By Allison G. S. Knox
Contributor, EDM Digest
The wildfires in California have been tremendously serious this year as numerous evacuations have taken place and lives and property have tragically been lost. Firefighters are continuing to fight the fires as the winds appear to strengthen. The emergency management efforts have been truly incredible, especially as emergency managers and other public safety officials have been working diligently to control and manage the fires.
According to Time Magazine, the wildfires are caused by a combination of dry vegetation and the Santa Ana Winds. In the past few decades, the frequency of wildfires has increased, (some point to Global Warming as the culprit), and certainly the link, (because of numerous other contributing factors), hasn't increased to follow it. Similar to other government programs, funding has been tight, and certainly hasn't been what we would actually need to stop the wildfires in their tracks.
Citizen Education on Wildfires
Individuals have been educated well on fire prevention methods, but like many other things, some citizens may not have been able to keep up with appropriate fire prevention methods just because life gets in the way - or, they may be older and it may be difficult for them to keep their yards in check in an effort to prevent fires further. The reality of this is just a symptom of human nature. It can be difficult for everyone to do what needs to happen with fire prevention.
Utilizing the Involvement of Non-Profit Organizations
In the last few years, Community Emergency Response Teams (CERT) teams have developed across the country with increasing popularity. The teams have helped tremendously with the management of emergencies. Additionally, organizations like Team Rubicon have also come together to help citizens in their respective areas working to help install fire detectors to residents who may be unable to install them for themselves.
Emergency managers could use these organizations and similar teams to help their communities stay ahead of fire prevention methods. link makes several recommendations to appropriately prevent fires. Fire prevention methods could essentially be implemented into communities in a stronger fashion through utilizing the teams that are already supporting their respective communities. These groups could go out to people in the community and help to do the yard work and other fire prevention methods to help prevent fires before they start. In doing so, this could fall along the lines of community resiliency efforts - a new concept that is continues to develop in the emergency management literature.
Ultimately, it is important to prevent these wildfires from even occurring - but the frequency of them and tightened budgets is making fire prevention difficult at best. Using CERT teams and other volunteer/non-profit organizations in the community can strengthen prevention efforts.