For 26 years the International Association of Wildland Fire (IAWF) has made an unwavering commitment to serve the global wildland fire community. As shown below, we strive to facilitate communication, provide leadership, promote a better understanding of wildland fire, and build on the belief that an understanding of this dynamic force is vital for natural resource management, for firefighter safety, and for harmonious interaction between people and their environment. We also seek to advance knowledge and education and science and management capability.
During this time, the IAWF has been involved in a large number of activities. We have conducted numerous conferences, supported other conferences, sponsored webinars, maintained an active website (www.iawfonline.org), and published a refereed scientific journal (International Journal of Wildland Fire) and a popular magazine (Wildfire). As we complete the first quarter of 2016 and look at what has been achieved so far this year, it is apparent that activities in global wildland fire are not slowing down, but intensifying at a steady pace.
So far in 2016, the 5th International Fire Behavior and Fuels Conference was completed in April, the 2016 IAWF Award recipients were selected and recognized, support was provided to the Eighth International Seminar of Fire and Explosion Hazards in the Peoples’ Republic of China in April, and planning and partnership support were provided to the International Conference on Forest Fires and WUI Fires in Aix en Provence, France to be held in May 2016. Support and assistance continues to the Western Regional Strategy Committee for the National Cohesive Wildland Fire Management Strategy in the United States. IAWF has also been represented at and/or supported other conferences including the Wildland Urban Interface 2016 Conference and the Aerial Firefighting International 2016 Conference.
The 5th International Fire Behavior and Fuels Conference just completed was a joint offering at two concurrent locations: Melbourne, Australia, and Portland, OR, USA. This was a large-scale effort aimed at showcasing the latest information regarding the many issues associated with fuels, fire behavior, large wildfires, and the future of wildland fire management. In these areas, significant issues abound. New solutions are needed. Obvious targets like increased funding are short-term fixes, less likely to have success, where long-term commitments, strategies, and actions are necessary. Management of fuel complexes; accelerated fuel treatments; preparation of communities to withstand wildfire; incorporation of learning, experience, emerging science and technology; as well as sustainable funding for wildfire suppression and fuel treatments are vital for success. The combined-location conference was well attended, presented a remarkable amount of new and pertinent information, and was highly productive, as evidenced by the following information:
- Combined Attendance: 650
- Workshops: 13
- Special Sessions: 7
- Plenary/Keynote Presentations: 9
- Oral Presentations: 263
- Panel Discussions: 3
- Poster Presentations: 68
- Lightning Information Sessions: 7
- Campfire Sessions (discussion workshops): 4
- World Café: 2
- Exhibitors: 37
- Field Trips: 4
- Wellness/Yoga Opportunities:6
- After Hours/Social Networking: 8
IAWF 2016 Award recipients were selected and recognition was provided at the Fire Behavior and Fuels Conference.
Dr. Kevin Tolhurst, Associate Professor in Fire Ecology and Management in the Department of Forest and Ecosystem Science at the University of Melbourne, based in Creswick, Australia, received the IAWF 2016 Ember Award at Melbourne for his long and outstanding career as a fire scientist. In 2015, he was made a Member of the Order of Australia in recognition of his contribution to fire science and the community over a long period.
Kevin has developed and taught a number of fire related subjects at undergraduate and post-graduate level as well as a national Fire Behaviour Analyst course for technical specialists in the fire and land management agencies. His current research activities and interests include developing and applying a bushfire risk management decision support system, improving wildfire behaviour prediction, developing prescribed burning techniques and guidelines, and advancing landscape-scale fire ecology management. Kevin’s unique approach and perspective have set him apart from others and made him able to produce excellent scientific research but also to allow him to use his knowledge to provide support to fire and land management agencies which has led to improved fire ecology and management outcomes across Australia.
James Brenner, Fire Management Administrator for the Florida Forest Service, based in Tallahassee, Florida, USA, received the first IAWF Excellence in Wildland Fire Management Award. This award was established to honor achievements, excellence, and lasting contributions in the management of wildland fire programs. Jim’s nomination listed him as one of the smartest, most innovative, and visionary people in the wildland fire management business. He has worked diligently throughout his career to place the State of Florida in the national forefront. His accomplishments have served to improve prescribed fire, smoke management, training and education, fire behavior prediction, and risk assessment at the State level with significant national implications and benefits. Specifically, he has authored the Florida Prescribed Fire Act, conceived and authored Florida’s Wildland Fire Risk Assessment system, developed a Certified Burner Program and Interagency Prescribed Fire Training Program, developed the Fire in Florida’s Ecosystem program that has educated more than 7500 teachers, improved and taught fire behavior prediction training courses, and wrote the first Smoke Management Plan to be approved by the EPA.
Dr. Guillermo Rein, Senior Lecturer in Mechanical Engineering at the Imperial College, London, England, was the recipient of the IAWF 2016 Early Career Award. Dr. Rein was not able to attend either of the conference venues so will receive the award at a conference later this year. This award was established to recognize promising early-career professionals who have demonstrated outstanding ability in wildland fire during the initial stage of their career. Dr. Rein is a prominent fire behavior scientist, studying ignition, combustion emission, smoldering and interactions of fires and ecosystems. Significant contributions in his career have been made in the area of smoldering wildfires, where he has revolutionized the experimental and numerical description of these fires, translating science from engineering to applications such as fire history, emissions and climate change. His work has been published in over 67 journal papers, receiving more than 1700 citations. Among these, 17 journal papers and 6 keynote lectures have focused specifically on wildland fires.
Also, at both conference venues, special appreciation for service to IAWF was given to five individuals who recently completed their tenure on the Board of Directors. These individuals not only gave considerable time and effort to the Board, but also served on Committees, as Executive Officers, conference chairs, and planners, helping make IAWF activities successful. Individuals departing from the IAWF board are Alan Goodwin and Richard Thornton (Australia), Kris Johnson (Canada), and Gene Rogers and Ron Steffens (USA).
Two individuals who have been highly supportive of IAWF during their career received special recognition at the Portland venue. Many of our activities would not have been of as high of quality or even possible without the support in many ways provided by Tom Harbour and John Cissel.
Tom Harbour is a recognized expert in wildland fire and aviation management policy and operations. He recently retired from the US Forest Service after serving the longest term to date as the National Fire and Aviation Management Director (National Fire Chief) in the more than one hundred-year history of the agency. During this time, Tom elevated professionalism and increased performance in the US Forest Service, provided valuable global fire leadership, and was a strong supporter of IAWF conferences and activities.
John Cissel is the Program Manager of the Joint Fire Science Program at the National Interagency Fire Center in Boise, ID, USA. He will soon be retiring and his leadership has significantly strengthened the science component of wildland fire management. His efforts advanced communication between science and management, facilitated fire research, improved technology transfer, and markedly improved management applications and capability. He has been a strong supporter of IAWF and helped make many of our endeavors successful.
Throughout the remainder of 2016, continued conference planning will take place. Preparations for the 2nd International Smoke Symposium are well underway and this event will be held in November 2016, in Long Beach, CA, USA. Planning has been initiated for the 14th International Wildland Fire Safety Summit with an innovative approach proposing to combine this event with the International Congress on Prescribed Fires in Barcelona, Spain in 2017 (keep watch for updates on this event). It is likely that a Human Dimensions track will be incorporated into this conference also. Planning has also begun for a joint IAWF – Association for Fire Ecology sponsored Large Fire Continuum Conference as a follow-up to the 2014 Large Wildland Fires: Social, Political and Ecological Effects Conference, co-hosted by these associations. Look for this conference in 2018.
Excellence in wildland fire management is a goal that we strive for. Conferences such as these strongly support the advancement of knowledge and education and expansion of science and management. The IAWF remains committed to work and partner diligently with other wildland fire associations, organizations, and interested parties to provide leadership and communication, and to hone wildland fire knowledge, safety, and capability through our many existing and future activities.