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Report: NFPA’s "Wildland/Urban Interface: Fire Department Wildfire Preparedness and Readiness Capabilities – Final Report"
Authors: Hylton Haynes, M.S., NFPA, Rachel Madsen, PhD. Candidate
Issued: January 2017

This is the final report, based on 46 fire chief and senior line officer interviews, describes how some fire departments are addressing the wildfire peril and making the transition to becoming better prepared and ready to control and mitigate a wildfire incident in their communities. For some departments these conditions require only minor adjustments in their organization, procedures, and activities, while for other departments a major shift in outlook and approach may be required.



Key findings

  • A number of departments made thoughtful choices about apparatus that could be used for a variety of purposes (for example, the Type 3 ‘hybrid’ engine), and about Strategic dispatching to maximize the effectiveness of available resources.
  • Versatility in radio technology is critical for departments responding to wildland/WUI fires, but costs can be prohibitive.
  • Several problems regarding Wildland and WUI Fire training were identified:
    • The need to transition from traditional training practices which emphasized structural fire training.
    • Career firefighters tend to receive wildland training more so than volunteer firefighters.
    • Inconsistent adoption of Wildland/WUI fire training, with local and regional variations in the level and adequacy of training.
    • Firefighter fitness levels that may not always be adequate for the rigors of Wildland/WUI fire events.
  • When communicating with the public, all departments reported to use traditional methods. Departments differed in their use of social media; this may be a missed opportunity for some. 
  • Efforts to prevent and mitigate fire in the wildland. WUI generally require communication and cooperation among fire personnel and local residents, businesses, and political leaders.  Many departments stress the importance and effectiveness of meeting in person and talking face-to-face.
  • Fire departments often work with other local government agencies to design and implement strategic mitigation plans.  Challenges remain with carrying out mitigation work, as some local departments struggle with financial and insurance constraints, lack of political support, and resistance from their own personnel.
  • Nearly all of our interviewees spoke to the positive effect that community risk reduction efforts can have on mitigating the risks of major wildfire events and preventing the loss of homes and property should a fire occur.
Summaries



Report: NFPA's "Wildland/Urban Interface: Fire Department Wildfire Preparedness and Readiness Capabilities - Phase 1" (PDF)
Author:  Hylton Haynes, M.S., NFPA; Angela Garcia, PhD., Rachel Madsen, PhD. Candidate
Issued: November 2015

Key findings

  • A number of departments made thoughtful choices about apparatus that could be used for a variety of purposes (for example, the Type 3 ‘hybrid’ engine), and about strategic dispatching to maximize the effectiveness of available resources.
  • Several problems regarding Wildland and WUI Fire training were identified:
    • The need to transition from traditional training practices which emphasized structural fire training.
    • Inconsistent adoption of Wildland/WUI fire training, with local and regional variations in the level and adequacy of training.
    • Firefighter fitness levels that may not always be adequate for the rigors of Wildland/WUI fire events.
  • When communicating with the public, all departments reported to use traditional methods. Departments differed in their use of social media; this may be a missed opportunity for some.
  • Nearly all of our interviewees spoke to the positive effect that community risk reduction efforts can have on mitigating the risks of major wildfire events and preventing the loss of homes and property should a fire occur.

Wildland