. The budget for these activities in 2012 was nearly $2 billion dollars, the bulk of which went to fire suppression costs — aviation, engines, firefighting crews, agency personnel, and more — to protect threatened communities, people and property. Soon, the federal government will announce its 2013 budget for wildfire management activities, and the price tag, no doubt, won't be any less than it was last year.

According to Molly Mowery in her latest Wildfire Watch column in the January/February 2013 issue of NFPA Journal, one of the problems associated with this very large number is that it’s often interpreted as the “cost” of wildfire, when in fact it’s more like the tip of the iceberg of what wildfire actually costs.

In an era that strives to be more fiscally responsible, Molly says decision makers must understand that costly wildfire disasters and long-term budget draining recoveries can be pre-empted by effective planning and pre-fire measures.

Read the full article (and check out Molly's video below) to learn more about these costs, and why knowing the true amount can ultimately help wildfire prevention efforts across the country.