Jerry McAdams with Boise Fire Department and Justice Jones with Austin's Fire Department co-presented about a Fire Adapted Communities Exchange program they implemented at today's Backyards & Beyond Conference. Creating a collaborative environment where mutual learning and shared knowledge could flow back and forth between the two cities was one of the main goals of this exchange program.
Back in February, three Boise firefighters went down to Austin to share best practices and learn from each other as it relates to fire adapted communities and risk reduction. Then, in May, eight Austin firefighters visited Boise. The Fire Adapted Communities Learning Network sponsored these exchange visits. Living with wildfire includes restoring and maintaining fire resistant landscapes, protecting property from wildfire risk and responding with trained fire service when fires occur, and Boise and Austin take proactive approaches to these three issues.
The camaraderie between the firefighters from the two cities helped to make the learning and sharing of information fun, as well as helped make a comfortable environment where everyone felt comfortable to ask questions and get as much out of the time as possible. Both departments were able to get new ideas (shaded fuel breaks in Austin and Firewise gardens in Boise) that they were interested in implementing back home, as well as new ways to outreach to the public, carry out wildfire fighting tactics, mitigate landscapes, etc. They would recommend more fire departments partner to exchange ideas, lessons learned and knowledge to increase wildfire community survival.