Structural firefighters can teach wildfire planning some lessons

Blog Post created by luciandeaton Employee on Jul 11, 2017

The July/August NFPA Journal is out and in its Wildfire column, I explore what wildfire response planners can learn from their structural fire department counterparts – often in the same building – about adapting to the evolving fire threat.


Back in May when I was writing this column, large fires in central Chile, Florida, and California had all burned much faster than anticipated, causing major loss across unseasonably dry and overgrown landscapes.


Wildfires are burning more acreage than before (in the modern context) and costing much more to control. Simply, wildfires are burning differently than we’ve come to expect, and that point sounded familiar to me.


Ongoing research on modern residential structural fire behavior is showing that modern construction materials and methods, as well as home contents, have led to fires that can burn much more aggressively, reach flash-over faster, and pose greater dangers to inhabitants and responders alike.


In response, structural firefighters have had to evolve to this change in how the train and respond to fires, the equipment they use to do it, and the resources they deploy to educate and inform the public.


In the column, I argue that wildfire agencies and land management organizations should consider how the fire service came to understand the emerging shift in the structural fire threat and how it identified the necessary changes to training, response, and fire education to meet it.  The lessons may come from just across the fire station bay.


Photo Credit: NIFC Public Photo Library, pulled 11July17