Wildland Urban Interface

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Moving mitigation forward: The past, present, and future of hazard mitigation assistance

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This webinar will take a close look at FEMA’s burgeoning Building Resilient Infrastructure and Communities (BRIC) program and what the next steps in the effort will be. BRIC, which was recently funded as part of the Disaster Recovery Reform Act of 2018, focuses on public infrastructure projects that can lower risk and increase community resilience. As a disaster mitigation program, BRIC allows the agency to invest grant money in infrastructure projects before a disaster. To date, FEMA has collected more than 4,000 comments from members of the public, local and regional partners, and representatives of other federal agencies to ensure the program meets the needs of the entire community.

Eric Letvin, Deputy Assistant Administrator for Mitigation, Federal Emergency Management Agency presents.

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Ethical and efficient infrastructure resilience: Battle for better building codes

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This webinar explores the social challenges to implementing codes that support a resilient building stock. A public survey by University of Colorado Boulder researchers found that the public is willing to pay for more-resilient buildings, yet several social forces beyond cost pose obstacles to enhancing building-code performance objectives. Many builders, for instance, oppose any code changes that increase construction cost. Engineers might sometimes favor private interests over code changes, which can hinder consensus and support. For legislators, the future benefits of code changes aren’t immediate enough to be politically expedient. In short, even while the technical case for creating resilient building stock is strong, there are factors that must be overcome to implement it. This webinar will use several recent scholarly studies to examine the ethics and economics behind those factors and how we can address challenges head on.

Keith Porter, Research Professor, Civil, Environmental, and Architectural Engineering, University of Colorado Boulder presents.

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Exploring the influence of local social context on strategies for achieving fire adapted communities

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This study evaluated 19 interactive focus groups across five communities spanning five Western US states using a mixed-method design that allowed for the collection of quantitative and qualitative data. Results indicate a number of significant differences in effectiveness ratings for adaptation approaches across communities, including requirement of vegetation mitigations on private properties, fostering Firewise communities, and zoning efforts in fire-prone areas. We used qualitative data to help explain the differences between communities as a function of unique local social context operating in each location. We also compare our results with existing frameworks promoting community “archetypes” to evaluate their continued use in wildfire management planning or response.

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Wildland Urban Interface wildfire mitigation desk reference guide PMS 051

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The Wildland Urban Interface Wildfire Mitigation Desk Reference Guide provides basic background information on relevant programs and terminology for those, whether community members or agency personnel, seeking to enhance their community’s wildfire mitigation efforts.

The four primary objectives of this reference guide are to:

  • Provide a reference to assist with integrating wildland urban interface mitigation principles into national wildland fire training;
  • Promote common wildfire mitigation language and culture;
  • Establish an authoritative source for wildland urban interface mitigation information; and
  • Provide consistent definitions for use by all media.
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Building loss to wildfires in the WUI in the US

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Wildfires are a natural element of many ecosystems and have a great impact on society by destroying property and sometimes by taking lives. In the United States alone, thousands of individual fires occur every year and the number of both burned hectares and destroyed buildings are higher than ever since recorded fire history. Six of the 10 fires with the largest losses of lives and homes of the 20th century occurred in the wildland urban interface (WUI), and all of them occurred within the last 20 years. Given that billions of dollars are being allocated to fuel management and fire suppression and that the main fire suppression goal is to protect people and property, it is necessary to understand the factors related to vegetation, terrain and spatial arrangement that contribute to building loss from wildfires, and examine nationwide spatial patterns of vulnerability and rebuilding.

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A socio-ecological approach to mitigating wildfire vulnerability in the WUI: Case study from the 2017 Thomas Fire

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We utilize geospatial data, recorded interviews, and program documentation to synthesize how those strategies subsequently impacted the advance of the 2017 Thomas Fire on the community of Montecito under extreme fire danger conditions. Despite the extreme wind conditions and interviewee estimates of potentially hundreds of homes being consumed, only seven primary residences were destroyed by the Thomas Fire, and firefighters indicated that pre-fire mitigation activities played a clear, central role in the outcomes observed. This supports prior findings that community partnerships between agencies and citizens are critical for identifying and implementing place-based solutions to reducing wildfire vulnerability.

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Fine scale assessment of cross boundary wildfire events in the western US

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On average, one third of the area burned by predicted wildfires was non-local, meaning that the source ignition was on a different land tenure. Land tenures with smaller parcels tended to receive more incoming fire on a proportional basis, while the largest fires were generated from ignitions in national parks, national forests, public and tribal lands. Among the 11 western States, the amount and pattern of cross-boundary fire varied substantially in terms of which land tenures were mostly exposed, by whom and to what fire sizes. We also found spatial variability in terms of community exposure among States, and more than half of the predicted structure exposure was caused by ignitions on private lands or within the wildland-urban interface areas. This study addressed gaps in existing wildfire risk assessments, that do not explicitly consider cross-boundary fire transmission and do not identify the sources of fire. The results can be used by State, Federal, and local fire planning organizations to help improve risk mitigation programs.

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Influences on the adoption and implementation of a wildfire mitigation program in an Idaho City

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This study used focus groups with local officials and residents in McCall, Idaho, to better understand their application for formal, city-wide recognition from the Firewise program. Results indicate the importance of early public involvement in adaptation of wildfire mitigation programs because many local residents indicated confusion over what Firewise recognition meant for them. Both professionals and residents thought Firewise could improve local capacity to address risk but also identified critical needs for adapting the program, including concerns about impacts to area aesthetics, differences between seasonal and full-time residents, and support for locally based organization rather than federal or state government organization that could infringe on personal freedoms.

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Let’s fix the fire problem: Here’s a solution

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Fire is the first of three Great Constants in our lives. Change is the second. A web of change, consisting of population growth; density of homes built in outlying areas; new home construction; weather drying and heating; biomass build-up from fire suppression, management, etc. is converging on our communities, landscapes, economies, and collective resources. That convergence is creating negative impact and loss at unprecedented rates. This webinar discusses solutions to the fire problem.

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Building a wildfire-resistant home: Codes and costs

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This study finds negligible cost differences between a typical home and a home constructed using wildfire-resistant materials and design features. Decades of research and post-fire assessments have provided clear evidence that building materials and design, coupled with landscaping on the property, are the most important factors influencing home survivability during a wildfire.

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