A facilitator listening to a group

Outthink Wildfire summit works to build a bridge between barriers to wildfire mitigation and strategies to overcome them

As the past several years have shown, the mounting wildfire crisis in the U.S. presents a significant danger to people, homes, and communities, particularly those in wildfire urban interface (WUI) settings. While we know what’s needed to measurable reduce these risks, putting them into action requires buy-in and support from individual property-owners, communities, and policymakers at each level of government. Therein lies the challenge.

Motivating these audiences to do their part isn’t always easy. But to truly increase safety from wildfire, we need to identify viable pathways to better combat the growing wildfire problem and put those measures into action. As a next step toward that end, NFPA hosting its first Outthink Wildfire™ summit last week in Sacramento, CA.

NFPA launched Outthink Wildfire last year as a major policy initiative to stem the tide of wildfire-caused human and property losses through significant changes at all levels of government. Outthink Wildfire is about how we build, where we build, and bringing policymakers, fire service and the public together to solve the problem. The summit focused on developing a set of recommendations for the built environment, primarily tackling ways to get existing homes better protected from wildfire.

Representatives from nearly 40 organizations were invited to share their input, insights, and recommendations, and to help create a template for effectively reducing wildfire risks in WUI communities. While space for this event was limited, it serves as a launchpad for many more individuals and organizations to participate going forward so that we can collectively move the needle on wildfire mitigation.

Outthink Wildfire participants (in alphabetical order)

  • American Property Casualty Insurance Association
  • Brian Meacham Associates
  • Build Strong America
  • California Association of REALTORS®
  • California Building Industry Association
  • California Building Standards Commission
  • California Fire Safe Council
  • California Fire Science Consortium/Cal Poly San Luis Obispo
  • California Governor's Office
  • City of Austin (TX) Fire Department
  • Colorado Div. of Fire Prevention & Control
  • Colorado Wildfire Partners
  • Desert Research Institute
  • Fire Marshals Association of Colorado
  • U.S. Housing and Urban Development (HUD)
  • Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety (IBHS)
  • Insurance Information Institute
  • International Code Council
  • Munich Reinsurance America, Inc.
  • National Association of State Fire Marshals
  • National Disability Rights Network
  • National Institute of Standards & Technology (NIST)
  • National Volunteer Fire Council
  • National Fire Protection Association (NFPA)
  • NorCal Fire Prevention Officers
  • Oregon Building Codes Division, Dept Consumer & Business Svcs
  • Oregon Fire Marshals Association
  • Oregon State Fire Marshals Office
  • Rocky Mountain Insurance Information Association
  • Society of Fire Protection Engineers (SFPE) Foundation
  • Sonoma County (CA) Fire Prevention & Hazardous Materials Div.
  • Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment
  • U.S. Fire Administration
  • UL Fire Safety Research Institute
  • USDA Forest Service
  • Western Fire Chiefs Association
  • Wildland Fire Leadership Council

A full report on the summit and next steps will be released in the coming months.

In the meantime, a tremendous thank you to the 50-plus representatives who attended the summit this week. The enthusiasm and commitment displayed reinforces my hope and belief that we will truly be able to meet the ultimate Outthink Wildfire goal of eliminating wildfire hazards in 30 years.

I also look forward to hearing from all the wildfire safety advocates and officials who were not at the summit but would like to get actively involved in the Outthink Wildfire initiative. It takes buy-in and engagement from all of us to make holistic, impactful wildfire mitigation a reality.

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Michele Steinberg
Director, Wildfire Division, Disaster safety educator, land use planning advocate. Believes we can end home destruction from wildfires.

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