J8.2 Communicating fire weather information and assessing societal response

Wednesday, 26 January 2011: 1:45 PM
607 (Washington State Convention Center)
Peter Roohr, NOAA/NWS, Silver Spring, MD; and H. Hockenberry, J. Sprague, and S. Schranz

The vision of fire weather services is the provision of high-resolution fire weather information and services, in close collaboration with agency partners, focused on providing impact-oriented, integrated improvements of fire danger and behavior predictions that save lives and reduce impact to property. Several recent recommendations, examples and significant events have warranted a closer look at society's response to fire forecasts, warnings and critical wildland urban interface (WUI) fires. Warning criteria, forecast procedures and dissemination methods have existed for decades and have served the country well. However, lives continue to be lost despite accurate and timely forecasts. Several U.S. examples (e.g., Esperanza Fire in CA in 2006) and the recent Australian Black Saturday fires illustrate that correct, decisive public and fire control action is necessary as a post-product of good fire weather information. There must be an exploration and assessment of the public's awareness, or lack thereof, concerning fire weather services and currently available fire weather information. Sound fire weather information delivery and use must be coupled with assessment of values at risk in terms of property, resources and historical significance.
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