Picture of Brock Long speaking to FEMA Youth Preparedness Council taken by Faith Berry
I was invited to attend FEMA’s Youth Preparedness Council meeting in Washington DC. The youth from across the United States who participate are selected by FEMA to become preparedness leaders in their regions through an application process. Brock Long, FEMA’s newly appointed administrator, took the time to share with the students about how they can become a part of successfully helping their regions better be prepared for disasters. He shared the importance of good communication both external and internal to building preparedness success. Good communication he felt was not just texting, but face to face conversations which can help remove barriers and help people successfully work together to create resilient communities.
He also said that the students should never burn a bridge because of a disagreement, but rather accept that sometimes it is ok to disagree with others. They should learn how to talk and share time and sometimes a meal with those they disagree with to build good relationships that can ultimately solve problems. He spoke about the fact that everyone has a part to play in preparedness because preparedness solutions need to be more realistic, no one size fits all. He encouraged them to talk to people to help figure out how to create effective solutions.
Many Firewise neighborhoods have shared with the NFPA how they have had to build good working relationships with their local fire districts, land managing agencies, school boards, local businesses and elected officials to be successful. Good communication skills can be an integral part of creating successful preparedness project implementation in a neighborhood and larger community. NFPA’s Firewise USA program provides some great project tips that can help start the successful wildfire preparedness conversations where you live.