The March/April NFPA Journal is out and in its latest WildfireWatch column, I reflect on what we can learn from international outreach. A 31,000-acre wildfire in early January that forced evacuations and caused home loss northeast of Adelaide, Australia, brought the global impact and lessons of wildfire into focus.
For some backstory, I had the opportunity in December, 2014, to meet with staff of Kishugu/Firewise South Africa, who worked with NFPA in the mid-2000’s on community wildfire preparedness and adopted the Firewise® Communities model as a best-practice tool. Areas south of Cape Town just endured a major wildfire and the similarities to fires in America provide us with mirrored lessons on WUI development and residential risk.
There is an often-raised concern over “Americanizing” the wildfire issue, and the risk of improperly viewing international connections as simply an avenue for bringing solutions to others. The article explores that when we consider the global scope of fire risk and engage with it to enrich our understanding, it means we’re making NFPA’s programs, messaging, and standards even more valuable to that truly international conversation.