WILDLAND FIRE FIGHTING
The IAFF supports establishing a Blue Ribbon Commission to undertake a comprehensive analysis of the issues associated with wildland fires.
In recent years, wildland fires have increased in both frequency and intensity, posing a significant threat to life and property across much of the United States. From 2003 – 2012, in excess of 17 million acres have been scorched by wildfires, fires which claimed the lives of over 300 civilians and fire fighters, destroyed over 34,000 homes and resulted in insurance claims in excess of $70 billion. Changes in climate, population growth and development into the wildland-urban interface contribute to this growing problem.
Currently, federal, state and local governments spend in excess of $4.5 billion annually to combat these fires, an amount which will no doubt increase.
More than a dozen federal agencies, state and local governments, the fire service, industry, code enforcement agencies, insurance companies and scores of other entities have a direct interest in combating wildland fires. Close cooperation and coordination among all stakeholders is indispensable to effectively combat and contain wildland fires, but the problem has never been addressed in a comprehensive manner with all involved parties at the table.
Today’s issues and challenges surrounding wildland fires are analogous to the issues surrounding urban fire problems of the previous generation. In the early 1970s, President Nixon appointed a large and diverse group to study and make recommendations on the problem of urban fire loss, culminating in the landmark report “America Burning” which has made a lasting impact on urban fire. To adequately address the problem of wildland fire, the federal government must lead a similar approach.
The IAFF has proposed the Administration establish a Blue Ribbon Commission to undertake a comprehensive analysis of the issues associated with wildland fires and make appropriate recommendations to address such issues. The federal government is the only entity that can properly unify all stakeholders to analyze the many issues associated with wildland fires and make recommendations to reduce their frequency, impact and scope.
On June 5, 2014, the IAFF testified before the U.S. Senate
Subcommittee on Emergency Management, Intergovernmental Relations and the
District of Columbia on improving wildland training and coordination.