At an IAWF Awards Ceremony and Dinner in Boise, Idaho on October 27, the International Association of Wildland Fire honored four wildfire professionals.
Ember Award for Excellence in Wildland Fire Science, 2017 Recipient: Brian Stocks
Wildfire Science Specialist, B.J. Stocks Wildfire Investigations Ltd., Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, Canada.
The IAWF Ember Award for Excellence in Wildland Fire Science has been given since 2006. It was established to recognize sustained excellence in research contributions to wildland fire science, innovative solutions to important wildland fire challenges, and effective and appropriate communication of wildland fire science and research results. The name “Ember” reflects the fact that research and science often move slowly, and their benefits or impacts may not be apparent for years.
Brian has had a long and highly productive career dedicated to the advancement of wildland fire science and management. His work exactly typifies what the Ember Award stands for; he has been truly instrumental and effective in producing research contributions to wildland fire science, developing innovative solutions to important wildland fire challenges, and ensuring effective and appropriate communication of wildland fire science and research results. As a Research Scientist for the Canadian Forestry Service for 35 years and continuing his support to wildland fire research after retirement, he has produced an outstanding record of scientifically original and important research papers broadly applicable across the global wildland fire community, while at the same time spending considerable effort to communicate and ensure that new science was delivered in usable forms to fire management agencies.
Brian’s commitment and dedication are clearly evident. A particularly noteworthy point is that he finished his career in the public service at the top level of the Canadian government’s Research Scientist category – a level reached by only a handful of researchers government-wide.
He is the author or co-author of more than 190 scientific papers including 20 book chapters. He has co-edited two books and served as a guest-editor of special issues of scientific journals. He ahs earned numerous awards for his achievements.
His fire science research emphasis areas are well rooted in areas that are immediate challenges facing wildland fire management, and include:
- Changing fire environments, subsequent fire behavior, and smoke and emissions: Brian has worked in a collaborative environment with research entities worldwide promoting fire behavior, atmospheric sciences, crown fire research and climate change.
He conceived and helped coordinate international, multi-disciplinary fire experiments in Canada such as the Ontario Mass Fire Experiment (1987-1990), which raised global awareness of biomass burning and its impact on global atmospheric chemistry, and the Northwest Territories’ International Crown Fire Modelling Experiment (1997-2000), which allowed rigorous study of two extremely high-intensity fire behaviour events and their impacts.
- Fire Behaviour and Fire Danger Rating: Through the 1980s, Brian led the Canadian Forestry Service’s Fire Danger Rating Working Group and oversaw the development of the world-renowned Canadian Forest Fire Danger Rating System (CFFDRS). This included a significant advancement of the inclusion of fuel types and quantitative fire behaviour prediction in the CFFDRS. His national leadership of the CFS fire research program during this time culminated in the publication of the Canadian Forest Fire Behavior (FBP) System in 1992 and the delivery of a comprehensive national technology transfer program to the Canadian fire management community.
- Fire Management in the WUI: He has been a member of official review teams for last two major WUI events in Canada (Slave Lake, 2011 and Fort McMurray, 2016), providing critical assessment and recommendations on changes to wildfire policy and organizational efficiency.
- Climate change: Before climate change became such a prominent research focus, Brian provided an early vision of the enormous impact that climate change could have on wildland fire management both in Canada and throughout the globe. This led to a significant research effort in Canada and numerous publications and international presentations. This work has helped practitioners and other scientists gain a better understanding of the impacts and implications of ongoing global warming in Canada and globally.
- Teaching and Outreach: Brian has served as an adjunct professor at the University of Toronto for over two decades, and is still an active advisor and mentor to many of the fire researchers working in Canada and abroad, which is a demonstration of his easy-going, selfless approach and his depth of professional experience.
- International significance: In addition to his decades-long leadership of fire research in Canada, Brian is also extremely well-known and respected in the international community as one of the world’s foremost experts in large-scale, field-based experimental burning. He coordinated Canadian participation in NASA’s recent ARCTAS experiment during the International Polar Year. He has led Canadian scientific delegations on experimental burning programs in Alaska, Siberia, South Africa, and Kenya.
- Sustained contributions: Even though he has retired from the Canadian government career, he continues to remain very active, helping shape the future of fire management in Canada through his central role in developing the Canadian Wildland Fire Strategy. He also worked with the CFS to define its fire research direction and carried out numerous projects for the Canadian Interagency Forest Fire Centre and the Canadian Council of Forest Ministers’ Wildland Fire Management Working Group. He continues serving today as the Canadian delegate to the United Nations Team of Fire Specialists.
He is particularly concerned and focused on the fact that wildland fire science and management issues are not just local but are global and global solutions have far-reaching influences at all levels.
Excellence in Wildland Fire Management, 2017 Recipient: Steven Miller
Chief of Bureau of Land Resources, St. Johns River Water Management District, Palatka, Florida, USA.
The IAWF Excellence in Fire Management Award was established in 2015 to honor achievements and excellence in the management of wildland fire programs. This award recognizes an individual who has made lasting contributions in program management and inspired others through their creativity, innovation, leadership, application, guidance, and communication in response to challenging and controversial wildland fire management issues.
Steve was nominated by his peers in wildland fire management who share the belief that he is one of the most energetic, passionate, and competent fire management professionals in the USA. He has provided a lasting influence and strong leadership role in both the operational and administrative roles of wildland fire suppression and prescribed fire programs across the Southeastern US. Steve has developed innovative Wildland-Urban Interface (WUI) fire use and protection programs as well as advocating and implementing public educational programs allowing homeowners to learn to adapt and live with wildland fire as a natural force. He has been actively involved in wildfire suppression responses across the country and selflessly travels and spends time away from home to support response efforts as possible. He is also actively involved in planning and implementing prescribed fire at all scales.
His work has direct relevance to all goals of the National Cohesive Wildland Fire Management Strategy and is helping inform, implement, and sustain future efforts; increase organizational knowledge; advance on-the-ground capabilities; and support increased landscape resiliency, community awareness, and preparedness.
Steve is an inspirational mentor and public speaker, a life-long student of wildland fire, and fully committed to returning fire to the landscape.
Early Career Award in Fire Science, 2017 Recipient: Dr. Travis Paveglio
Associate Professor, College of Natural Resources, Department of Natural Resources and Society, University of Idaho, Moscow, Idaho, USA.
The IAWF Early Career Award in Fire Science was established in 2015 to recognize a promising early-career professional who has demonstrated outstanding ability in any field of wildland fire science. Early career is nominally taken to include professionals who are under 40 years of age or within ten years of having earned their highest degree when nominated.
Travis’ research interests include wildfire, conflict and collaboration surrounding natural resource management, environmental hazards and climate change, natural resource policy, and environmental communication.
He is an accomplished researcher with 33 publications, exceptional success at obtaining grant funding, and a record of thorough and interesting research utilizing meta-analysis of over 20 years of case studies.
His work has direct relevance to mitigation programs in the wildland-urban interface, and will help inform future research and decision making in this critical area. He has produced valuable work that is both theoretical and practical, has an extensive range of peer-reviewed papers, with collaboration and cross-disciplinary expertise being cited. His work also has direct connection and application beyond just academia and agencies, with strong involvement with communities at risk from wildfires. His support to and mentoring of the next generation of wildfire scientists cannot go without note. He has developed Innovative approaches to resiliency and fire adapted communities, one of the hallmark goals of the National Cohesive Wildland Fire Management Strategy.
Early Career Award in Fire Operations, 2017 Recipient: Dr. Sara Brown
Program Specialist, US Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Innovation and Organizational Learning Research, Development, and Application (RD&A) Program, Bend, Oregon, USA.
The IAWF Early Career Award in Fire Operations was established in 2016 to recognize a promising early-career professional who has demonstrated outstanding ability in any field of wildland fire operations. Early career is nominally taken to include professionals who are under 40 years of age or within ten years of having started their entry-level position when nominated.
Sara’s work involves groundbreaking efforts to improve understanding and leverage workplace innovation and organizational adaptation to increase margin in a complex firefighting work environment.
Sara’s experience, involvement, and accomplishments span much of the breadth of wildland fire management. She is an accomplished leader and a strong role model for women in wildland fire management. She worked as a smokejumper and received the National Smokejumper Courage Award, given by the National Smokejumper Association for her work as a smokejumper. The award is a highly prestigious honor among smokejumpers and represents significant recognition by leaders and peers in wildland fire management. She also worked as a Hot Shot and Helitack crew-member; earned a Ph.D.; and taught, advised, and conducted research at the university level.
Sara influences people, outcomes, and is changing the face of wildland fire management. Her work is setting a foundation for meaningful, and hopefully life-saving learning from successes and failures in the firefighting system by promoting innovation, advancing learning, and developing new and improved risk management practices and communities of practice.