Photo Credit: Idaho Firewise Garden Tour. Photo by J. McAdams


Last week, the Boise Fire Department had the privilege of hosting eight firefighters from the Austin Fire Department. The Austin firefighters were in Boise as part of a learning exchange sponsored by the Fire Adapted Communities Learning Network. We discussed policy, methodology, hurdles and implementation of mitigation activities, and wildfire operations.

On Monday, Justice Jones, FAC Program Manager for the Austin Fire Department Wildfire Division, spoke at our 3rd Annual Southwest Idaho Wildfire Mitigation Forum. We had approximately 60 people in attendance, which included Federal agency partners, fire departments and districts, insurance companies, utility companies, university professors and students, homeowners, not-for-profits, county emergency managers, etc. Local news Channel 7 covered this exchange, as did a local print media outlet, the Boise Weekly.

We had an after-hours social that evening where several of our chiefs and local partners and cooperators had the opportunity to meet and network with the Austin delegation.

Fire Scenario & Mitigation Field Trip. Photo Credit: J. McAdams

Fire Scenario & Mitigation Field Trip. Photo Credit: J. McAdams

On Tuesday, Boise Fire Department personnel presented on the wildfire threat in the greater Boise area. They also outlined a scenario, which we later conducted in the field. Local news Channel 2 covered this field trip, as well as goat grazing for wildfire mitigation.

Wednesday we went on a tour of the August 2008 Oregon Trail Fire area. This fire, tragically, included loss of life. However, it also precipitated policy and ordinance change, mitigation activities and cooperative partnerships. We also visited an area where goats have been grazing a fuel break along the roadside in Boise’s Military Reserve Park.

Thursday we went on a tour of the Boise District Bureau of Land Management office and yard, as well as the National Interagency Fire Center (dispatch center, warehouse, communications shop, smoke jumper base and Wildland Firefighter Memorial). In the afternoon we had a company provide a short class on pressure-treated, fire-resistant cedar roofing and decking material.

In some free time, the group from Austin took the opportunity to tour the Basque Block and ate at a Basque Restaurant, toured the Old Idaho Penitentiary, ate some authentic Mexican food, and enjoy a couple of local micro-breweries.

It was a very productive week, and reemphasized the notion that these learning exchanges are valuable from the standpoint of learning, but also from the standpoint of building a network of national partnerships with other agencies facing similar threats and issues.

Thank you to the fine folks from the Austin Fire Department who participated in this learning exchange. It was a pleasure hosting your group. Thank you, also, to our local partners and cooperators, who assisted with the exchange, particularly Josh Renz, Mitigation and Education Coordinator with the Boise District BLM. Finally, and most importantly, thank you to the Fire Adapted Communities Learning Network and for sponsoring this excellent learning exchange; without your support, this valuable exchange would not have taken place.


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