Idaho Hosts Western Regions Wildfire Summit

The Idaho Response Center in Boise was the hub for pivotal discussions on wildfire management and preparedness as Federal Emergency Management Association (FEMA) Region 10 hosted Western Regions Wildfire Summit. Dozens of experts and leaders from state and federal agencies gathered to discuss and prepare for the 2024 fire season.

During the summit, attendees were provided with a critical briefing by the National Interagency Fire Center’s Predictive Services on the expected conditions for the 2024 fire season, highlighting the importance of preparedness. Discussions also delved into strategies for post-wildfire restoration and effective mitigation practices to build resilience against future wildfires.

Another focus of the summit was enhancing collaboration between federal and state partners, as outlined in the recommendations presented by FEMA’s Public Assistance Director, Robert Pesapane. Deputy Director of FEMA Individual Assistance, Zach Usher, introduced innovative approaches to post-fire sheltering and housing, emphasizing support systems for affected communities.

Further insights came from the U.S. Forest Service, which shared lessons from hazardous tree operations during the 2020 Oregon wildfires and updates to their rating systems. The summit also marked the introduction of FEMA’s new Interagency Coordination Division, which seeks to boost efficiency in post-fire recovery efforts through enhanced interagency collaboration.

Open discussions allowed participants to address ongoing challenges, explore updates to the Fire Management Assistance Grant (FMAG) program, and discuss future enhancements in legal and operational frameworks. These conversations were instrumental in identifying improvement areas and setting actionable goals among emergency management professionals.

The summit wrapped up with a strong commitment from all attendees to apply the shared knowledge and strategies to their respective roles and regions, reinforcing a collective dedication to making the 2024 fire season a model for preparedness and interagency cooperation.

“It’s evident that the strength of our preparedness lies in unity,” said IOEM Director, Brad Richy. “Bringing together the expertise and resources from state and federal agencies helps ensure Idaho is better equipped to face the challenges of the wildfire season with robust, collaborative strategies. We are committed to transforming the insights gained here into actions that protect our communities and enhance our resilience against future threats.”