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TO BURN OR NOT TO BURN: SUMMARY OF THE FORUM ON URBAN/WILDLAND FIRE
Improve fire warning and evacuation capabilities, with possible mandatory evacuation under conditions of extreme fire risk (equivalent to evacuation orders along coastal shorelines threatened by hurricanes), and
Strengthen insurance incentives to promote adoption of wildland fire risk mitigation guidelines set by the insurance industry or fire-related agency
The following are research challenges worthy of future consideration and study as identified by some forum participants:
The interaction of forest cover and climate change at different scales and trends in frequency of lightning and dry periods with climate change;
Cost effectiveness of mitigation actions, including costs of fighting fires and costs of limiting their extent;
Impact of forest “preservation” in relation to buildup of fuels;
Policy and practices related to fuel reduction through prescribed burns and thinning;
Effects of forest evolution/changes on fire hazard (e.g., Bar Harbor, Maine forest change prior to 1947 Fire);
Fire as an ecological agent of change;
Utility of field experiments and modeling, (e.g. the Canadian crown-fire research project);
Research on combustible factors in building technology,
Need for better remote sensing and geographic information systems (GIS) to model wildland fire risk factors (e.g., fuel, slope, climate, etc.);
Development practices (density, slope, construction materials/practices, water, road access and egress) to reduce urban/wildland fire hazard;
Utility of regulations (zoning, subdivision/landscape/building codes) to achieve better development and building practices;
Education and incentives (remodeling guidelines, demos for builders, tax abatement, permit fee waivers on retrofits);
Potential role of the private insurance industry in establishing voluntary or compulsory standards for fire risk reduction in urban/wildland fringe;
Development of training modules for fire personnel in techniques of risk assessment and fire suppression for urban/wildland fire, using computer graphics and simulation to enhance learning for operations in this dangerous environment;
Design and development of an interdisciplinary knowledge base regarding the vulnerability of communities exposed to risk of wildland fire; and
Development of computer-based models that simulate rapidly escalating urban/wildland fires and include the range of conditions that contribute to fire, as well as the range of conditions that inhibit it.