by VDOF Wildfire Prevention Program Manager Fred Turck
June 30 through July 6 provides an opportunity for those who manage and battle wildland fires to remember, reflect and learn from the tragic incidents that have taken the lives of wildland firefighters. This week invites us to examine the past and lessen the likelihood that such tragedies will recur in the future. We will never have zero wildfires; however, we can strive for and have a goal of zero wildland firefighter fatalities. Any number greater than zero is unacceptable. The men and women who are on the frontlines, as well as those with responsibility for protecting our forests and wildlands as well as our homes, deserve nothing less.
The public can also engage with the Week of Remembrance by taking actions that reduce risks to wildland firefighter. Most importantly, people can do their part and not let a wildfire start. If we can keep our firefighters at home and our equipment in the garage we reduce the chances that something disastrous will occur. Eighty-five percent of all wildland fires are human-caused and like our friend Smokey Bear has told us for 75 years now, “Only You Can Prevent Wildfires.”
In addition to preventing the start of a wildfire, people can also mitigate the risk of fighting a wildfire near their homes or damage to the home itself by using Firewise practices. For more information on how to prevent wildfires and how to protect your home and community visit http://www.dof.virginia.gov, http://www.firewise.org and www.smokeybear.com.
The Wildland Firefighter Foundation is one of several organizations that support the Wildland Fire Family, for a very moving memorial to the fallen firefighters please visit https://wffoundation.org/the-fallen/