I am Dan Turner a 40 year fire professional/manager with CAL FIRE that included command/management responsibility for hundreds of WUI fires including many of the most damaging in state history. Educated in forestry, all hazard fire management and community planning. Currently serve as Executive Director of countywide Fire Safe Council doing community WUI fire outreach and engagement and Executive Director of Urban Forest Ecosystem Institute at Cal Poly University-San Luis Obispo. Cal Poly is developing a holistic multi-discipline WUI Fire Institute that explores fire and forest management, WUI information and data analysis, research, and education. Cal Poly academic disciplines include forestry, fire protection engineering, city and regional planning, aerospace, economics, architecture, landscape architecture, range management, biology, environmental engineering, transportation planning, environmental management, animal science, and agricultural engineering.
My experience tells me that WUI fires are a unique fire protection problem that unfortunately seems to be addressed from one of 2 extreme perspectives either as forest fire problem that affects the built environment or a built environment fire problem that affects forests; the reality is it is both simultaneously and successful approaches to mitigate the problem include both of these aspects working in concert.
I agree with previous poster that detecting new fires in the California environment is not a major challenge (it is in other regions however); the most daunting problem for fire managers is knowing where the fire is at any given moment (especially at night), its behavior, trajectory, assets at risk on that trajectory, and the ability to develop a successful management plan “on the fly” that will provide for public safety, responder safety, while minimizing built and natural environment damage.
Prevention, mitigation to reduce unwanted results from fires not prevented, community design and preparedness, efficient and effective suppression methods, and understanding the total role and impact of these on the environment are crucial to a long term solution for this wicked problem.
Wicked problem that needs a very new look, glad to see this project happening!