M581 WUI Impacts Oct 2007


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Presentation given as part of October 2007 (San Antonio, TX) session of the NWCG course M-581 Fire Program Managment

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M581 WUI Impacts Oct 2007

  1. 1. Managing the Impact of the Wildland-Urban Interface Jeremy A. Keller Wildland-Urban Interface Fire Specialist Gulf Coast Refuge Complex Gautier, Mississippi
  2. 2. Defining the Wildland-Urban Interface Everybody wants a clear and simple definition, such as:  “All structures within ¼ mile of wildland fuels” Difficult to define in absolute terms  Critical distances will vary depending on local circumstances: Fuel types, topography, values at risk  Too much variation to use a “one size fits all” approach A holistic approach is more appropriate  Should account for economic and environmental values, not just structures at risk Refer to Paul Summerfelt’s article in Fire Management Today (Winter 2003):  The Wildland/Urban Interface: What’s Really at Risk?
  3. 3. A Two-Part ProblemThe ecosystem aspect of the problem  Wildlands are the source of the hazard to human values at risk People Fuels  Aspects of the wildland environment Communities WUI Ecosystem can also be a value at risk … water “Urban” “Wildland” quality, timber, recreation, etc.  The strength of the land management agencies lies in understanding how to manage this part of the problemThe human aspect of the problem  Humans define what is a value at risk  Humans create risk by living near and visiting wildland areas  The strength of our cooperators in structural fire and related agencies lies in understanding how to manage this part of the problem
  4. 4. Mitigation vs. Prevention Wildfire prevention seeks to stop fires from occurring by reducing ignition sources or separating fuels from ignition sources Prevention = Offense Wildfire mitigation seeks to reduce the negative impacts of those fires that occur in spite of prevention efforts Mitigation = Defense
  5. 5. An Integrated Approach The basic goals of any wildfire mitigation program are to: 1.Reduce hazards to life and property 2.Improve firefighter safety 3.Maximize wildland ecosystem benefits
  6. 6. An Integrated Approach Fire prevention programs are based on the “3-E” model of intervention strategies:  Education  Engineering  Enforcement An integrated strategy incorporates prevention and mitigation strategies, and requires a further intervention:  Ecosystem Management Think in terms of a “4-E” strategy
  7. 7. The “3-E” ApproachEducation interventions are those activities that:  Create an awareness of the fire problem  Provide information needed to understand the risks and hazards associated with wildfire  Change attitudes when necessary  Change behavior when necessaryEngineering interventions are those activities that:  Remove the heat source from the fuel  Reduce or eliminate fuels  Shield fuels from heat sourcesEnforcement interventions are those activities that:  Ensure compliance with fire prevention regulations  Determine the cause of fires  Seek to punish those who set illegal firesAs defined in P-101 Introduction to Wildfire Prevention(1997 version) … these definitions are also true ofstructural fire prevention programs
  8. 8. Education Education programs are an opportunity to “market” your fire management program to the public All education programs should seek to build a basic understanding of wildland fire and management practices When well executed, this will:  Increase public support for management programs  Build good will toward fire management programs  Build “tolerance” for negative aspects of management, i.e. smoke
  9. 9. Education Wildland fire education messages are difficult to effectively deliver To the public, we often seem to send mixed messages regarding fire:  On the one hand, we have an ongoing, nationally-recognized fire prevention campaign  On the other hand, we ourselves intentionally set fires This “good fire / bad fire” concept can be a tough sell to many members of the public  Fire educators require specialized training to be able to operate effectively
  10. 10. EducationFrom a Prevention standpoint, educationprograms should seek to…  Increase public understanding of wildfire danger and the negative impacts of undesired human ignitions  Change public attitudes and behavior regarding possible ignition sources, such as:  Children playing with fire  Untended campfires  Debris burning  Hot work (welding, etc.)  Programs should focus on adults and children
  11. 11. EducationFrom a Mitigation standpoint,education programs should seek toreduce the impact of wildfireincidents to communities by:  Getting residents to adopt fire safe building and landscape practices (FireWise)  Building support for fire safe development practices in communities  Building support for controversial land management and mitigation practices (prescribed fire)These programs will focus on adults… residents and policy-makers
  12. 12. EngineeringFrom a Prevention standpoint,engineering interventions seek toeliminate potential sources ofundesirable ignitions throughtechnical or mechanical means:  Spark arresters on combustion engine exhaust systems on chainsaws, ATVs, etc.  Wire-mesh screens on chimneys and burn barrels  Campfire rings and grates in recreation areas  Use of alternative debris disposal methods, such as:  Tub grinders  Chippers  Air-curtain incinerators
  13. 13. EngineeringFrom a Mitigation standpoint,engineering interventions seek to:  Reduce potential for wildfires to spread to communities through creation of fuel breaks and zones of reduced fuel loading in wildland areas  Limit the impact of wildfires to communities through fire-safe landscaping practices  Limit the impact of wildfires to communities through adoption of The national FireWise website is the fire-safe building materials and definitive source for information on this practices for structures, such as: fire-safe building and landscaping  Non-combustible roofs and siding practices:  Reduction of entry points for www.firewise.org firebrands (soffits, vents, etc.) But also see the Federal Alliance for Safe  Elimination of structural ladder fuels (wooden decks, etc.) Homes (FLASH) site: www.flash.org
  14. 14. EnforcementFrom a Prevention standpoint,enforcement interventions seek todiscourage undesirable ignitions  Fire use restrictions may be put in effect during certain periods:  County burn bans  Bans on outdoor welding, mowing, other hot work  Reinforcement of other prevention interventions such as:  Enforcement of campfire restrictions  Prevention patrols and public contact to reinforce education messages and encourage desirable behavior by the public  Investigative techniques seek to:  Determine fire cause for analysis of trends and better targeting of specific ignition sources for intervention  Collect evidence for possible prosecution of criminal or negligent incendiary fires
  15. 15. Enforcement From a Mitigation standpoint, enforcement interventions seek to limit the negative impacts of wildfires to communities  Adoption of ordinances, codes and regulations to mitigate wildfire threat to communities:  National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) standards … see below  International Code Council (ICC) Wildland-Urban Interface Code  Florida “Hawkins Bill” burning  Brush clearance ordinances in California Key NFPA standards: http://www.nfpa.org  NFPA 1141 Standard for Fire Protection Infrastructure for Land Development in Suburban and Rural Areas  NFPA 1142 Standard on Water Supplies for Suburban and Rural Fire Fighting  NFPA 1144 Standard for Reducing Structure Ignition Hazards from Wildland Fire
  16. 16. Ecosystem Management Effective management of the land is the strong point of natural resources agencies Well-managed natural landscapes pose less of a fire threat to communities and other values  Wildlands also have their own values to communities and local economies: Recreation, watershed protection, timber, grazing, etc. Fuels reduction projects offer short-term mitigation solutions… sound land management is the only effective and economic long-term solution  However, short-range mitigation projects must continue because “perfectly managed” public lands are still a long way off in most cases
  17. 17. Collaboration is Key The nature of the WUI fire problem requires collaboration among all stakeholders Different communities of practice have different skills … all are needed  Natural resource agencies have skilled land managers  Fire departments have public safety education expertise  Community groups can ensure “buy in” for any plans that are developed If you hope to avoid serious problems with WUI issues, you must seek cooperative relationships with these groups  No one stakeholder can be considered a “lead agency” for WUI issues… all are impacted and all need to work together to address the problem
  18. 18. Mitigation is MitigationActions taken to mitigate the wildfirethreat usually mitigate against otherdisasters as well … examples:  Forests maintained at a sustainable density are less prone to severe wildfire, but also insect infestations and wind damage  Well-managed steep areas are less prone to severe fires and therefore help to reduce flooding and landslides  Improved access to communities for wildfire incidents also increases general safety for the area  Metal roofs are fire resistant as well WARNING: Be sure that mitigation as resistant to wind damage in guidance given to residents is hurricanes consistent with guidance they are receiving from other sources… otherwise only the “most dreaded” hazard will win
  19. 19. Mitigate… but be Prepared Some claim that there is too much focus on defensible space and fighting wildfires at the expense of natural resource values  Effective land management and sound development practices will ease the wildfire problem …. eventually  In the meantime, we still have to focus on the short-term protection of values at risk through mitigation and preparedness  Saying that “people should know better” will not get you very far or win you many friends Consider the following six Effective mitigation programs will take factors when developing years … decades in most cases … to fully WUI preparedness plans… mature 1. Water Supply Meanwhile, development in wildland areas 2. Evacuation continues 3. Mobility Hazards  Preparedness measures must always be 4. Logistical Facilities considered to protect life safety and values- at-risk 5. Exercise Program 6. Legal Agreements
  20. 20. 1. Water Supplies• Finally… an up-side to development in wildland areas: Fire protection water systems of some kind will follow development in most cases• Driven by economic and legal considerations • Water supply for fire protection factors heavily in homeowner and commercial insurance (ISO) ratings • State/Local regulations may require minimum water supplies as part of development approval Fire Hydrant Color Decoder• Rural water supplies may take several forms: • Per NFPA 291 … may not be used in • Hydrant / Water Main Systems your area • Dry Hydrants • Color of bonnet/caps indicate flow rates at 20 psi residual pressure • Tanker Shuttles Class C Less than 500 gpm Red • Storage Tanks / Cisterns Class B 500-1000 gpm Orange Class A 1000-1500 gpm Green Class AA More than 1500 gpm Blue http://www.firehydrant.org/
  21. 21. Make Water Supply Work for You What can you do to take advantage of new or Why draft when you can have improved water supply capabilities? water delivered?  Ensure that your equipment is compatible with water supply systems of cooperators  Adapters for engines  Correct hydrant wrenches  Specialized hook-ups for rapid fill Locate and map water supplies Develop cooperative alternative water sources  Dry Hydrants Drill engine crews on interface water handling procedures Fire Department Terminology:  Using hydrant systems Tanker = Water Tender  Working with fire department tankers Pumper = Engine Sign agreements for guaranteed water tender Brush Truck = Type 6 Engine support Truck = Apparatus for which water handling is not a primary  Mutual aid for wildfire response mission (i.e. rescue, ladder,  Paid agreements for prescribed fire etc)
  22. 22. Rural Water Supply References U.S. Fire Administration (USFA) distance learning courses about rural water supplies  Q-217 Alternative Water Supply: Planning and Implementing Programs  Q-218 Testing and Evaluation of Water Supplies for Fire Protection  Enroll in both at NFA Online: http://www.nfaonline.dhs.gov/browse/index.shtm  Your state fire academy may have additional courses on rural water supply Get smart about rural water Understand ISO ratings (or state-specific rating system) supply systems! and their impact on:  Fire department planning and priorities  Commercial/residential insurance costs http://www.isomitigation.com/ Read and understand applicable NFPA standards: http://www.nfpa.org  NFPA 1141 Standard for Fire Protection Infrastructure for Land Development in Suburban and Rural Areas  NFPA 1142 Standard on Water Supplies for Suburban and Rural Fire Fighting  NFPA 1144 Standard for Reducing Structure Ignition Hazards from Wildland Fire
  23. 23. 2. Evacuation Plan ahead to get civilians out of danger … and out of the way of operations  While Federal agencies have an indirect role in evacuation of residential areas, we must still be engaged in the planning process Recent studies have suggested that shelter in place strategies may be appropriate for some communities  Requires significant planning and public education to be safe and effective alternative  Consider characteristics of local population before promoting shelter in place, i.e. high rates of respiratory ailments Don’t forget livestock evacuation  FEMA distance learning course: IS-111 Livestock in Disasters http://training.fema.gov/EMIWeb/IS/is111.asp
  24. 24. 3. Mobility Hazards Identify & mitigate potential choke-points during the planning process:  Narrow roads  Inadequate bridges  Dead-ends  Low bridges / overpasses Know where your equipment can go safely … before the fire This should be a cooperative effort between you and other local agencies … resources may be deployed across area Capture knowledge in GIS or other maps to brief incoming resources
  25. 25. 4. Logistical Facilities Pre-identify potential logistical and incident support facilities  Bases / Camps  Staging areas  Helispots, dip sites, etc. Develop and sign agreements for use ahead of time in order to ensure availability during incident Give preference to government or non-profit owned facilities for cost savings
  26. 26. 5. Practice, Practice, Practice The only way to test plans short of an actual incident is a progressive exercise plan  Work with local Emergency Managers to develop a WUI-based exercise program Develop interagency Type III teams to manage local incidents… build local capacity  Currently a DHS push to develop All- Hazard Type III teams at the state and local level  Potential grant and training opportunities for local cooperators
  27. 27. 6. Lawyers Get MOU/MOA documents drafted and signed … before the incident Consider agreements for the following areas:  Mutual Aid / Automatic Aid  Equipment rental rates  Facility rental rates  Access through private property Having agreements signed and in place ahead of time will save considerable trouble during and after the incident
  28. 28. Further Reading… Public Fire Education Planning: A Five- Step Process. Aug 2002. US Fire Administration publication FA-219. (download/order free at: www.usfa.dhs.gov/applications/publications ) A systematic method for identifying where education programs can make a difference in public behavior, how to implement the program and monitor its progress Strategies for Marketing Your Fire Department Today and Beyond. Jul 1998. US Fire Administration publication FA-182. (download/order free at: www.usfa.dhs.gov/applications/publications ) How to “sell” your fire program to the public and win community goodwill Essentials of Fire Department Customer Service. 1996. Alan Brunacini, Chief, Phoenix Fire Dept (retired). Fire Protection Publications, Oklahoma State University. How to put the public’s interests first in your program, and earn trust and goodwill in the process
  29. 29. Further Reading… The Wildland/Urban Interface: What’s Really at Risk?. Paul Summerfelt. Winter 2003. Fire Management Today (Vol. 63, No. 1). http://www.fs.fed.us/fire/fmt/ Why simple definitions of interface areas simply do not work Scenic Duty. James William Witt, PhD. May 2007. Fire Chief Magazine. http://firechief.com/tactics/firefighting_scenic_duty/index. html An in-depth look at the mechanics of interagency coordination, planning and cooperation… plus a 4-C approach to interface planning The 4TH Element. Jeremy Keller. Apr 2006. Fire Chief Magazine. http://firechief.com/wildland/firefighting_th_element/index.ht ml More information on the 4-E approach to wildfire mitigation
  30. 30. Jeremy A. Keller Wildland-Urban Interface Fire Specialist Gulf Coast National Wildlife Refuge ComplexTel: 228-497-5780 x30 // Cell: 228-990-0673 jeremy_keller@fws.gov