Myrtle Beach, South Carolina is the gracious host of the 2015 Backyards & Beyond Wildland Education Conference, and this morning Jim Pauley, NFPA's President, opened the conference with his remarks. We are currently living through severe drought conditions and rising temperatures that are transforming a region's typical wildfire season into a year-round problem, Jim began by explaining. According to NIFC, so far in 2015, more than 50,000 fires have burned more than 9 million acres, more than three times the amount of land burned in the same period of 2014: a staggering statistic that shows how much work we all still have to do.
While the wildfire problem is complex, we do know that local behavior change and resident safety action can begin to change outcomes, and continuing to encourage communities to take steps to reduce their risk is important. Jim welcomed the representatives from the Forest Service, fire departments, land management agencies, educational institutions, insurance industry and homeowner associations to this year's conference, and acknowledged that by working together we can all make a difference.
Jim also hopes that if there is anything NFPA can do to help support efforts to raise awareness and reduce wildfire risks, that people come to us and ask. He reminds us that sharing knowledge and experience will help each other do more to create safer communities, and realizes that this conference is one way to do that. So we share in Jim's thoughts by welcoming everyone to this year's conference, we look forward to a great week!