On Monday morning, I learned some news that shocked me and shook me to the core. The International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC) reported that a leader in the wildfire safety world, Christina Randall, the Wildfire Mitigation Administrator for the Colorado Springs Fire Department, had passed away suddenly and unexpectedly while attending IAFC’s WUI 2017 Conference in Reno, Nevada.
Knowing Christina personally and professionally, I felt devastated. As I started to think about the ripple effect of her sudden absence, my sadness grew, but also my recognition of the many contributions she has made, locally and nationally, to wildfire safety. As part of a 33-year career in the fire service, she worked for a decade alongside my NFPA colleague and Firewise program manager Cathy Prudhomme when they were both part of the Colorado Springs Wildland Risk Section. She contributed tremendous amounts of time following the Waldo Canyon fire on a joint project with the Fire Adapted Communities Coalition to develop a lessons learned document and video. She personally worked with nearly 30 Firewise Community sites within the CSFD jurisdiction over the past several years, helping these small subdivisions earn Firewise recognition status and maintain their required activity and paperwork. Most recently, she served on the International Association of Fire Chiefs Wildland Fire Policy Committee, and she chaired the NWCG Wildland Urban Interface Mitigation Committee.
Christina was smart, incredibly hard-working, and had a kind and calm personality. She didn’t seek the limelight, and could sometimes appear to be a bit shy, but she stepped up and made public presentations to further the mission of wildfire safety at such venues as NFPA’s Backyards & Beyond conference and NFPA’s annual Conference & Expo. She was a leader who did her most important work not in front of a camera or up on a podium, but right alongside the people who dealt day-to-day with the risk of wildfire on the landscape. According to her closest colleagues, she was known as a fierce advocate for the wildfire safety mission, a mentor and a friend.
All those of us who had an opportunity to work with Christina remember her kindness, her great smile and sunny attitude, and her unflagging support for community residents working to be safer from wildfire. Our hearts go out to her family and friends, her colleagues at the Colorado Springs Fire Department, and her wider wildfire family around the country.
Photo from my 2003 visit to Colorado Springs with the CSFD Wildfire Mitigation Team: Christina Randall, Bill Mills, Cathy Prudhomme.