TODAY, IN OUR WILDFIRE COMMUNITIES, we may well claim, with some due pride, that we possess some quality of commitment when it comes to the diversity, science, safety and health that are key to our evolving vitality. Since it seems clear that without inclusiveness and safety in our fire community, how will we of help to the broader communities we serve. Yet while so many of us are committed to and successful in these goals, it doesn’t take too many glances around the room or the fireline, and the reading of safety and diversity reports, to know that while our commitment may be strong, our delivery is still ramping up.
In this issue and in issues to come, we (as IAWF and as publishers of Wildfire magazine) wish to affirm the strengths that empower us today so we may extend our strengths and bridge the gaps — so we may invite and retain an inclusive, diverse, science- and safety-focused generation of professionals who may merge with us into this compelling profession.
Consider this a call to form a stronger, smarter, more connected, diverse, resilient and safer profession. In these pages we launch this call, beginning with two leaders in wildland fire — the vice presidents of the International Association of Wildland Fire (Toddi Steelman) and the Association of Fire Ecology (Karin Riley), who share a key initiative to consciously build a more diverse community of voices and expertise in our profession.
Beyond gender, race, age, experience, global connectivity, economic status, and a range of other characteristics that together will help us bridge our diversity gap, this issue examines how we can focus on our fundamentals — and what’s more fundamental than who we work with and serve (which should, on this fire globe, be nearly everyone)? — or how and where and from where we gather and share our ideas?
As Toddi and Karin write, “Greater inclusivity in all we practice will make us better wildfire practitioners.” A principle which can help us fill a range of gaps we face as practitioners, managers and scientists of wildfire and bushfire.
Continue reading the issue and we’ll explore a call for mentorship (in Mike DeGrosky’s Thoughts on Leadership column), which is such a key process for engaging new leaders. And in IAWF News, we thank the professional community that’s built when we gather at conferences, and we announce a pilot Mentorship Program, and we remember one of our ranks who has passed.
In our Fire Tools section, we remind folks of the community of practice that is gathered in the Incident Response Pocket Guide, with a new purple cover (which seems, in my mind at least, another subtle call for diversity?). The updated IRPG is worth it if only for the slightly revised but easier to use Medical Incident Report. (And in the spirit of community and as someone who has worked two medical incidents with the new Medical form, I simply say “thanks.”) We also share another safety innovation from the world of weather apps — the MyRadar platform now integrates wildfire locations and wind layers with real-time storm-tracking.
In our Features section, we look at wildfire science from two perspectives. First, three leaders of US fire science delivery reflect on where we are in and where we need to go in the world of focusing and applying fire science. Next, we share a peer-reviewed analysis — the first we know of in these pages to apply what’s typically been a science-journal approach compared to our typical fire-journalism and fire-practitioner approach.
And in our two closing columns, we look at how to bridge our current standard-operating-procedures so we might develop not just a Cohesive Fire Strategy (which we certainly need and are building upon), but also a unified safety culture and strategy.
WILDFIRE DESTROYS AND CREATES. As fire scientists, managers and practitioners we know this. Yet when the firestorm strikes, our science and profession are far-too-intimately entwined in the trauma of wildfire in our communities. We lose colleagues, or watch communities we know suffer the unmeasurable loss of citizens and homes.
In Wildfire issues past, we’ve shared our solace with colleagues and wildfire victims and survivors in South Africa, Australia, Canada, Chile, Portugal, the US and elsewhere.
Now, we share our hopes for recovery and resilience to fire managers and survivors in Greece and California, and wherever the fires are burning beyond our immediate response and point-protection and evacuation capabilities. We have much to learn and do as we learn from past disasters and seek to prevent the next. So the good work of our profession continues, with no shortage of objectives. Share what you’ve learned, perhaps as a writer or an IAWF mentor, so all our good efforts may coalesce in a new paradigm of fire resilience.