During the first week of February 2015, fire professionals from Boise, ID and Austin, TX met in Austin for a Fire Adapted Communities learning exchange. Although Boise and Austin are very different with regards to geography and population, members of each fire department were able to exchange valuable information based on several shared characteristics. Both Boise and Austin have been affected by wildfire in recent years, and both communities recognized the need to make the changes necessary to reduce wildfire impact on residential areas.
The exchange provided valuable insight and fresh perspectives for fire professionals from both cities. Some of the recommendations decided upon at the exchange included:
- improving internal collaboration,
- engaging firefighter unions early in the change process,
- encouraging cross-training,
- seeking input from operations personnel for wildfire mitigation projects, and
- ensuring consistency from all partners when communicating with the public.
- This learning exchange provided a unique opportunity for fire departments from different locations to share their knowledge in a way that mutually benefited both cities. As one participant stated, “our voice is louder together.”