Monday, January 23, 2017

IAWF Working for a Higher Standard

In the December issue of Wildfire Magazine, Tom Zimmerman, President of the International Association of Wildland Fire (IAWF), looks towards a worrisome future where fire intensity and severity will continue to increase, vegetation and fuel complexes will continue to change, and climate change will magnify these issues and bring additional concerns. In addition, population growth and community expansion show no signs of slowing and costs of doing business are increasing. These will have both good and bad influence on management capability, opportunities and direction.

Wildland fire management is inextricably bound to land and resource management, explains Zimmerman. Future actions founded on an over-reliance on past experience will cause weakening in success and land management efficiency; ecological, social and management concerns will not be appeased through the use of a single wildfire response. As the Cohesive Strategy insists, proactive measures are necessary.  Increasingly frequent and damaging wildfires cannot simply be accepted as unavoidable events. The full level of risk and hazard in the current and future fire environment must be clearly articulated, understood and factored into decision-making. Expanded ecological knowledge must not be unnoticed, but along with other scientific and technological advancements, must be used in the shaping of management activities.

In a time of increasing complexities and needs for greater capability, the apparent inability or unwillingness to find and implement a better way to fund wildfire suppression is perplexing at best. Stating support for increased learning and the increased capability that it will bring, but at the same time reducing the opportunities to promote research, learning and continued education on fire related subjects, does not advance preparation of land and resource management professionals for meeting future challenges, and will not keep pace with demands and needs.

Policy makers, he suggests, must be actively engaged and support program development to the extent possible. The IAWF is the professional association for this discipline and is actively seeking to set the standard in wildland fire management, bringing science, best practices and the best people together to shape the future.   

Read Zimmerman's full article here.

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