For several months during 2011, wildfires throughout the Southwest Area and Mexico caused air quality impacts on public health across the region, with significant impacts measured hundreds of miles away from individual wildfires. In order to address the emerging issue, a concerted multi-state interagency air quality coordination effort was initiated. This effort resulted in clear, concise and consistent messages on potential smoke impacts to the public as well as information on the level of current impacts and how the public can protect itself when impacted by wildfire smoke. These levels of coordination and the concerted effort were unprecedented at the time. Experts across a variety of fields and agencies participated in this coordination effort. Modeling support included fire behavior models in Wildland Fire Decision Support System (WFDSS) which was used to inform BlueSky smoke emissions modeling. In combination, these were used to predict and inform the public on potential smoke emissions. Numerous smoke monitors were deployed to supplement the existing network and this data was analyzed to validate the models and inform the public and public health officials of the magnitude of impacts in various communities. Cooperators were briefed daily on modeling results and monitoring data which was used to develop products for the public, Health Departments, Incident Management Teams, media, and Agencies to inform issuance of health alerts, news releases, and communicate smoke impacts. Lessons learned included the importance of early coordination efforts with key partners, consistent messaging, deployment of equipment, and the utilization of decision support tools. In the Southwest Area and Nationally there are multiple opportunities to build from this effort, to increase the capability and capacity on multiple fronts including, communications, networking, monitoring, decision support, smoke modeling, and public health impacts from acute exposure to smoke. This webinar was presented by Emily Irwin and Josh Hall and hosted by the Wildland Fire Lessons Learned Center, the Joint Fire Science Program, and the International Association of Wildland Fire.

Media Record Details

Apr 17, 2012
Emily Irwin, Josh Hall
Fire Communication & Education, Public Perspectives of Fire Management, Fire Effects, Ecological - First Order, Emissions, Management Approaches, Smoke & Air Quality, Fire & Smoke Models, Smoke & Populations, Smoke Emissions, Smoke Monitoring, Air Quality