M.T. DeGrosky, Chief Executive Officer
The Guidance Group, Washburn, Wisconsin, USA
Today, many fire agencies acknowledge that they cannot protect all citizens from all wildland fires. Our limitations become most apparent during major fires at the wildland-urban interface. Citizens too, are beginning to understand that neither land management agencies nor local fire authorities can maintain fire suppression capabilities sufficient to conserve private property under extreme fire conditions. Meanwhile, governments constantly reevaluate both the missions and the capabilities of public fire management agencies. With these evaluations, come a growing understanding that the private property owner bears a margin of responsibility for protecting his or her own safety and property.
Progressive public fire agencies will adapt to this changing operational environment by recognizing the importance of empowering people to take responsibility for their own safety and developing their own fire mitigation strategies. In fact, experience suggests that people will rigorously implement only those fire prevention and mitigation strategies that they help develop themselves. Therefore, today, many of our best solutions are "community-based solutions."
Community-based solutions allow groups of people to rally around a commonly perceived problem that threatens their community; agree on the nature of the problem; and tackle it. Highly successful community efforts produce durable results, and derive from processes that are participatory, inclusive and highly collaborative.
Successful community-based solutions also require "community capacity," or an ability to act. A combination of commitment, resources and skills that a community can deploy represents that community’s capacity to address a problem. This paper explores ways in which public agencies can initiate and facilitate community efforts, build community capacity, develop commitment and produce lasting results.
Read more about facilitating community-based solutions in our 13-page PDF file.