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20 Posts authored by: freddurso Employee

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NFSA's Bruce Lecair (left) and Lubrizol's Dave Kokosenski at Smokey's Cabin

Best known for his role in preventing wildfires, Smokey Bear is bringing his message of fire safety closer to home.


Assisting the U.S. Forest Service's beloved mascot with this effort is the California Fire Sprinkler Coalition . A favorite among attendees at the California State Fair in Sacramento (this year's event takes place July 10-26), Camp Smokey is an interactive exhibit showcasing a number of fire-safety principles. Since sprinklers are a requirement in all of California's new, one- and two-family homes and townhomes, the coalition thought fair goers would also enjoy getting up close and personal with these devices. 


Learn how the coalition gave Smokey a lesson in home fire sprinklers by visiting the Fire Sprinkler Initiative blog.


!|src=|alt=|style=padding: 0; margin: 0; border: 0; display: block; width: 80px; max-width: 100%;!Latest issue of NFPA's Fire Sprinkler Initiative newsletter highlights demographics of today's home fire victims

Fire Adapted CommunitiesIn her final column for NFPA Journal, Molly Mowery recounts her experience as senior program manager for NFPA's Wildland Fire Operations Division and involvement with the Fire Adapted Communities (FAC) Coalition. Utilizing a series of tools, FAC prepares homes, businesses, neighborhoods, infrastructures, natural areas, and surrounding landscapes for wildfires.

"If we really want to stimulate and accelerate public action, we need to combine education with a process for changing behavior," says Mowery. "This process requires many key ingredients, such as clarifying at the beginning stage what is important to our audience and exploring their values; developing practices instead of checklists; and leaving more time for implementation rather than getting stuck in the planning phase."

Read all of Mowery's final thoughts in the January/February issue of Journal.

While investigating social media use during emergencies for my NFPA Journal feature, "#AreYouPrepared?," my research kept pointing me to zombies. Yes, zombies--those ghoulish creatures that refuse to rest in peace and have successfully invaded all forms of popular culture in recent years. They've also managed to grab the attention of social media users.

Let me explain: the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) launched a social media campaign in 2011 promoting emergency preparedness tactics helpful during a zombie takeover and other disasters. (NFPA has developed similar tips for emergencies.) Their philosophy was if you were prepared for the "dawn of the dead" (stellar zombie flick, by the way), you were prepared for tornadoes, fires, and other events. The CDC disseminated these tools and tips via its social media channels. What was the response? Check out the following video where I give an overview of the campaign:



For a recent example of social media's effectiveness, check out a recent Atlanta-Journal Constitution article on its use during the recent snow storm that sidelined Atlanta.

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Harry Campbell for NFPA Journal

There's apparently more to social media than merely posting and receiving mundane status updates. Take Superstorm Sandy and the 2010 Haiti earthquake, for example, when crucial information from victims and emergency agencies was found on Facebook, Twitter, and other channels.


As the public increasingly turns to social media during emergencies, actions and conversations are taking place that aim to bolster the use of these tools. The latest cover story in +NFPA Journal+ highlights these efforts, including major endeavors by the American Red Cross, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, and NFPA. For instance, an NFPA task group comprised of committee members from NFPA 1600, +Disaster/Emergency Management and Business Continuity Programs+, is attempting to develop language on social media use for the standard's 2016 edition.

"If social media is able to push out emergency information to critical audiences, we have to be able to use all of these tools," says Jo Robertson, chair of the NFPA 1600 task group. "Social media use is a reality. We all have to get past the notion that this is something we can ignore."


Get more details in the latest edition of +NFPA Journal,+ which includes tips on social media use during all stages of an emergency and incidents of social media informing and misinforming. Also, add comments to a LinkedIn group discussing how the public and private sector are using social media.<br /></p>

Stay or goAn intense wildfire near the Australian city of Perth has claimed the life of a 62-year-old man who was trying to save his house.

The Associated Press reports that the man collapsed and died on the roof of his home while hosing it down in an attempt to shield it from burning embers. The house itself wasn't damaged, but 49 others were destroyed from the wildfire.

Australia does have a "Stay and Defend or Leave Early" policy, which was highlighted in an NFPA Journal feature story. NFPA hasn't taken a formal position on this policy but does provide important safety information on actions people should take during wildfires. Get additional emergency preparedness tips here.


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This week marks the six-month anniversary of Arizona&#39;s Yarnell Hill Fire, the deadliest day for firefighters since the September 11 terrorist attacks. Nineteen members of the Granite Mountain Hotshots died during the incident.&#0160;


Commemorating the June 30 event is The Weather Channel, which has developed the documentary and long-form article, &quot;America Burning: The Yarnell Hill Tragedy and the Nation&#39;s Wildfire Crisis.&quot; The video recaps radio communication from the team the day of the fire and includes fresh interviews with fire historians, meteorologists, fire investigators, and widows of the men who lost their lives. Also providing his take on U.S. wildfires in recent years is Stephen Pyne, who is regarded as one of the world&#39;s leading experts in the environmental history of fire. (Read the +NFPA Journal+ interview with Pyne.)


&quot;The way you control fire is by controlling what is out there,&quot; Pyne says in the documentary. &quot;So, we&#39;re going to have a lot more fires in the landscape unless you take control of the landscape itself.&quot; The long-form article mentions NFPA&#39;s Firewise Communities Program, which encourages homeowners living in the wildland/urban interface (WUI) to mitigate their wildfire risks.


The article also raises larger questions on the state of wildfires in the U.S., the role of climate change, and the current challenges of living in the WUI. &quot;We can&#39;t rest on our laurels anymore,&quot; says meteorologist Mike Bettes in the video. &quot;We&#39;re getting to a point where these events have become so extreme. is a call to action.&quot;


Read the article, and watch the full-length documentary here:




[America Burning: The Yarnell Hill Tragedy and the Nation&#39;s Wildfire Crisis |] from Weather Films on Vimeo .

!|src=|alt=|style=padding: 0; margin: 0; border: 0; display: block; width: 80px; max-width: 100%;!PBS interviews NFPA's Ken Willette about Arizona's Yarnell Hill Fire and its challenging conditions for firefighters

!|src=|alt=|style=padding: 0; margin: 0; border: 0; display: block; width: 80px; max-width: 100%;!Yarnell Hill Fire report released at Saturday press conference

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An aerial view of some of the destruction caused by the Waldo Canyon Fire in Colorado. The fire was the costliest of 2012, resulting in $453.7 million in property damage. (Photo: AP/Wide World)

Catastrophic wildfires in Colorado and a naval submarine fire were some of the costliest incidents in 2012 that resulted in more than $1.2 billion of direct property damage.


NFPA Journal highlights the details of these and other fires in the latest issue. The costliest fire last year, for example, was Colorado's Waldo Canyon Fire, which scorched more than 18,000 acres and burned 346 structures. These figures and incidents were taken from NFPA&#39;s report, "Large-Loss Fires in the United States in 2012."


Learn more about these incidents, including some lessons learned, by reading the report summary in +Journal.+ Looking for a comprehensive list of last year&#39;s large-loss fires? Get it here.</p>

Fire Adapted Communities
NFPA Journal
columnist Molly Mowery hits the "pause button" before 2014 makes its arrival to reflect on the successes of the Fire Adapted Communities (FAC) initiative. Launched by a coalition that includes NFPA, the initiative helps U.S. communities find tools and resources to reduce wildfire risks.

"Budget cuts, record-breaking home losses, and wildland firefighter tragedies can also make it hard to remember positive outcomes we're seeing from our collective actions to mitigate wildland fire," says Mowery in the latest issue of NFPA Journal.

She highlights new resources, successes of the Firewise Communities/USA® program, and the launch of the FAC Learning Network, which targets U.S. communities with the goal of connecting people and resources to become fire-adapted. 

Read about all of the FAC successes in the November/December issue of Journal.

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In 2012, coastal flooding caused by Superstorm Sandy was blamed for a fire in the Breezy Point neighborhood in Queens, New York, that destroyed nearly 130 homes and damaged 50 others. (Photo: AP/Wide World)

Despite all of the proactive steps humans have taken to prepare for the worst, we are still "remarkably unprepared" for a cataclysmic natural event.


This warning comes from geologist Susan Kieffer, whose new book, The Dynamics of Disaster, makes a strong case for an all-hands-on-deck approach to disaster preparedness. That&#39;s where the codes and standards community may come into play, says Kieffer in the latest edition of +NFPA Journal.+

"I see the setting of standards as being very much along the lines of preparation for hazards," she says. "The more preparation we can do, the more we're going to minimize the impact these disasters have on us, and the less remediation we'll have to do."


Kieffer exemplifies her points by highlighting some of Earth&#39;s most recent natural disasters, including the Icelandic volcano eruptions in 2010 and Italy&#39;s L&#39;Aquila earthquake in 2009. Read the entire Q&amp;A in the November/December issue of +Journal.+</p>

James ShannonLast June, the Yarnell Hill Fire in Arizona killed 19 members of the Granite Mountain Hotshots. Over the past century, we have come to see events such as the Yarnell Hill Fire as infrequent but inevitable, says NFPA President Jim Shannon in "First Word" in the November/December issue of NFPA Journal. We treat the wildfire problem as though it is some sort of fluke, he says, when it is a problem that will grow steadily worse over the next generation, inflicting death on the scale of Yarnell Hill again and possibly much sooner than in the past.

The federal government's response has been uneven, pulling resources away from the most basic needs of communities threatened by wildfire. While the government supports excellent programs to help communities adopt policies to make them safer, such as the Firewise and Fire Adapted Communities programs, those efforts are not enough. To prevent another Yarnell Hill, Shannon says we need a better coordinated national effort to deal with fundamental changes in the nature, scope, and consequences of wildfires.

--By Kathie Robinson

The Rim Fire approaches the Hetch Hetchy Reservoir, the source of water and power for San Francisco.

Made apparent by the recent Rim Fire in California, which threatened the water supply of 2.6 million people living 160 miles from the incident, wildfires have regional impacts.

A story in the latest edition of NFPA Journal provides some perspective on a concern extending beyond the designated wildland/urban interface (WUI). “The threats to water, power, and other infrastructure that could affect  a major urban center are perfect examples of why wildfire is everyone’s  concern,” says NFPA's Molly Mowery, program manager for Fire Adapted Communities and International Outreach. “It’s easy to think that only the people living in  the WUI are affected, but the reality is that the impact of these fires  is often regional. We need to take collective ownership of these kinds  of disasters, and that includes the work we do to prepare for them."

Read the full story in Journal's In A Flash section.

Stephen PyneStephen Pyne, one of the world's leading experts on the environmental history of fire, offered his opinions on the U.S. approach to wildfire in a recent Op-Ed in The Washington Post. His stance is a response to some of this year's biggest fires, including the Black Forest Fire in Colorado and California's Fire, and the ever-present challenges of living in the wildland/urban interface.

"Today, the issue is no longer just ill-sited McMansions but a giant retrofit for 30 years of irrationally exuberant sprawl," states Pyne. "The National Association of State Foresters estimates that more than 72,000 communities are at risk and only 20 percent have a plan for protection.

"We know how to keep houses from burning. And we should know that if we build houses in the fire equivalent of a flood plain or a barrier island, the primary responsibility for protecting them is ours."

Learn how to fire-adapt your community, and read more about Pyne in an interview NFPA Journal conducted with him on America's complex relationship with fire.

Russian wildfireRussia, like the U.S., is susceptible to a range of wildfire threats. And where there are threats, there will always be solutions to lessen these catastrophic risks. 

Underscoring these solutions was NFPA Journal columnist Molly Mowery, who recently attended the International Fire Behavior and Fuels Conference in Russia. As Mowery highlights in the September/October issue of Journal, the trip was an attempt to engage in international outreach on the wildfire front. Alongside an international programs specialist for the U.S. Forest Service, Mowery met with state government officials, firefighting agencies, and nongovernmental organizations to promote community-based fire management in Russia. 

"Drawing on our experiences with Canadian and South African colleagues, we highlighted the areas in Russia that have shown great interest or potential in adopting a Firewise Communities model," says Mowery. "Although the context is very different, the concept of engaging residents in helping reduce wildfire risk is one that can be embraced universally."

Read the rest in the latest issue of Journal.

Yarnell Hill Fire
A KPHO-TV / CBS-5-AZ.COM image shows fires that raged in the hills near Yarnell, Arizona on June 30, 2013 (Kpho-Tv/Cbs-5-Az.Com/AFP)

My commute from my Boston apartment to NFPA headquarters in Quincy, Mass., via public transit gives me ample time to peruse the massive array of magazines that weigh down my work bag. A feature story that recently had me hooked was a detailed look at the Tahoe Hotshots, a fearless group of California wilderness firefighters, and their tactics for battling last year's Mill Fire in Tahema County.

While reading the article, I was reminded of Arizona's Yarnell Hill Fire and its tragic outcome a few months ago. The incident was a devastating loss for the fire service; nineteen firefighters were killed during the June fire, which NFPA deemed the deadliest incident for firefighters since the September 11 terrorist attacks. (NFPA also attended the memorial service.)

The details in the feature, which appeared in the July issue Outside Magazine, help paint a vivid picture of a job not for the faint of heart. There are tales of chainsaw mishaps, heat exhaustion, and quick decisions that place these firefighters in the thick of a raging inferno and into extremely precarious situations. At the end of the day, or whenever the Tahoe crew is able to reflect on their work, it's evident that they are fueled by a sense of pride that trascends the promise of a paycheck.

This newfound insight into the life of a wildland firefighter has only deepened my admiration for the 19 brave men who lost their lives--and the number of other firefighters who have battled similar blazes across the country this year. Such deeds should never go unrecognized.  


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DoD photo by Master Sgt. Christopher DeWitt, U.S. Air Force

Warning: the Earth's changing climate will likely have a severe impact on future wildfire events in the U.S.

That&#39;s the takeaway from a recent NASA article, which backs up this statement with computer modeling and satellite imagery that paint a dire portrait of America&#39;s future fire landscape. Wildfires have already burned more than 2.5 million acres in the U.S. this year, and drier climates expected across the nation in coming decades will likely exacerbate the damage associated with these events.

What can we expect as the Earth heats up? According to the article, the country is in store for longer fire seasons, larger areas at risk of wildfire, and more frequent wildfire events.

"A 100,000-acre wildfire used to be unusual, you would see one every few
years," Carl Albury, a contractor with the Forest Service, tells NASA. "Those type of fires
are becoming a yearly occurrence."

All the more reason, says NFPA, to start preparing your homes and communities for today's wildfire threats before they worsen. Check out the[ Firewise |] website for tips on safeguarding homes and property, and watch the NASA video highlighting the new research:

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