FAC Net Members Get Together at 2016 WUI Conference
Authors: Wendy Fulks
Several of us who help coordinate the FAC Net attended last week’s Wildland Urban Interface Conference in Reno, Nevada. There were three main session tracks: fire adapted communities, operations and suppression, and wildland fire policy and tools. Below are some of my take-homes from the conference.
- Keynote speaker Robert Bonnie (undersecretary of the U.S. Department of Agriculture and co-chair of the Wildland Fire Leadership Council) acknowledged that the U.S. faces daunting, complex challenges related to fire. He highlighted the Cohesive Strategy, and gave examples of how stakeholders are increasingly aligned and cooperating on wildland fire issues.
- A session on the “Cohesive Strategy Playbook” was offered by representatives of the Wildland Fire Leadership Council, including the three regional Cohesive Strategy coordinators. The session offered success studies from Florida, New Jersey and California.
- Paul Summerfelt (Flagstaff, Fire Department) drove home the message that WUI building codes, while important, need to be implemented alongside other FAC strategies or tools in order to be effective. This session, as well as others, touched on some of the challenges related to enforcing WUI codes and ordinances. Paul offered this resource for cities that are thinking about adopting a WUI code.
- Chief Erik Litzenberg (Santa Fe, New Mexico) participated on a panel where he highlighted several non-traditional partnering strategies his city has nurtured to advance fire adaptation efforts. Among those strategies are the creation of youth wildland fire crews and collaboration with conservation groups.
In addition to staff, there were many FAC Net members in attendance. FAC Net members and staff attended sessions, received awards, gave talks, moderated panels and worked in the “FAC pavilion” to raise awareness about the Network—and that was just the formal part of the meeting.
In between sessions and after hours, members and staff also took advantage of the opportunity to meet new people, strengthen connections, share stories and ideas, eat together, and hone their bowling skills.
Thanks to the International Association of Fire Chiefs for organizing this excellent learning and networking opportunity.
What was your favorite part of the 2016 WUI conference? Tell us in the comments below.