Since 1997, The International Association of Wildland Fire has hosted the Wildland Fire Safety Summit. Each year, individuals and natural resource groups gather to discuss topics like wildland fire safety, new discoveries in the fire safety world, and how to promote the best possible practices during the event of a wildland fire. In 2007, the Human Dimensions Conference joined together with the Wildland Fire Safety Summit to incorporate the aspects of human behavior into the conference. This is a great partnership because both elements of safety and human behavior are key factors when considering how to apply best practices during the event of a wildland fire.
On December 10-14, 2018, the Wildland Safety Summit was hosted in Asheville, NC at the Renaissance Hotel. This year’s conference was rightfully titled “Rethinking the Global Wildfire Problem: Are We Focusing on the Right Problems and Right Solutions?”. During this conference, the Appalachian RC&D Fire Adapted Communities (FAC) Coalition was able to have their own panel session. During this session, coalition members Douglas Benson, Jonathan Hartsell, Jessica Hocz, Kimberly McCollum, Christina Newhouse, Melissa Patton, Frank Riley, and Lynn Sprague discussed topics like community engagement, working closely with county foresters, Urban Wildland Interface, public outreach, and engaging youth into the program. “We had a record turn out to our panel session,” said Jonathan Hartsell, a member of the FAC Coalition as well as the Executive Director of Blue Ridge RC&D Council. “We had 55 people in attendance and they were all very eager to learn more about what we are doing to educate communities that want to become more conscientious of fire danger and the effects it can have on an area.”
The Appalachian RC&D FAC Coalition is made up of five RC&D Councils from across Western North Carolina and Georgia. These councils include Blue Ridge RC&D, Carolina Land & Lakes RC&D, Mountain Valleys RC&D, Southwestern NC RC&D, and Chestatee-Chattahoochee RC&D (Georgia). This coalition works together to provide outreach and education about the Fire Adapted Communities Program across Western North Carolina and Georgia.