By Antoinette Jini
General Manager: Working On Fire
The 8th International Wildland Fire Conference (IWFC) in Porto, Portugal, featured a Risk Assessment Session that explored the various levels of engagement on how impacts are perceived and to which extent they are deemed as acceptable. The session also looked at how community-driven solutions can help define as low as possible levels of acceptable risk, how decisions are made, and how scientific knowledge is incorporated in the decision-making process.
The speakers at the session discussed how risk assessment can impact public policies and insurances. Some key points that were covered included:
- Understanding Wildfire Risk and Potential Impact: Wildfire risk is a complex issue that can be difficult to quantify. However, there are a number of factors that can be considered when assessing wildfire risk, including climate change, population growth, and land use.
- Resilience to Wildfire Events: Communities can build resilience to wildfire events by taking a number of steps, such as clearing brush and debris, creating defensible space around homes, and developing evacuation plans.
- Defining Risk Appetite & Policy: Risk appetite is the amount of risk that an individual or organization is willing to take. Policy can be used to manage risk by setting limits on acceptable levels of risk.
- Designing Optimal Risk Solution: There is no one-size-fits-all solution to wildfire risk. The optimal solution will vary depending on the specific circumstances. However, some general principles that can be applied include:
- Mitigation: This involves taking steps to reduce the likelihood or severity of a wildfire event.
- Prevention: This involves taking steps to stop a wildfire from starting or spreading.
- Response: This involves taking steps to control a wildfire that has started.
- Reducing Wildfire Risk and Impacts through Inclusive Landscape Governance: Inclusive landscape governance is a process that involves all stakeholders in the decision-making process. This can help to ensure that decisions are made that are in the best interests of all.
Collective Action to Reduce the Wildfire Risk
There are a number of things that individuals, communities, and governments can do to reduce the wildfire risk. Some of these include:
- Educating yourself about wildfire risk: The more you know about wildfire risk, the better prepared you will be to take steps to reduce it.
- Creating defensible space around your home: Defensible space is an area around your home that has been cleared of brush and debris. This can help to slow the spread of a wildfire if it does start.
- Developing an evacuation plan: In the event of a wildfire, it is important to have a plan for how you will evacuate your home. This plan should include a designated meeting place and a way to communicate with family members.
- Supporting your local fire department: Your local fire department is the first line of defense against wildfires. By supporting your local fire department, you are helping to ensure that they are prepared to respond to a wildfire.
By taking these steps, we can all work together to reduce the wildfire risk and protect our communities.