Wildfires are among the worst natural and man-made disasters our nation is currently facing. The damage caused by a wildfire is multifaceted, affecting multiple areas of civilization and the safety and health of responding firefighters. Today, factors such as climate change and reduced land management practices are contributing significantly to the cause, increased frequency and intensity of wildfires, particularly in the WUI.
As wildfires enter the WUI, the area between undeveloped and developed land, the problems become more numerous and complex. Additionally, as the population of the United States grows and wilderness development continues, the WUI expands, increasing the vulnerability of thousands of people who choose to live in space and the firefighters who respond to fight the fires. that occur This unique fire problem has become a high-risk public safety concern for life safety, public health and response, private property and businesses, the economy, and the ecology in these regions. Without intervention, the adverse consequences of wildfires in the WUI will worsen.
Our nation is on the verge of a time when all landowners, citizens, communities, infrastructure organizations, academics, researchers, nonprofits, government agencies, and others have critical roles in coordinating a collaborative approach to contain and control the threat of wildfires in the WUI. It is essential that elected officials and other government leaders allocate resources and support this imperative to address the WUI wildfire problem.
FEMA/DHS/USFA developed the “Urban Wilderness Interface: A Look at Issues and Resolutions” to spur action by raising awareness of the crisis facing our nation related to wildfires in the WUI and design a unified strategic approach to risk reduction at the national, state, regional, and local levels. In developing this report, a cross-functional group of stakeholders and subject matter experts (SMEs) from across the country came together to identify 33 challenges within 13 key WUI issues and develop recommendations to address each challenge. In total, 112 recommendations are presented. These recommendations address challenges in firefighter health and safety, public health and safety, evacuations, forest and grassland health and resiliency, climate change, community planning and resiliency, infrastructure and public services, communication strategy and engagement operations, impacts socioeconomic, recovery, emerging technology, data use and modeling, and wildfire risk management. The recommendations must be followed together, forming a system of strategies that require urgent, sustained and actionable implementation. These recommendations are not quick fixes, but long-term solutions. Leadership and commitment to implementing these recommendations results in a safer America.
Read the report at the US Fire Administration.