Wildfire with trees in the foreground

The breaking of yet another wildfire record calls for a holistic approach to solutions now

On Sunday, the Dixie Fire in California became the state’s second largest wildfire in history, having consumed 463,000 acres across northern California and destroying over 400 homes.  It has impacted the lives of many and as firefighters work valiantly to confront its spread, it stubbornly rages at 21% contained.  If there is a familiar sound to this record achievement, it’s because the last, “2nd largest wildfire in California’s history”, was the Mendocino Complex extinguished in January 2019.  Then it was when the SCU Lightning Complex and the Creek Fire contested for the “2nd largest” record in late 2020.

Much like the recent Olympics, we can’t be surprised anymore when wildfire records are also routinely broken.  This plain reality lead NFPA to develop Outthink Wildfire™, a policy initiative that outlines five tenets for all levels of government to greatly enhance protection from wildfire. It is rooted in two facts - wildfires are going to happen, and the fire service will not be able to extinguish these fires at a pace to save people and property in their path going forward.  This isn’t a knock against fire services.  In many cases, they need more resources, but it’s a realization that they need all of us to not expect them to shoulder the burden alone.

Outthink Wildfire™ calls for a holistic-approach solution, spanning where and how we build, fire service needs, land management, and public education.  It is simply unfair and increasingly unrealistic to expect firefighters to “just put out the fires”, while we continue to live in places without reflection of the risks, allow lands to go unmanaged, and leave wildfire education only for those with the time and resources to engage at their own pace. 

This holistic-approach solution seeks a balanced wildfire response ecosystem to achieve the goal of eliminating the loss of communities from wildfire in the next 30 years.  It means:

As records continue to be broken, we can no longer lean upon a few to solve the problem alone for everyone else.  A holistic-approach solution is needed in policy development and regulatory action at the Federal, state, and local levels.  Learn more about Outthink Wildfire™’s call to action and play your part in the solution.

Photo Source: Pixabay

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Lucian Deaton
Program Manager focusing on domestic policy impacting community wildfire risks & international collaboration for Firewise USA®.

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