September 10th, 2019

Wildfire management as a concept is entirely unique in the sense that it operates as an emergency response agency but simultaneously must account for forest health and proper ecological stewardship. This is rare combination; you don’t see the Coast Guard accepting marine ecosystem health as one if its responsibilities. The most analogous profession I have been able to identify are physicians, but applied to the health of a landscape as opposed to an individual. Both fields advocate for the proactive approach through little treatments over time, but inevitably must perform reactionary, technical miracles in hopes of evading disaster. Physicians constantly preach for us to eat well, exercise, sleep well, avoid the bad stuff; but inevitably must perform expensive and intrusive angioplasties or bypasses for those of us that do not heed. Wildfire managers may not preach, but do push for proactive burning, fuels management, replanting of non-flammable native species; but increasingly must be reactionary and utilize significant resources to wrangle intensive forest fires. Clearly there are some incongruities with this analogy, with the biggest being: doctors have a clear message to the public and people are free to follow their own individualistic desires, wildfire managers do not have a clear message to the public and people have no idea how at risk they are to losing everything.

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