Warren Edwards, a Senior Fellow with the Global Resilience Institute, (GRI), Michele Steinberg, and Tom Welle of NFPA's Wildfire Division briefed Congressional staffers interested in community resilience on the wildfire issues and challenges recently in Washington D.C.
Warren discussed how GRI is looking at critical infrastructure at risk from wildfire and the potential for "western" style wildfire in the East. GRI is part of Northeastern University and recently held a wildfire summit at NFPA Headquarters in Quincy, MA. A key part of what that group look at was how there can be a cascading failure of critical infrastructure from a wildfire event and society's ability to be resilient to that failure. There was also discussion on the level of awareness of wildfire risk in the East versus in the West where larger, more intense wildfires happen more frequently, but actually how more wildfires in general happen in the East.
Tom briefed the audience, collectively known as the Hazards Caucus Alliance, on the new types of intense fires, that aren't really all that new, and how increased costs and expenditures are not really changing the bottom line on structure losses or fatalities. Programs such as NFPA's Firewise USA, Ready Set Go! from the International Association of Fire Chiefs and the Fire Adapted Communities Learning Network were also discussed as means to bring residents at risk to a level of being more adapted to wildfire.
The main point for this group was to understand that while Wildfire is a national problem, it really demands local solutions and the hope is to provide these Congressional staffers information on how the Congress can support efforts on the local level with National policy and funding.
(photo by Michele Steinberg: Tom Welle (L) and Warren Edwards)