Wildland fire risk to people and property continues to be a growing international problem – threatening lives and property over large areas – and the International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC), representing the leadership of firefighters and emergency responders worldwide, and the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), a recognized leader on fire and life safety, have announced a formalized relationship with the United Kingdom's Chief Fire Officers Association (CFOA) to address risk management and wildland fire education.
Growing concerns about climate change, increased demands for new homes in the wildland/urban interface (WUI) and variations in land-management practices have pressed stakeholders across the United Kingdom to emphasize holistic solutions to wildland-fire mitigation and safety education that include land-management agencies, civic leaders and homeowners.
"The problem of wildland fires is not just an American problem but an international one," said James M. Shannon, NFPA’s president. "NFPA is pleased to join the International Association of Fire Chiefs and the Chief Fire Officers Association to expand the outreach of wildland fire safety information and initiatives throughout the United Kingdom. It is a great opportunity to collaborate on a common goal –reducing the losses associated with wildfire.”
An MOU signed by the IAFC, NFPA and CFOA will serve as the framework of cooperation between the three organizations in delivering WUI education and wildland-fire risk-mitigation programs based on existing programs available from NFPA and IAFC.
"The research, toolkits and best practices compiled by the IAFC's wildland fire policy committee and Ready, Set, Go! programs are meant to help any area threatened by wildland fires, domestically and internationally," said Chief Bill Metcalf, IAFC president and chairman of the board. "Working with NFPA, CFOA and other organizations on initiatives like this spreads the important message of creating safer, fire-adapted communities even further."
CFOA is a membership association representing all fire and rescue services in England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales, works to reduce the loss of life, personal injury and damage to property and the environment by improving the quality of firefighting, rescue, fire protection and fire prevention across the United Kingdom. The organization will recommend and implement its own WUI programs and wildland-fire mitigation strategies and codes aimed at reducing WUI property loss and increasing public awareness of wildfire risk throughout the UK.
The newly formed partnership will allow CFOA to base the development of its materials and programs on the IAFC's Ready, Set, Go! program and NFPA's Firewise Communities/USA and Fire Adapted Communities programs.
“The Firewise and Ready, Set, Go! program messages are compatible with the wildfire community resilience planning and personal safety messages that CFOA Wildfire Group wishes to disseminate," said Chief Fire Officer Roy Wilsher, Chief Fire Officers Association operations director. "The success of these national WUI programs in the United States sets a precedent for the potential adoption of a similar approach in the UK and Europe, and where appropriate, could include the development of a similar UK Firewise recognition and/or a Ready, Set, Go! program led by UK Fire and Rescue Services and their partners within the wildfire community."