tv Johns Hopkins Discussion on Wildfires and Public Health Concerns CSPAN April 21, 2019 3:06am-4:10am EDT
still the they felt wasen in the air prohibitive, so they felt comfortable using the n-word -- using the letter m-word as a substitute. that's why you get the birther movement, the tea party, and they stoke islamophobia and succeed in the midterm 2010 elections. the most expensive single deployment of resources in islam a phobic funding is actually obama.election of >> a discussion on islamophobia in the united states hosted by the council on american islamic relations, today at 6:45 p.m. eastern on c-span. >> the johns hopkins school of public health along with its -- injury end research and public policy hosted this discussion on the
wildfire season and public health concern. speakers include the former head of california's state firefighters service. this is just over an hour. >> so it is my honor now to introduce tonya. she was named the superintendent of the u.s. fire ministries and national fire academy in may 2017. as superintendent, ms. hoover provides leadership for the national fire academy, and they focus on enhancing the ability of fire and emergency services and allied professionals to deal more effectively with fire and a host of other emergencies. she is an accomplished executive with more than 20 years of management experience in local and state government. she has successfully worked at high levels of government in developing and implementing all types of fire protections, fire protection, fire training, and community risk reduction programs, so we look forward to hearing from you and the panel today, and we are very appreciative that you are here, so thank you.
[applause] >> good afternoon, everyone. i do not know who writes that stuff. [laughs] first, i just want to congratulate jim. i know how much he loves complements. as a long-standing member of the jim crawford fan club who has paid her dues recently -- funding counts, jim -- congratulations on behalf of the u.s. fire administration and the fire academy. funding counts, jim -- it is quite an honor to be among you all. i feel like i am at old home week, even though we are not old. this is quite an honor to be with a group of international fire-prevention community risk-reduction members, and it is a little overwhelming,
courtney, but thank you for everything you do. every single day. it is quite an honor and privilege to introduce our panel members for today. all of them, i have worked with. some of them, i have worked with more than others and have controlled my life. first, i would like to interest you -- introduce you to this chief. he was a reserve firefighter in contra costa county, california. he joined cal fire in 1987 as a seasonal firefighter and ultimately worked his way through the ranks to director of cal fire, a position he held from 2010 until his retirement in december of 2018. the chief has a bachelors of science degree and forest research management from humboldt state university and is a registered professional forrester in california.
under his leadership, cal fire and the state of california ballot historic wildfires in an unprecedented epidemic while at the same time increased the pace and scale of forest management and fire prevention. yes, he did. chief pimlott participates, -- participated in numerous committees of the state and national level, testified before congress on multiple occasions in support of legislation related to forest management and fire protection, including federal funding funding fixes. also joining us today, michael -- i am going to mess it up. hi, michael. [laughter] >> he's an associate professor of fire protection engineering at the university of maryland in college park, maryland. he is a member of the board of directors for the international association of wildland fire and serves as a research advisory board of the national fire protection association --
agency, association fire protection research foundation. he studies now fire spread while in interurban face. the physical dynamics of wildfires come wildland fire -- dynamics of wildfires wildland fire spread, the , process by which structures ignite from embers and emissions at associate health effects from wildfire smoke. welcome. our third panel member, michele steinberg, is the wildfire division director at the national fire protection association. leading a team dedicated to wildfire safety outreach, in fda's wildfire related projects cover a broad spectrum of safety education, advocacy, and professional training at international outreach, including firewise usa. recognition program in the wildfire community preparedness day campaign. she serves as the board of directors of the international association of and what's been
the recently retired director and chief of cal fire. i want to reiterate that it is for me a sincere honor to be here at johns hopkins today, to be with the raskin family, recognizing jim crawford for his amazing work for the fire service and the tireless efforts that go on every day. what this university is doing in this program and what is going on across the country and the space is an area that we continue to need to ramp up our pace and scale in response to what we have been seeing in the last several years. today, i want to spend a few minutes providing the california perspective on what has been happening over the last several years in the wildland fire and urban interface and talk about the -- with the rest of the panel about what's been
happening. this is a fire problem that is throughout the country. it is throughout the united states and while we may see it , front and center every day in california, it is a problem that is national. so really where things started and what we are seeing is a trend towards longer fire seasons. it's not that we have not had disastrous fire season in the west at in california in previous decades, but what we are seeing are fire seasons that really is a lasting all year. we are expensing conditions where having large wildland fires in january in northern california. some of the wettest places in the state historically. conditions are absolutely changing and going along with this, it has to do with change in vegetative characteristics. i would use the word climate change today because i can undo -- and i know that that is something that has been polarizing to many across the country, depending on perspective. i can tell you at the end of the , day, i can tell you firefighters are facing a a changing climatic conditions had an everyday.
they experience it. we can call it whatever we want to, but things are changing out there and firefighters are seeing it head on. we are seeing more flammable vegetation move further north in latitude and moving up in elevation. things we would historically see in the southern california santa ana wind driven fire, the chaparral, that's happening out in the southern and central sierra. as tonya talked about, millions of dead trees in southern and central sierra. all of this is creating a fuel bed that's ripe for fire. put on top of that 40 million people living in california, over 750,000 homes just in the urban interface state responsibility area, that wildland area in california, all of that is ripe for creating the challenges we are seeing. and then as weather patterns change, we are seeing more frequent and intense drought.
for california, we experienced some 2012-2017 the worst drought in the state's history. literally had a whole community dry up and go away because it could not sustain itself for no water. the governor signed a declaration of emergency in 2014. a variety of cascading effects from that drought but certainly parched conditions and a right fuel bed -- ripe fuel bed for that wildland fire was a significant impact. what we are seeing more extreme weather events. the car fire in writing mid-summer 2018 last year very much eclipsed by the fires that occurred later put it into the way the car fire experienced a a fire tornado half-mile wide swath of the ef-3 tornado, winds of 143 miles per hour fueled just off a firestorm to the community not only moving firebrands, but literally ripping up vegetation and homes, and taking the life of a
firefighter, several firefighters, and civilians. we are seeing erratic behavior, intense winds. the north bay fires in 2017 around santa rosa and napa, 80-mile an hour winds that were very focused and aimed these fires like a blowtorch at communities. extended-duration red flag events, and red flag conditions, red flag warnings, are posted by the national weather service in and the criteria include high winds, low humidity's which , -- humidities, which leads to rapidfire growth and spread. we've had this historically around the country but we are seeing now longer duration events. in the thomas fire that burned in 2017 in december, same time a choice or after the north bay fires, 13 day red flag event. longest recorded that we are aware of, continuous red flag event. you are seeing 3% and 4% humidities over the entire
southern california los angeles basin and intense winds servicing in many of the drainages from malibu south into san diego county. that creates potential and did create or fuel the fire storms. and then just result in rapid fires, 13 day red flag event. rate of fire growth and spread, and fires are burning and extreme rates, they are spotting miles ahead of themselves, creating new fires ahead of the main fire, all of which is converging and just creating a rapid and extreme growth of fires and obviously communities out in front. so i want to show you just a quick video clip that we worked with 60 minutes. what happened on the campfire, the fire that burned and destroyed paradise and the surrounding communities last fall. >> using this new tool, ken pimlott, chief of the california department of forestry and fire protection, showed us how fast the camp fire spread. computerized projections on this
3-d map showed the course of the fire. >> where did the fire start? the fire started in the community of paula at 6:30 in the morning on november 8, quickly accelerated by 40-mile an hour winds coming from the north. >> look at this. >> the fire was growing at a rate of one football field a second. so an acre a second. >> one football field a second. >> right. within two hours, the fire is impacting the community of paradise. it took 12 hours to essentially consume all of that, record pace. >> how many acres in total? >> 153,300 acres. >> what's going on? everybody says that this is the new normal. >> we are now every year seeing fires like this that are more and more extreme. the vegetation is critically parched. the mean temperature in the state is going up and so these are all factors that are just really a combination of things that are driving very extreme
events. >> so the challenge is to respond to these type of fires . we focused on the camp fire, but when these fires are burning , there are often multiple fires going on around the state, running around the western united states at the same time. so again managing multiple fires, moving resources come all -- resources all that create , complexity beyond just the actual fire itself. large number of structures threatened or burning, obviously in the case of the camp fire, you know, immediately when went into an evacuation structure defense mode, and when you multiple fires burning where lives are threatened, properties being impacted, all that creates a complexity and a drawdown on resources. and a stress on the system. california, with 40 million people, many fire departments, lots of resources around the state. but at the end of the day, in the last two years, and 2017-2018, california has relied
heavily on outside resources from around the country and outside the country to australia and to others. i believe utilized 17 different states in both 2017 and 2018. even with the plethora of resources available in california, these incidents, this complexity is rapidly outpacing the ability to staff and mitigate these events with resources in-house. we talk a lot about their craft. -- aircraft.
aircraft gets a lot of media attention. aircraft are very effective in what they do. and in california, we use aircraft, both helicopters and fixed wing aircraft initial attack with ground resources to keep fire small. aircraft are very crucial. when fires escape initial attack we have an extended attack for , major fire. aircraft with a key role the operational aspects of putting the fire out in key areas . protecting communities, pretreating ridge tops, all these things that help firefighters on the ground gain ground and be effective. but a fire like the camp fire, the car fire, the north bay fires in 2017, when you look at winds from 40-50 or more miles an hour, visibility zero, aircraft cannot operate, can't be effective. they are not the panacea to make these fires go away or be mitigated. we also have the lack of situational awareness. without the ability to resources -- to have resources in the air because of visibility, wind, rain, etc. very challenging in , these kinds of fires to understand what's going on and is a very rapidly changing dynamic on the ground. and again, we talked about national and international response. extended commitment of resources . this is what really plays into my work here at the university and beyond is so important. the impact of both firefighters and public safety.
it's not just the direct exposure to the fire and the hazards on the fire ground. it's also the long-term impacts , because now, we have a year-round condition. we are exposing firefighters to months of firefighting all year. these of both psychological, fiscal impacts. it is the health impacts from smoke that not only impact the firefighters on the ground but communities hundreds and sometimes thousands of miles away by these long duration events. so significant challenges that result there. and ultimately, and unfortunately, the last four or five years has been a decade of broken -- really, we have seen a decade of broken records, particularly in the last four or five years. i can tell you in 2018 just in california, 1.8 million acres burned. 22,703 structures were destroyed. most of those on the fire paradise, the camp fire.
and hundreds of hotels, six firefighters, 94 civilians. and hundreds of hotels, six that was a record year for california and actually california had the record for the country in 2018, for these statistics. unfortunately, we saw the camp fire being the most destructive fire with almost 19,000 structures destroyed. the mendocino complex near clearlake was accommodation of -- a combination of two different fires but it turned out to be the largest fire in the state's history at over 459,000 acres. and then again, the camp fire being the deadliest fire with 85 fatalities. at cal fire, we keep statistics in three primary areas. the deadliest, the top 20 deadliest, the top 20 most destructive, and the top 20 largest. and the telling tale of why we know things are changing is that of the 20 largest and ten of the
10 20 most destructive fires have occurred in the last ten years. and, quite frankly, most of those have occurred in the last five or six years. so bottom line going forward as i turned it over to the next panel members we could spend a , day talking about the response, the impacts, the challenges, and the organization behind all of this, but but ultimately, it's this entire package we're talking about today, not just the response, that we need to continue to engage in to mitigate these impacts, these urban interface communities around the country. so with that, thank you. [applause] >> hi. thank you, everyone. i am really honored to be here today with the raskin family, here at the school of public health. i'm just down the road at the university of maryland in college park, department of fire protection engineering. and so, we focus on fires both in structures and wildland fires.
i want to give you a little of our perspective or my perspective, particularly in how these fires affect our communities in terms of how i've are they actually burning down those homes? then i'll give my perspective on where i see some work in public health and talk about some of the recent collaborations within we have had which hopefully will be very interesting to you all here. wildfire problem that chief , pimlott was mentioning, there's a lot of factors that go into that. but really, we are seeing not more fires but more extreme fires. and so i teach a class and wildland fire. and i like to tell students that there are three main factors you can summarize. the first is we haven't had a lot of fires in the landscape . fire exclusion. people are moving into communities. it is more difficult to do prescribed burning and we've got really good at putting out small fires. this adds a lot of fuel to the landscape. the second is there is a lot more people living there. because of the wildland urban interface. multiple structures, power lines, other ignition sources,
and those people are in places that used to burn, and now , when those fires move through, those homes and those people are threatened. that didn't used to happen. and finally, we can't neglect climate change. this is become a year-round problem in california and a year-round problem all over the united states, and we are seeing more incidences of extreme fire danger whether. with that extreme fire danger whether comes extreme fires. -- weather comes extreme fires. we can see it in the data. this blue line shows the number of fires. it's pretty steady. this is in the united states. however, the acres burned has dramatically gone up. and to be honest, the acres burned going up is about 3% or less of the fires. it's a couple very, very large fires every year driving that. i don't have to mention that the cost of suppressing those fires is incredible. we are putting a lot of money into suppressing those fires and , nowadays unfortunately, to rebuilding those communities as well. the one thing we can track and we don't have good data on , public health, but we do track
houses burning. in california really has been a leader in tracking the houses burning and surveying the damage. and, unfortunately, in some ways , it has paid off recently. you can see and the last two years the dramatic rise in the number of structures that have are burned. whole communities completely destroyed, including some of those pictured that were not even necessary thought to be in high fire danger areas. and i am going to talk a little bit about why we think that is. i can't neglect the fact that we our in maryland. why does this even matter on the east coast? if you look at this map, this is only updated to 2011. fires and wildland-urban interface happen all over the country. there was a recent fire in the new jersey pine barren. there was on the eastern shore one here in maryland, and chimney tops fire, gatlinburg tennessee in 2016. who thought there would be a large wildfire in tennessee? yet people locally in the area
who worked in the field knew that there was a high fire danger there. unfortunately, it wasn't prepared for. there was a lot of elements that went into it but the incidence of extreme weather is changing and we are seeing this in areas at least more often than we ever thought we would before that resulted in 14 fatalities and devastating losses. so we look at this. this is basically a summary from a man retired from the four service and how we think about the disastrous sequence of wildfires. it starts with high fire danger conditions. we see that the winds are very strong. there's been a long drought, very dry fuels. and then, you get extreme fire behavior. but it's not the fact you have extreme fire behavior. it's that it gets to residential fires. it ignites fires within our communities. and i'll talk about how that happens. it is primarily embers. but what really makes the difference is not just those residential fires are starting but that the fire protection resources come and become
totally overwhelmed. just imagine this. you have a fighter in your house. even if you have home fire sprinklers, and it is designed so the fire department will come and respond, and they will in a relatively quick time, and they will, and they will put it out. multiply that times 1000, 2000. you don't have 2000 fire engines right there, and so this is a challenging problem and this is sort of what drives this fire disaster. i will come back to this how we think we can help it. the wui fire challenge is understanding why do some homes ignite why don't others, and how , can we break this chain of destruction? why did the pump ignite? it doesn't. this is a question that researchers have thought about. i want to talk about three ways the fire can ignite a home. the first is what we always thought of, radiation. you have big flames. they flare up and they're right next to your home.
but you get adequate defensible space and you clear around your home, it won't ignite. it has to be pretty close to the house to cause that ignition. the separation distance between the fire and the home is really, really important. what we usually see radiation happen is home to home spread if . if your homes are too close and they don't have fireproof materials, the spread can happen. we also see direct flame contact. so one of the recent items that were studied by nist were fences . wooden fences right up to the house and the flames can literally creep along. if you don't clear all the fuels around, people have already evacuated, and these fires can creep in. and the last element, embers or firebrands, and this is key. this is responsible for at least half, maybe the majority of homes that are lost in his wildfires. in the tubbs fire in northern california, these flew over an
eight lane freeway, over industrial areas, over a kmart that burned and landed in a community and then destroyed a committee, the whole community of homes. and so these small burning , embers will fly into a community, and they don't just land and immediately start a fire. in fact, some of fires can start up to nine hours after the fire is gone. so this is a real challenge because it's hard once the community has evacuated for the fire service to be there and deciding whether it safe to go in and whether you can be there. you can see some of these results. it's the embers, the flying firebrands. we have to redesign our communities so we protected from them. you could see a clip on the screen. this is actually an interface fire in australia, and australia has some really extreme embers. they come off the bark of eucalyptus. but this just gives you a sense, almost a rainstorm or a blizzard or shower of embers. we're not looking at everyone eucalyptus. but we need to prevent our own , -- our homes from igniting from these.
when we think about it, going back to the sequence, how do we break the sequence, that cycle? there's a lot of different ways to do it but i think the biggest , is in prevention, codes and standards, community programs, coordinating our response to do adequate suppression, and designing the communities and the homes so they don't ignite. if we do design right, if we plan our suppression, plan evacuation, do fire modeling to know where the fire might go and how quickly it might there, we can try to reduce the risk in the communities. we can never make it zero but if you can stop 90% of the ignition, the fire service is safer and have an excellent chance of stopping the small amount of fires that can happen. but it is not just about the communities burning. it is everyone around it. this is a satellite image of the thomas fire. and you can just see that level of smoke. at this most of it is pushing point, offshore but a lot of that came back later and settled into the valleys and health was really affected in the area.
this is my perspective on some of the health impacts that i think researchers here could really tap into, and there's a lot of opportunity here where we can start making a difference. one is obviously the smoke. there's long term exposure to surrounding populations and is definitely something that has started to be studied, and i think there's a lot more work i that can be done on all angles. there's also a very important angle. firefighters and first responders. when you go into a burning building as a structural firefighter, you are wearing an scba. when you are a wildland firefighter, you don't have a mask. think about it. they are sometimes 20 something hours. you're not going to carry that much oxygen. what do you wear? you are heavily exerting yourself. this is a different problem and we have to think about it. in fact, we started collaborating with researchers at northeastern university . what happens when you have a real short-term exposure to a
a lot of this wildland fire smoke? how does it affect long-term health effects? that is something that's been missing. we've seen in structural fires and now we're starting to see it for wildland fires. toxic pollutants, and i'm not talking about what happen in the air but think about what's left after the fire goes. they are going to be cleaning up paradise, california, for years . everything that was in there, toxic and otherwise, it's now all over the place. topsoil needs to be cleared. it is a lot of open questions . very important. and finally there's a mental and community health problem. communities are recovering. first responders are recovering. these are not exclusive but there's a lot of elements here that are really important. there's something else i noticed in some of these fires that really struck me. evacuations. let me show you a picture.
from santa rosa, california. this was kaiser permanente hospital in santa rosa, california. they were evacuating patients as the fire came. running through the smoke, this happened at nursing homes. there was a hospital that burned down in the most recent fire and it's not just insurance companies that are wondering but it's healthcare workers, recovery afterwards. there so many questions in this area and i think the people that do the suppression planning, design, resilience and health all need to collaborate on this because it's the most vulnerable population that are being the most severely affected. we want to prevent this. this is that community i mentioned, copy part in santa rosa, california, in 20 something that completely burned down after embers jumped over a freeway and a lot of other areas to get here. what if we could have prevented that? have public health improve? i think prevention is the key. we need to plan, innovate and engineer new materials and things and we need to think about how to equip our first
responders so that they can respond to dispense as safely and as effectively as possible. thank you. [applause] >> good afternoon, everyone. it's a privilege to be with you today. my name is michele steinberg five work for the sda, a national fire protection association. following on the presentations by ken and my club want to about human dimension of this issue and how we prepare homes and communities from wildfire. so if you're not a with us there's a lot of folks and fell in place you can wear a global nonprofit devoted to eliminating death, injury and property and economic loss due to fire, electrical or related hazards and wildfires and part of our mission since about 1986 play a part. i have the update is like. i don't know how i snagged this
but it is a national problem. we've emphasize that this can happen anywhere in the country but it is local solutions. before i get into the people part of this in terms of what we can teach people who are already living in harm's way, i do want to give a little shock to the policy context of what's missing. i spent the last week in san francisco at the national planning conference. i am a planner by training and education, and so my fellow municipal, county, city, state, federal planners were very much hanging on our words about wildfire and hazards and what can be done at the local level. that's where it needs to happen. the decisions that are made about land use, about construction citing design are all important decisions that will affect the risk for years and years and years down the road. state and local building codes and ordinances are critical. nfpa promulgates codes and standards. the international code council
as well. these are very important and in large part they are missing. not in california with one of the most stringent building codes wildfire protection in the planet, but still not required everywhere and we are finding with the changes that we are seeing that we might want to rethink that. we need incentives and disincentive to limit construction in the most high-risk areas. i think, michael, i don't know if you've visited kahlenberg. i've into other areas where you just look about the the construction looks like and the topography and you think why would you ever build right there? that particular spot, it's so dangerous point we also suffer with inadequate mapping and modeling of the hazards. it's hard for authorities to know and understand where and under what conditions they need to apply these planning and building constraints.
life goes on without recognition that you're building into hazardous areas. what i would like to focus on for the next few minutes is the 98% problem. what can we do to mitigate the 98% of homes that are already on the landscape? we only build about 2% new housing across the country every year, and again what jeffcoat want to codes and standards in place that for new construction that makes sense that we have lots of people facing the risk and may be don't even know they have a problem. this concept, the home ignition zone, michael alluded to. this was coined by jacqueline, research scientist recently retired from usda forest service. the idea is that people can take control of the wildfire risk by making their homes and surroundings ignition resistant. i was privileged to be at a presentation where dr. cohen was explained his site and some are in the back of the room said jack, this isn't rocket science. he said no, it's much harder than that. it's social science. it's about people. [laughter] i am going to talk about the social science and the fire science informs the social
science. essentially fire doesn't care if the fuel it is eating up is a house or a woodpile for a car or a tree. if you care about your house and your car and your tree, you need to work on this, and neighbors really have to work together. you saw the urban conflagration which was built in coffey park. we are sitting in a city that suffered a fire. the great baltimore fire, 1996 and most of the downtown was wiped away in the, on a windy day when the structures copy of the structures on fire. neighbors have to work together to make an ignition resistant community and prevent this. this is how do you convince people to do that. that's the trick. what can we do. we can't control the wind but we can control the fuel for the fire to some degree. for homeowners this means everything on the house, the roof, siding, walls, the decks and around the house within
about 100 feet. it's what the own. it's what they need to modify. they need science-based steps. anything to learn about effective simple safety measures. i'm showing you an image of one of the examples of the wildfire research fact sheet that nfpa has worked on. it partners with entrance industry. they have allowed with you some amazing testing of all the different elements, nist as well on his index and all kinds of things. people are hungry for this information to be translated to the and weight they can use. nfpa uses a lot of materials both in english and spanish to help people understand what you need to do to prepare the home from wildfire and reduce the risks in the home ignition zone. this all translates into essentially if you do everything right to your house, if you're one of those proactive people that reads all of our stuff and takes it seriously and to do all the work, you are still in trouble if your neighbors haven't done it if they're
anywhere close to you. this idea that we give a process of imitation at the community level and recall this program fire wise usa. international recognition program and it essentially helps people work together on reducing their common risks. so to boil it down, what it means is that people must understand their wildfire risk to life and property otherwise they are not going to do much of anything. they need to work together on an action plan and an annual activity. they need to document that activity investment each year and they need to receive recognition and encouragement. this all ties into four basic i guess findings or sets of research that we used over the years that we think are very effective in getting people to change behavior on a community level. so fire wise now is one of 1500 active sites around the united states pics some committees have been doing this for almost 20 years, and the are your local champion for proper district visit fire wise.org to get more information and detail on that.
what i told players last week is if you don't know that your fire wise site and airy, you need to go find his people. they are probably knocking on your door. they are very activated, activated, engaged public that you really need to go and connect with if you haven't already. tools and techniques for behavior change. these are the resources we have used to implement fire wise. the first is good public education. what behavior change techniques can we take from this? this information is from a great paper that was done about 20 years ago, public education for earthquake hazards, and so i found it to be very, very similar about when we talk about wildfire and even flood or other risk.
we want to move individuals from awareness to action. we want to raise questions in your mind, in other words, how bad could it be? will it affect me and what can i do? and when should i begin? what to provide simple answers and we need to make authorities available over time to continue to reinforce that message. the key fun picking out of this i find very empowering. when people understand their something they can do to reduce their vulnerability, they are more apt to act. we have found is over and over again with firewise. in terms of continuing that education and learning and providing information, this is just an example, and do worse we put up not long ago addressing the wildfire threat to homes. i apologize for the very long url. you are probably better off googling the title to find it. it's a free short course you can test your knowledge and is just a very good primer for the average citizen to take a look and understand the problem.
the other research that i think is very telling and very helpful is everett rogers diffusion of innovation theory. this is something when you look at how do communities adopt new behaviors? usually you have the wild and crazy innovators. you have one or two people who get gung ho about something. how does that spread of the community and what are the ways you can help it spread? you'll have your early adopters and then your early and late majority coming along later, and then finally you have 16% of people who will never do anything and the call that the laggards, which i love that.
our program includes signage and we the people say what's the big deal about a sign? the sign is a way to signal the commitment that people have made. it's a pledge. the daily risk reminder, people are super proud of becoming firewise. this is a helpful public signal that signals to the laggards perhaps that we we're moving into a new direction, and it helps people can we do an annual activity as as a requirement of firewise that every year it comes back at the people who might be skeptical and said okay, it's back again, maybe i should take a look. excellent resource, free on cbs m.com. this idea is that you promote hate your change like you would sell coca-cola. you find out what's keeping them from buying your product. you move those barriers, create commitment. establishing social norms, making the action convenient and providing incentives. i put the banner of the day coming up in a couple of weeks. it's the gateway to getting more action on the ground. it's a simple one-day commitment. and get people to get over the
idea that this is a big problem that they can't solve all at once. it gives them an easy first bite. finally, the book of positive, this is a little easier to read in book called switch. the idea is that you find what's going right, so cloning the right spots is a very good way to do that. if you look at who are doing things in the face of all the odds that they shouldn't be doing, in other words, what's going on that's good and how can we get more people to do it. it shows people, for example, when we go around and help people assess their risk, if we point out good thicks in the community that they can imitate.
it's more helpful than showing things that get them depressed, down and powerless. giving people action to do that, suddenly they become fire wives because they are acting on it every day. one of the things that we don't think to talk about, michael alluded to that very well, is the uncountable, we count suppression and we count structures burning and losses and are we counting the people whose lives are always affected, affected by the traumatic events and who -- who is doing the suffering. one thing that we found that young people, children often can't get back to their regular schools, friends move away during destructive events. we have done work, what do they want to see and what do they
know. they really need to know. many of prem are not prepared. families have not talked about evacuation plans, what should happen if mom and dad are not home. they are the next generation of decision-makers. they are the ones building the homes and living in the interface, we need tome power them with information. resilience starts with knowing what to do. so we created and done surveys with them and based on feedback we can get this information. there's lesson plans, tips for teaching about wildfire, we found pets are the big hook. that's very true of our adult population as well, the kids sort of like, you know, oh, well, grama, i have to take the dog.
this is really important to them. we laugh. we think about what people go back to a house for. why they wouldn't leave if they have to evacuate. this is why, it's very important. so we found working with the teens, became our wild fire preparedness day because so many adults and groups were interested in the idea of a single day of service, it wasn't just the kids, so i really urge you to take a look on website, i will say too just like it translates from children to adults and back and forth with these concepts, it also translates across the world. we've had great success working in south africa, chile, partners to bring empowerment to people in the community who do not have a voice and in many cases women and children. i would like to close with this kid from july. i love this one. they say, live fire wise, protect your happiness. so, again, it's not rocket science, it's the people and i
hope we have a good time talking about this in a few minutes, thank you very much. [applause] >> thank you very much. i couldn't get enough of them continuing to talk, dynamic panel and to keep the conversation going. i'd like to start with a question for each of them and then we can transfer that into an audience participation moment, how is that? so i'd like to start with chief, how do planning decisions affect the way that a firefighter combats wild fire? >> planning decisions directly impact how we make ground
decisions, how resources are deployed. if the community is combustable. firefighters deploy for structured offense. they are not out there fighting the fire because resources are committed to protecting structures, in a case like this, fire in paradise, the campfire wasn't structured offense. the first six hours or more of that incident was purely evacuating people and that meant putting people in fire engines, that meant civilian vehicles, squad cars, station wagons, putting people in. firefighters driving vehicles to a safe zone and continuing the process. the hospital, we talked about what happened at the hospital, literally putting patients in civilian vehicles. in the meantime the fire is growing, no suppression action going on, because they are directed toward protecting people.
at the end of the day if structures, if the community can't sustain or can't be resistant to these kinds of fires, requires significant commitment, if not 100% commitment just to deal with that and not mitigate with the emergency itself. >> thank you. so michael, how many more communities like paradise, california are awaiting for the right conditions for another disaster? >> i think -- i think one of the things is that we don't actually know quite how many communities and one of the questions we really want to ask is which communities and where have the highest risk conditions that we could make a significant difference for the lowest cost of money, so it takes a lot to actually implement this sort of risk reduction, but in some ways, there are very key things, whether it comes to changing elements of the structure, changing the response plan, changing what the community education has done so that people are prepared and adding more fire services in some cases or just a way in which they deploy.
i think we are missing some of the tools we need to make that connection but we know that there are highlighted areas, in fact, recently during the time we were preparing for this, governor newsom marked 20 projects, communities that they i think we are missing some of knew they had risks. it's a lot more and weighing changes in the communities, response versus surrounding vegetation, we are missing some of those tools that could be really helpful. >> dove tailing to that, michelle, how does engaged public reduce potential impacts of wild fire? >> well, i think that, you know, falling on my presentation, what i've observed is that when we start working with communities that are interested in reducing wild fire risk, it's remarkable how many talented people are out there living on the community. these aren't necessarily prior professionals, experts, rocket scientists, they are ordinary folks but quite extraordinary.
i've met retired business people who say we will attack this with business plan. it's amazing, many talent. a lot of energy, a lot of interest, people -- and i think a lot of women in retirement who are just looking to give back to the community. if we don't take that resource and exploit that, frankly, i think we are really missing something. having the paradigm that we, whatever it would be local officials, fire officials have all the answers, setting yourself up for paradigm of victims that don't need to be victims, so i think that we really need to engage our public because you'll be really surprised at the talent that you find. >> thank you. so now we would like to open it up to the audience. >> oh, sorry. are we going to see more of the situation like santa rosa, in your opinion, and is there any attention being paid to those kinds of neighborhoods where defensible space is not an
option, am i making sense? >> yeah, i can start off and we are absolutely going to see more santa rosas, we will see more paradise. the problem isn't just going to be magically fixed tonight by having the conversation and michael talked about it, california has identified many communities that are at high risk looking at the threat from the conditions that it exist there, but the high-risk population, the elderly, all of that and those analysis are occurring certainly across the state in california. we have just a significant amount of work to do to get this done and we have to ramp up the pace and scale by which we are doing all of this at space to get ahead of this and in the meantime the conditions continue to be what they are, if not grow more extreme and even though in california we've had a traditionally more normal winter with significant snow pack and
precipitation, we will be right back to conditions later this spring and summer because that really hasn't changed. i want to reiterate what michael and michelle said, this isn't a one-size, fits-all solution, we have problem with built environment, with access, all of that, at the same time our communities are in forested environments, we have to combine treating the landscape both external for the communities as well as externals, we have to work on the response, absolutely, will continue to occur. we have to look at this entire problem as a complete patient and treat every part of it. >> i'm sorry, when the fire chief start talking about a whole community and impact, i get goose bumps. [laughter] question, yes, sir.
>> a question for chief pimlott, you mentioned use of aviation sources and some challenge that is you faced last year in being able to use aircraft, could you talk a little bit about some of the decision-making process because in wind you put an aircraft up in the air and when you don't, secondly, how do you take those kinds of principals and apply them, similarities to larger picture? >> absolutely, so obviously aviation assets, fire fighting assets on front page, first thing on tv folks see that, they are high-profile, they are also very high risk because the mission that they perform. aviation isn't necessarily effective in high-intensity 80- mile an hour but at the same time aviation assets, tankers
that drop retardant as well as helicopters and day-to-day fire fighting, promote areas, provide quick retardant or water, they are widely are successful in these fires we fight every day. it's how they are used that's important and we make very conscious decisions every day, the risk versus gain and when are they effective and when are they not. we have to go through those analysis all of the time. at the end of the day there are people flying those aircraft and there are people on the ground that are directly impact by aircrafts do. there's opportunity and appropriate times to use them and appropriate times they are not effective and they stand down. what's important that's evaluated every day and actually throughout the day. aircraft are very scarce resource, there aren't enough fighting aircraft in the country to meet the needs every day. they are coordinate today state, local and federal level throughout the day, every day during fire season so we can get aircraft over the most appropriate, initial fires and they have appropriate use in
larger fires in a strategic tactical situation to treat ridden lines and help firefighters on the ground where they can be effective. but at the end of the days the fires burning under 80 miles an hour, visibility are zero, we won't be able to operate, we know that, we have to have everyone understand that there's an opportunity and not an opportunity in some cases for aircraft to be the right tool. >> thank you. another question? >> thank you, my question is for michelle and not having experience with wildland fires but a lot of experience in trying to motivate behavior change among people in fire, other causes, i'm wondering about any work that you may have
done about certain cultural aspects and thinking about how we communicate and get the messages, every time i see the word mitigation, for example, i worry about people who read at lower levels and just those challenges that we face on the structure fire from other causes, are you encountering them as well? >> thanks. we actually went out and did a focus group a couple years in texas and colorado. say what it is, maybe doesn't fit, you know, on your brochure, you need to say what it is, clearly to us we don't like the word mitigation, sounds like the word medication or litigation, we don't like that. tell us what it means, trying to go to more and more pictures and vises videos, when you tell somebody, you start talking about roofs, you need to show them what you're talking about and you need to show them what 0
to 5-foot zone, it's very small area with a lot of impact and the immediate zone around the home is where we are trying to focus. if people can clean that up during spring cleaning, preparedness day, not only is it easy, it has the most impact, has the most protective thing that you can possibly do around the home in short period of time. someone else in the back there. >> very interesting topic. i'm cure -- curious, has anybody looked at the difference in respiratory illness, cardiac ep episodes with firefighters environment versus those unprotected in the wetland environment?
>> yeah, i think the research is ongoing. part of that is due to wildlife service. a lot of people that are involved. it's hard tore track those and something very interesting in terms of the smoke and the exposure and the long term, we just have some problems and so that's why our current research approach has actually been to focus more back on basically -- what's different about the smoke, what's different about the exposures, we see that there's significant exposure for a short amount of time.
they try to mitigate the smoke exposure, they try not to put personnel but in large events it's inevitable going to happen even at base camp, command center, stuck in the smoke because that may be the safest area for other reasons. in terms of that, i think we are focused, we are doing things like mice models, other researchers that are trying say, where are the worst fire hazards that affect human health, what happens about the fire that does that and then can we make changes, does it involve operational changes. but i think there's a lot of ep epdemia, studies that can be done. on our end we are trying to tap into this. >> and just to really tag onto what michael said, it's a challenging area because you can control an exposure, time frame in structural environment, in
land very difficult to control when you're talking about broad geo graphic and we have done some studies, i think it was carbon monoxide exposure, a significant impact. it all comes down to obstruction, respiratory protection when they are committed in arduous environment. we have done some studies with carbon monoxide exposure, which is a significant impact, particularly in longer duration events, but it all comes down to this challenge of obstruction. it's a very longer-term arduous environment and trying to determine what to apply as far as respiratory protection when they are committed in arduous environment for long periods of time, but it is an absolute area we need to increase our efforts to look into and work on because the exposure to firefighters is going to increase and not just the wild land smoke, vegetation,
when they are working for a month to overhaul a community like paradise, they are being exposed to all of those toxins that are part of that. >> yes. >> i just want to top that also because your last point is very important, when we are working more and not just wildlife fire and the fire firefighters are in the environment. my question is something that i've been watching at and looking at and researching with the change of the climate is we see the fires west of the mississippi, we hear everything about the fires west of the mississippi, what's the risk on the east side? >> there is a lot of risk. i mean, there are certain areas, if you look in the south, in
florida, georgia, tennessee, there's actually a lot of areas and in some ways they're better at managing fire because some of the areas, for instance, they are used to prescribe fires in certain areas. what tends to happen in some of the climate scenarios that we have wild fires that are smaller, you may lose a couple of structures, a dozen, doesn't make the nightly news as much. on the east coast there are a lot of fires, it doesn't impact homes as often. it happens on occasion but i think that we are not seeing the, you know, 19,000 almost home loss, we are not seeing that level but it's still a public health hazard. it is still a safety hazard to a number of communities and it shouldn't be neglected. i think the bigger risk here is even though those areas are smaller, they are less aware of the problem where they are more aware in the west. that's where the real risk comes in, it's a matter of time, you
have another community without much evacuation, without much warning where that can escalate even though it may be less number of people exposed but can escalate to a severe disaster. >> well, our time is up for questions, i want to thank everyone for your questions and a big thank you to our panel members for taking time to meet with us all today and share your wisdom. thank you, again, and enjoy the rest of your day. [applause] >> on "newsmakers," the president and ceo of america's health insurance plans offers an insurance industry perspective on medicare for all, health plan costs, and deductibles and how the four double act could be improved. >> do you