NFPA Conference addresses wildfire issues with multiple educational sessions in Orlando

June 21, 2024

NFPA Conference features wildfire problem-solving sessions

Nearly 15 sessions focused on the wildfire problem were presented at this week’s NFPA Conference & Expo in Orlando.

Topics ranged from the role of community risk reduction (CRR) in mitigating wildland urban interface (WUI) fires to the significance of effective building design.

Presenters examined the various challenges wildfires pose and the necessary elements for effective mitigation.

As reported by the NFPA, the event provided critical insights and resources for public safety personnel, community leaders, and allied professionals, emphasizing the importance of collaborative efforts to improve wildfire preparedness and response.

Community risk reduction and wildfire

One of the CRR-focused sessions, “WUI + CRR = Win,” was presented by Vincent Anderson of the Redlands Fire Department and James Gillespie of the Newport Beach Fire Department.

They shared best practices and lessons learned for defensible space inspections, collaborative permitting, community organization, and new development review processes.

The importance of effective emergency communication with local stakeholders was also highlighted.

The presentation featured NFPA resources designed to enhance community resilience, such as NFPA 1144, Standard for Reducing Structure Ignition Hazards from Wildland Fire, and NFPA 1300, Standard on Community Risk Assessment and Community Risk Reduction Plan Development.

Anderson and Gillespie aimed to equip public safety personnel and community leaders with the information and resources needed to support their stakeholders in the WUI.

On Tuesday, Michele Steinberg, director of the NFPA Wildfire Division, and Karen Berard-Reed, the CRR lead at NFPA, led a session titled “The Role of Community Risk Reduction in Wildfire Solutions.” Steinberg noted: “Resilience is the name of the game.” They discussed how the CRR process and the Outthink Wildfire strategy from NFPA work together to provide a proactive risk management roadmap.

Emergency preparedness and federal recommendations

In the session “Missed Opportunities: NFPA 1600 and the Lahaina Wildfire,” SeaRay Beltran of PIRM Group International LLC and Orlando Hernandez of the Texas Department of Public Safety used the Lahaina Wildfire in Maui, Hawaii, as a case study.

They demonstrated how NFPA 1600, Standard on Continuity, Emergency, and Crisis Management (now NFPA 1660), can be used proactively to protect communities and reduce the impact of disasters.

On Wednesday, Steinberg led a discussion on wildfire mitigation and management recommendations that were presented to the U.S. Congress last year.

The session, which included Neil Chapman of the Flagstaff Fire Department, Kimiko Barrett of Headwaters Economics, and Tyson Bertone-Riggs of the Alliance for Wildfire Resilience, addressed the ongoing wildfire crisis in the United States.

It explained how the Wildland Fire Mitigation and Management Commission developed a comprehensive set of recommendations to address the complexity of wildfire disasters.

The presenters outlined key recommendations from the commission, emphasizing the need for actions across all phases of wildfire, in both built and natural environments.

These actions aim to reduce property loss, environmental impacts, and ensure public health and effective wildfire response.

Wildfire student research

In addition to the educational sessions, NFPA welcomed students from Europe, China, and the U.S. to share their research and project work.

Three wildfire-related research projects were presented:

  • Evaluating the Filtration and Breathability of Commercial Respiratory Products for Wildland Firefighters by Melissa Armistead at North Carolina State University.
  • Simplified Burner Experiments to Investigate the Origin of Fluctuating Characteristics of Spreading Wildland Fires by Abhinandan Singh at Worcester Polytechnic Institute.
  • Statistical Study of Firebrand Generation Under Steady Wind Conditions by Fernando Ebensperger at Worcester Polytechnic Institute.

These presentations were part of a broader array of wildfire-focused events at the conference, offering attendees insights into the latest research and best practices in wildfire management.

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