PREFACE – Extract
This book aims to join up the story on wildfires to provide a strategic perspective on the vital but internationally neglected topic: the prevention of wildfire. Wildfire is commonly considered and addressed in three segments,
comprising: pre-fire planning, suppression of the fire, and post-fire recovery. However, there is a stage before this – prevention of ignition. The term‘prevention’ is sometimes linked with pre-fire planning, but the idea of
‘planning’ commonly carries the tacit assumption that something is going tohappen. While, of course, not all wildfires can be prevented, overlookingpreventative actions promotes a belief of an inevitability that no wildfires canbe prevented.
There is possibly a range of reasons for this oversight. The agency responsible for wildfire in industrialised countries, fire services or fire brigades, have historically been tasked with undertaking fire suppression.They have become specialised in dealing with the fire occurrence itself, rather than the much broader issues in relation to wildfire, such as: What is the cause of wildfire? Why is wildfire increasing? What is the impact of wildfire? What is the best way to prevent wildfire? Who should be involved in decision-making around wildfire? What values are under threat by wildfire? At the same time, other disciplines have been reluctant to add their contribution to the wildfire conversation. This is perhaps due to the competence of fire services in the task of extinguishing fires, but also the speed of change in numbers and severity of wildfires now experienced, has caught people unprepared. Linking multiple voices is complex, especially when the structures for such a process are not in place. It is also difficult to bring about major changes when complexities around power, gender, politics, ideology and hierarchical
systems are present, as has evolved in some fire services, some government departments, and some lobby groups.
This book seeks to highlight the dichotomy between the situation that a significant proportion of wildfires are caused by humans, while the great majority of actions in relation to wildfire involve changes to the natural environment. This is undertaken in the context of climate change, species extinction, and emergencies, due to fossil fuel use and land clearing, leading to conditions that will be inhospitable to current human societies. In the
words of climate scientists, a deep transformation based on a fundamental reorientation of human values, equity, behaviour, institutions, economies, and technologies, is required.
SOURCE: Stanley, Janet; March, Alan; Ogloff, James and Thompson, Jason. “Feeling the heat: International perspectives on the prevention of wildfire ignition.” Vernon Press, 2020.
ACKNOWLEDGEMENT OF COUNTRY
The Brotherhood of St Laurence acknowledges and recognises the Traditional Owners of the land upon which we live and work, and we pay our respects to their Elders both past and present
Produced by the librarians at the Brotherhood of St Laurence in Melbourne, Australia