FEMA Report Spotlights Wildfire Challenges

Strategies include creating safer communities by implementing and enforcing building codes and standards.   January 25, 2023

By Dan Hounsell, Senior Editor

The wildfire season in the Western United States has unfortunately evolved into a nearly year-round season, and maintenance and engineering managers in institutional and commercial facilities find that wildfire resilience has become a higher priority for them than ever. Now the Federal Energy Management Agency (FEMA) is moving forward on efforts to identify and address the issue. 

The U.S. Fire Administration (USFA), a component of FEMA, recently released a summary of the U.S. Fire Administrator’s Report, which outlines and previews crucial recommendations to address the nationwide wildfire problem, such as preparing all firefighters for climate-driven increase in wildfires and establishing a firefighter cancer screening and prevention strategy.   

These proposed solutions have become the basis for the Fire Service National Strategy, championed by the USFA, and include: 

  • Creating safer communities by implementing and enforcing codes and standards, especially in wildfire-urban interface areas and in underserved and vulnerable populations.   
  • Preparing firefighters for the climate-driven increase in wildfires in the wildland urban interface (WUI) by providing them with the proper training and equipment. 
  • Investing in a national apprenticeship program to address the shortage of firefighters and to make the fire service more diverse and inclusive. 
  • Establishing a comprehensive firefighter cancer strategy that invests in research, provides access to screening for firefighters, and reduces and eliminates exposure to dangerous contaminates such as PFAS, otherwise known as “forever chemicals,” which have been linked to cancer and other health problems. 
  • Providing behavioral health resources and suicide prevention initiatives for all firefighters. 

Dan Hounsell is senior editor of the facilities market. He has more than 25 years of experience writing about facilities maintenance, engineering and management. 


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