PyroLife International Symposium: Towards an Integrated Fire Management
Highlights from the PyroLife Symposium webinar on July 22, 2020 by Pooja Pandey.
Does fire need policy? For most of the century fire management is associated with suppressing the fire. Sustainably managing the natural resources and fire might be important to the government and the policy makers but still is not the priority for most of the countries. George Boustras looked at different examples of fire policies and offered few perspectives to address this.
Management of resources is important because it offers the motive and structure to strategic and skillful planning.
The need of the hour is to expand the role of the fire through liberal application of current fire policies.
Fire engineering is important to understand – to protect the environment (life and property) from the effects of fire. Fire engineering stands on two pillars of policy and practice which are generally categorized based on the techniques of detection, protection, suppression and management. On the other hand, human behavior plays an important role during the fire events. It usually depends on the design of public space (policy) and people are likely to apply logical, judicious and altruistic response in the risk situation.
Though it is not easy to plan and implement the decisions and policies in an affirmative manner. Several challenges are faced during the safety protection of a risk, particularly fire such as lack of funds, improper communication between the parties and lack of knowledge for the subject. Fire policies and institutional frameworks have failed to address the problem of fire and to understand this few example were shown based on the real fire incidents.
Despite the recent advancements, there are various challenges that need to be dealt with for better prevention strategies. These challenges were demonstrated by examples from Pedrógão Grande, Solea and Mati fire. In Mati fire almost 102 people died due to communication chaos between the fire department and local traffic police. In addition to criticism of the crisis management and co-operation during the blaze, there were issues with the preparation and prevention to avert such a catastrophe.
During the Pedrógão Grande, Spain, fire which took place in the year 2017 where 53,000 hectares of land was burnt. The reasons were similar to that of the Mati fire, the prevalence of the fuel, inaccurate and missing information on fire suppression masterplan. Like the Mati fire, the authorities came up with an explanation of having limited resources to handle such fires. The outcomes of these studies concluded with a need of active public participation and adopting a model relevant to the society.
“Redesigning of the fire policies”
The case studies are not limited to fires in the Southern Europe. The examples demonstrated from the narrative of England (Bradford, Kings Cross, Camberwell and Grenfell), shows a common fallacy which is lack of proper fire risk assessment. All these fires had the same defiance, the only difference was the scale of fire.
Most fire management issues are rooted in the policy making. Despite having the resources and past experience of large fires, there are several barriers that hinder the proper management of resources and implementation of policies. George suggested that to solve the challenges of translating fire to policy and to develop safe environment “we need creation and establishment of culture to redesign policies” which could be done through:
- Proper planning, to deal with fire at both macro and micro scale
- Implementation of policies which should include the risk analysis of the consequences
The EU Civil Protection Mechanism is working through introducing rescEU, which is an additional component to CPM that enhances the protection towards disaster and management of emerging risks.
Photo credit for featured image: Alex JD on Flickr