ICMA | blog
Wildfire Preparation and Response: National Preparedness Month, Part 2
9 September 2015 |
The United States Department of Agriculture Forest Service reported on September 8 that there are 37 large incident wildfires (100 acres or more occurring in timber, or a wildfire of 300 acres or more occurring in grass/sage) in the United States. Wildfires present a significant financial and administrative challenge for local governments. A single wildfire can damage a substantial amount of infrastructure, houses, and businesses in a community. As part of the National Preparedness Month blog series, this blog post outlines some useful resources to help prepare for and mitigate the negative impacts of wildfires on a community.
In your opinion, what is the most important component of a wildfire preparation plan? Share your answers below.
Knowledge Network Intern
The above collection of resources appears to be quite valuable to leaders and practitioners working to prepare for and respond to wildfires occurring in their communities. In many cases, these planning efforts can be strengthened by working across sectors and across agencies. Recent research from Public Administration Review on collaborative wildfire management provides key takeaways for practitioners when planning with partners from other agencies:
Be mindful of the impact of the varying missions of collaboration partners, and of how those missions influence perceptions of the ability to manage conflict and collaborate effectively. Cross-sector partners inevitably come to collaborations with varying organizational missions, even if they Share a Vision of Success (http://intersector.com/toolkit/share-a-vision-of-success/). We suggest that they Establish a Transparency of Viewpoints (http://intersector.com/toolkit/establish-transparency-of-viewpoints/) and have open, honest discussions about these perceived differences, which can be a powerful mitigation strategy. Collaborations that prioritize consensus building in building a common fact base (http://intersector.com/toolkit/build-a-common-fact-base/), agreeing on measures of success (http://intersector.com/toolkit/agree-on-measures-of-success/), and establishing a governance structure (http://intersector.com/toolkit/establish-a-governance-structure/) may also be better suited to address these perceived differences and mitigate the conflicts that may arise from them.
Work to build decision-making and project-management structures upon which all partners agree. When partners have confidence in the process used to establish formal systems and processes, they are more likely to have confidence in the decisions made.
You can read a more in depth explanation of this research on The Intersector Project blog, Intersector Insights, “Research to Practice: Wildfire management and perceived mission alignment.”
Additionally, our case study of the Flagstaff Watershed Protection Project (FWPP) provides insights on how to work with business, non-profit, and government partners to mitigate the risk of potentially devastating wildfires. With a Flagstaff Wildland Fire Management Officer coordinating FWPP activities, the FWPP plans to manage forest fuels and restore natural ecosystem functions, thinning out dense forests and reintroducing a low-intensity fire regime. You can learn more about the FWPP by reading the case in full online, “Reducing the risks of catastrophic wildfires in Flagstaff.”
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