World Fire Congress convenes global leaders in Washington D.C.

May 14, 2024

Firefighting organisations and officials address global challenges

Last week, FEMA and the U.S. Fire Administration hosted delegates from over 50 nations at the inaugural World Fire Congress in Washington, D.C.

As reported by FEMA, the event aligned with the Biden-Harris Administration’s efforts to reduce fire risks and address the growing issue of wildfires, along with enhancing firefighter health and safety.

The congress brought together top firefighting organisations and government officials to share best practices and enhance global response capabilities amidst increasing climate change-induced disasters.

Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro N. Mayorkas addressed the delegates: “What you did here these past few days and the many advances to the work of firefighting and fire prevention that will grow from it in the years ahead, will save lives — of first responders and of all those who depend on them.”

He emphasised the collective obligation to support firefighters worldwide through the new World Fire Congress.

FEMA Administrator highlights global connectivity

FEMA Administrator Deanne Criswell highlighted the interconnected nature of global disasters in her opening remarks: “The world has watched as our ecosystem — our shared home — has been challenged at every turn. And the reality is, we’ve never been more closely connected.

“A disaster in one nation can cause ripple effects across the globe. That’s why this World Fire Congress is so important — it’s an opportunity to build upon these relationships and continue to share knowledge and best practices with one another.”

Criswell stressed the importance of international collaboration in tackling shared challenges and improving global firefighting strategies.

The congress aimed to establish strong relationships among countries to enhance collective firefighting capabilities.

Addressing firefighter safety and health

U.S. Fire Administrator Dr. Lori Moore-Merrell spoke on the critical role of firefighters during emergencies: “We know that when emergencies or disasters strike, firefighters respond.

“Your responders are first on scene in often unexpected circumstances and unfamiliar surroundings.

“They are exposed to toxic chemicals or conditions that threaten their physical wellbeing and even their lives.”

Dr. Moore-Merrell acknowledged the common challenges faced by nations and emphasised the need for unified priorities.

The congress underscored the importance of firefighter safety and health, highlighting the shared risks and the necessity for international cooperation to address these issues effectively.

Establishing a global fire service leadership network

This historic event established a global fire service leadership network aimed at supporting and strengthening fire services worldwide.

The network’s mission includes developing solutions to shared problems and enhancing global cooperation.

This international collaboration will be guided by the Statement of Founding Principles and Objectives, with the congress set to occur biennially.

The next World Fire Congress will be hosted by the United Kingdom Home Office and National Fire Chiefs Council in 2026.

FSJA comment

The inaugural World Fire Congress marks a significant step towards global collaboration in firefighting and disaster response.

By bringing together leaders from over 50 nations, the congress highlighted the importance of shared knowledge and unified strategies in addressing the growing challenges posed by climate change and other disasters.

The establishment of a global fire service leadership network is a crucial development in enhancing international cooperation and support among fire services.

This initiative reflects a commitment to improving firefighter safety, health, and overall response capabilities on a global scale.

As the congress continues biennially, it will play a vital role in fostering ongoing collaboration and innovation in the field of firefighting.

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