Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Fire on the Mountain

Since the 19 wildland firefighters lost their lives fighting the Yarnell Hill blaze in Arizona, the internet has lit up with opinions on where failures may have occurred and how to fix the current state of fire / land management in the US.

Fire is something I know little about: the tactics employed to fight it, the science behind burn rates of certain types of fuel, or the environmental factors that create the tinderboxes that many states seem to be, so I won't pretend to be an expert.

What I do know is that this tragedy has sparked a National debate spurred by President Obama's remarks that "...the Arizona Firefighter deaths shows a need to reassess wildland fire management policy."

I'm a big believer in looking at and learning from past experience, and in January of this year Tasmania experienced a firestorm that may help inform the course of the current conversation around the Fire Management debate. The Guardian created a compelling multi-media story around one families escape from danger and how the blurring of the wildland urban interface is working to put more people at risk.

If a re-examination of fire / land management policies in the US are about to be undertaken, I hope the lessons learned from communities around the world who have gone through this can help shape the conversation.

The "Firestorm" link below will take you to the Guardian piece:

Firestorm - The Guardian UK
The Holmes, taking cover under their doc in Dunally, Tasmania

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