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National Wildfire Commission releases wildfire report in call for change

National Wildfire Commission releases wildfire report in call for change
National Wildfire Commission releases wildfire report in call for change 03:35

A national commission called together to look at wildfire in the United States has completed a 340-page report with 148 recommendations for Congress including vast changes in mitigating fire risk, fighting fires, and reacting after their destruction. 

"There was not one person out of the 50-member commission that really thought that the status quo was adequate. We all recognize that we must do things differently," said Dan Gibbs, executive director of the Colorado Department of Natural Resources and one of the members of the commission. 

The commission members endorsed the 148 recommendations unanimously.

In the report, the commission members called for an approach.

"That is proactive in nature, better matched to the immense scale and scope of the crisis, and more reflective of the multi-scalar, interrelated nature of the overall system. Importantly, just as there is no single cause of this crisis, there is no single solution."

"We must plan better. We must work with local communities so that we can give tools and resources to local communities become more resilient," said Gibbs. "We need to do a better job coordinating while fires are going on. And then and then, after fires, too."

Among the recommendations, large increases in mitigation work and less delineation of the differences between private and public property. 

"In my opinion, and many of the commissioners would agree that we need to look at a new formula for what success looks like. Is it, how many homes are saved? How many neighborhoods are now built in a fire-wise way? How many communities are now more fire resilient?" 

Gibbs noted there is support for more stringent fire-resistant building requirements as well as better coordination between local, state and federal governments. 

"Congress should increase budgets for the relevant departments and entities that work to mitigate, manage, and recover from wildfire," the report says.

The commission believes firefighters not only need more appropriate compensation, but also the skills of wildfire fighting need to be imparted to more firefighters. 

"And have structure firefighters be trained more with wildland fire and figure out housing for firefighters and figuring out pay. You know this is all part of the equation of trying to go from the status quo to go to moving in a direction that's meaningful for the whole United States," said Gibbs.

The report was commissioned in the Inflation Reduction Act and has been in the making for a year. Already, commission members have been briefing members of Congress, including members of the Colorado delegation. 

Congress will have to approve many of the suggested actions.

The report states: 

"There is a need for a paradigm shift toward systems and structures that are more comprehensive and better address the interrelationships between communities and landscapes and between pre-fire mitigation, response, and post-fire recovery efforts. This includes greater integration between wildfire-related programs, procedures, policies, and workforces and incorporation of issues and sectors that have traditionally been set apart from the wildland fire discourse or handled disparately."

Read the commission's full report here

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