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Offering you Fire Adaptation Ideas Outside the Box

Public Health

While public health has been a major topic of conversation across the globe this year, its importance within the wildfire sphere is often overlooked. Yet, public health is as critical to wildfire adaptation as home hardening or fuel reduction. You might even say that public health is as critical to wildfire adaptation as the air we breathe. 

Smoke and its impacts continue to reverberate across landscapes. As smoke is a product of combustion, it is inherent to fire. Smoke’s effects are felt by communities adjacent to fire, regardless of whether those fires are beneficial to the landscape or not. Those with pre-existing conditions, or who are unhoused, can be particularly vulnerable to smoke impacts. This year, FAC Net worked to highlight the importance of smoke preparedness as part of fire adaptation through the development of a learning group dedicated to smoke.

Practitioners from across the country met monthly to discuss programs, share resources, ask questions and dive into how they can better prepare themselves and their communities for the inevitability of wildfire smoke. Additionally, two webinars, hosted jointly with the Western Region of the Wildland Fire Leadership Council, provided examples of programs and mitigation measures around the country. 

However important smoke is to fire adaptation, it isn’t the only element of public health that matters to communities seeking to better live with wildland fire. Mental health for our communities impacted by smoke and recovery processes, as well as the day-to-day impact on practitioners are very real. 

Public health challenges us within the wildfire sphere. We must look beyond the reaction many have that “public health isn’t in my job description” and move into a space where we are instead asking ourselves questions like “who do I need to invite to this discussion to make sure that we are considering community mental and physical well-being in living with wildfire?”

Forward together, 
The FAC Net Staff 

Want to share a story or resource with FAC Net? Have feedback on this newsletter or our weekly blog? We’d love to hear from you.

The Wildland Fire Lessons Learned Center's mission is to "promote learning in the wildland fire service by providing useful and relevant products and services that help reveal the complexity and risk in the wildland fire environment." One of the ways this mission is carried out is through the Wildfire Lessons Podcast where a variety of topics are tackled - like this episode entitled "The Importance of Identity," LISTEN HERE. Additionally, the topic of Identity was covered in the Center's quarterly publication Two More Chains READ HERE. Read more about the work of the Wildland Fire Lessons Learned Center HERE.

Eytan Krasilovsky is the Deputy Director for the Forest Stewards Guild based in northern New Mexico. Eytan supports programs and collaborative efforts at the intersection of fire-adapted ecosystems and communities. Eytan presented the Forest Stewards Guild's HEPA Filter Loan Program on the recent FAC Net Community Solutions for Clean Air Webinar

FAC Net also featured a Day in the Life of Eytan, READ HERE.
"As part of an increasing and ongoing response, the City of Ashland, a member of our Smokewise Ashland community collaborative, received an $85,000 grant this past year from the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) to give away 500 HEPA air purifiers to help better prepare Ashland’s most smoke-vulnerable residents...” 

Katie Gibble's story of the City of Ashland's Air Purifier Pilot Program shares the process the City and its partners went through to vet applicants and safely distribute air purifiers to its most smoke vulnerable citizens. 
"An article by David Eisenman, Sarah McCaffrey, Ian Donatello and Grant Marshall investigates how Arizona’s 2011 Wallow Fire affected the psychological health of part-time and permanent residents of five communities. Investigators were interested in the contribution of 'solastalgia,' the loss of solace from the landscape, to residents’ psychological distress one year after the wildfire."
The recent pandemic has made everything about our lives different, including how we prepare for and respond to wildfire. This FAC Net blog shared highlights from a recently published research report Wildfire Preparedness and Evacuation Planning in a Pandemic: Case Studies from California and Colorado. The authors share lessons learned from the 2020 wildfire season during the pandemic and suggest actions and preparations for next season.

Explore the Interactive Report

Watch the Webinars

Quote by Chris Barth from Annie Schmidt's blog "It's Not Just You: Burnout and Stress in the Practitioner Community."
Read More Here.

Do you have a resilience or fire adaptation story to share?

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