Each year, wildfire professionals from across the nation and even from other countries gather in Reno for the Wildland Urban Interface Conference sponsored by the International Association of Fire Chiefs. HWMO and its partners from Hawaii Fire Department and Guam Department of Agriculture Forestry and Soil Resources Division were represented at this year’s event from March 19-23. HWMO’s Community Outreach Coordinator, Pablo Beimler, spent several days in Nevada with the snowy slopes of Lake Tahoe punctuating the landscape. The Peppermill Resort played host to the event where several hundred firefighters, outreach specialists, scientists, planners, conservationists, insurance professionals, and others with a stake in wildfire protection gathered. During the first two days, Pablo took part in a workshop held by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security FEMA National Fire Academy. The workshop covered various strategies for developing Fire Adapted Communities, including many that HWMO has been implementing in Hawaii. A major theme throughout the workshop and the rest of the conference was the need for “shared responsibility” to tackle wildfire issues. It indeed takes a village — all stakeholders must play a role in wildfire protection.
The conference itself was filled with amazing networking opportunities and speakers. The Fire Adapted Communities Learning Network staff invited outreach and prevention specialists from across the nation to take part in various activities and get-togethers forging new partnerships and learning opportunities. HWMO is now connected to specialists from California to Colorado to Montana to Idaho to New Mexico to the East Coast…the list goes on! It was not all business — there were fun and games…literally. Many of the learning network members hit the arcades on the first night and, as a collaborative effort, won enough tickets for the grand prize: a new tiger mascot for the group!
Presentations and workshops covered a wide array of topics: Fire Adapted Communities, Fire Learning Exchanges, SimTable demonstrations, Fire Operations in the Swamp, a Presidential Transition and What it Means to the Wildland Fire Community, and more. Lessons learned from the Fort McMurray and Blue Cut fires were shared by those who led suppression efforts during the harrowing experiences. WUI 2017 was an incredible event and HWMO is extremely grateful for being a part of it this year. We thank IAFC for the opportunity to be ambassadors for this year’s conference.