More than 300 firefighters converge on Tucson to share ideas at - Tucson News Now

More than 300 firefighters converge on Tucson to share ideas at fire conference

(Source: Tucson News Now) (Source: Tucson News Now)
TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) -

More than 300 firefighters from 21 states and five continents have gathered at the Ventana Canyon Resort in Tucson to debate fire suppression ideas and to learn more about managing fire for social, economic and ecological benefits.

The conference runs from Nov. 28 to Dec. 2 and is hosted by the Association for Fire Ecology and the Southwest Fire Science Consortium.

The conference is held every two years and this is the second time it has been held in Tucson.

It will cover a variety of topics and workshops such as fire in a warming climate, restoring fire as a tool in forest management and how to manage fire suppression in a time of dwindling budgets.

There will also be tours on the Tree Ring Research Lab at the University of Arizona and a hike into the Santa Catalina Mountains, the scene of two large wildland fires, the Bullock and Aspen fires.

A big topic of conversation among the 325 attendees at the conference is the current fire in Gatlinburg, TN, which has led to three deaths.

There is agreement those kinds of fires will happen but they can be managed.

“We can prevent these catastrophic events which threaten towns, homes and people’s lives if we allow fire back into the system where it belongs,” said Don Falk a fire scientist at the University of Arizona. “Fire is not the enemy but it’s an environmental factor that we have to learn to live with.”

Falk said the policy of putting out fires rather than letting them burn a century ago has contributed to large, devastating fires across the country. By not allowing the vegetation on the floor of the forest to burn naturally, it has become fuel for fires which are now impossible to control.

The Yarnell Fire in Northern Arizona, which killed 19 firefighters four years ago, has provided a lesson for wildland firefighters.

“The lesson we have learned at Yarnell is at a certain level, as a society, we have to say the house can be rebuilt, the life cannot be returned,” Falk said.

He says that it’s a difficult decision for firefighters to make in the heat of the moment to leave a house which is going to be lost to fire but added “we have to decide if a human life is worth a human life.”

Many departments across the country, he said, have adopted the policy that the life comes first which is one result of the Yarnell tragedy.

Another topic of discussion is how to protect communities when fire suppression money gets cut, as it has in recent years.

Falk says fire suppression eats up half the allocated budget while the other half goes to roads, trails, bridges and education.

“Honestly, I wish we could get members of Congress to sit in the back of the room to listen to the expertise which is here,” he said.

Copyright 2016 Tucson News Now. All rights reserved.

MOBILE USERS: Download our app, to get breaking news alerts, weather forecasts and exclusive content on your Apple and Android devices.

  • Wildfire tragedyMore>>

  • Park, trail dedicated to 19 fallen Arizona firefighters

    Park, trail dedicated to 19 fallen Arizona firefighters

    Tuesday, November 29 2016 7:48 AM EST2016-11-29 12:48:02 GMT
    Tuesday, November 29 2016 6:51 PM EST2016-11-29 23:51:37 GMT
    (Source: KPHO/KTVK)(Source: KPHO/KTVK)

    A rugged section of brush-covered hills where 19 Arizona firefighters were killed in a 2013 wildfire was dedicated as a new state memorial park Tuesday. 

    A rugged section of brush-covered hills where 19 Arizona firefighters were killed in a 2013 wildfire was dedicated as a new state memorial park Tuesday. 

  • Some charities not handing over money meant for Hotshot families

    Some charities not handing over money meant for Hotshot families

    Tuesday, October 20 2015 12:51 AM EDT2015-10-20 04:51:14 GMT
    Tuesday, October 20 2015 2:01 PM EDT2015-10-20 18:01:41 GMT
    Two years have passed since 19 Hotshot firefighters lost their lives while battling the Yarnell Hill Fire. Donations began pouring in shortly after the tragedy from all over the world. However, it did attract some fraud and other charities willing to use the tragedy to raise funds for other needs.
    Two years have passed since 19 Hotshot firefighters lost their lives while battling the Yarnell Hill Fire. Donations began pouring in shortly after the tragedy from all over the world. However, it did attract some fraud and other charities willing to use the tragedy to raise funds for other needs.
  • Arizona WildfiresWildfiresMore>>

  • Forest officials: Drone flight hindered firefighting efforts

    Forest officials: Drone flight hindered firefighting efforts

    Monday, March 20 2017 3:46 PM EDT2017-03-20 19:46:40 GMT
    Monday, March 20 2017 3:46 PM EDT2017-03-20 19:46:40 GMT

    Coconino National Forest officials say a drone hindered efforts to fight a northern Arizona grass fire.

    Coconino National Forest officials say a drone hindered efforts to fight a northern Arizona grass fire.

  • New wildfire burning north of Flagstaff

    New wildfire burning north of Flagstaff

    Friday, March 17 2017 9:15 PM EDT2017-03-18 01:15:41 GMT
    Friday, March 17 2017 9:15 PM EDT2017-03-18 01:15:41 GMT
    The Kendrick fire is thought to be human-caused.  Friday 17 March, 2017[Source: Coconino National Forest]The Kendrick fire is thought to be human-caused. Friday 17 March, 2017[Source: Coconino National Forest]

    A new wildfire is burning across 250 acres of grasslands north of Flagstaff. Coconino National Forest (CNF) officials say the Kendrick fire is spreading across an area 15 miles north of Flagstaff.  

    A new wildfire is burning across 250 acres of grasslands north of Flagstaff. Coconino National Forest (CNF) officials say the Kendrick fire is spreading across an area 15 miles north of Flagstaff.  

  • Monsoon Links: Stay safe during severe weather

    Monsoon Links: Stay safe during severe weather

    Find out how you can get the latest severe weather alerts to your mobile phone and e-mail, along with links to rain totals in your backyard, safety tips for when floods, thunderstorms, and dust storms hit, plus where to send you own pictures and video of the monsoon.

    Find out how you can get the latest severe weather alerts to your mobile phone and e-mail, along with links to rain totals in your backyard, safety tips for when floods, thunderstorms, and dust storms hit, plus where to send you own pictures and video of the monsoon.

Powered by Frankly