JAN 2017

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Page 47 of 83

BRIAN SCHAEFFER is the interim chief for the Spokane, WA, Fire Department. His profes- sional life has spanned more than 25 years, serving in fire departments in the Midwest and Pacific Northwest, in progressive ranks up to and including fire chief. He serves on numerous local and state public safety and health-related committees and has lectured on issues such as the psychology of decision-making, servant leadership and high-performing organizations. Aside from his family, his passion from an early age has been to contribute to the fire service. WILDLAND FIREFIGHTING STRATEGY & TACTICS Preparing for WUI Fires The definition listed in the 2001 Fed- eral Register notice more correctly identi- fies WUI as a community that exists where humans and their development meet or intermix with wildland fuel. Section 301 of the 2015 Wildland-Urban Interface Code adds enabling legislation for jurisdictions. The section assists fire agencies in establish- ing some baseline criteria for the designa- tion of WUI areas and a methodology. But while regulations and standards concerning WUI can be found throughout fire service and public safety doctrine, the overwhelm- ing nature of WUI risk to the U.S. fire ser- vice continues to be an afterthought for many—until a cata strophic event occurs. Real risks The 10 most fire-prone states are located in the West and have received far more than their share of population growth. In fact, nearly half of the population growth in the United States has occurred in the West; however, WUI fire hazards are not confined to this region (Kennedy & Troy, 2007). WUI fires routinely occur in the Southwest, Midwest and other isolated states, such as Alaska and Hawaii. Overall wildland fire activity has amplified considerably over the past 30 years as average temperatures and extreme droughts have steadily increased. Science supports firefighters' continued belief that our wildland fire seasons continue to get longer in duration—in fact, about two and a half months longer than was the average 25 years ago. In the recent times, we have expe- rienced droughts that have increased in duration, severity and frequency as a result of increased temperature (Grois- man & Knight, 2008). The foundation of these trends can be attributed to four pri- mary classifications—all of which relate to human activity: 1. Our state and national fire-suppression philosophy and accompanying policy, contributing to increasing fuel loads in forests and the WUI; T he term wildland/urban interface (WUI) has been used for more than 20 years to identify an area where residential homes are built in a known wildland area (Gorte, 2008). By Brian Schaeffer Response plans and deployment tips to help fire organizations strategize for future incidents Photo by Mike Meadows 48 l Firehouse l January 2017

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