This past Thursday (May 10), I was invited by the Metropolitan Area Planning Council (MAPC) to present 'Fire as a Natural Hazard' to the Boston Public Safety Group. The presentation formed part of one of four meetings focused on the development of the hazard mitigation plan (HMP) for the city of Boston. The topics discussed at this meeting included the natural hazard mitigation planning process, earthquakes, flooding and hurricane mitigation. Under the federal directive of the Disaster Mitigation Act of 2000, and in cooperation with Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), this complex planning process is being coordinated through the Mayor's Office of Emergency Management (OEM).
There were many federal, state and local stakeholders' present and included officials from police, fire, health, housing, sewer and water. One of the very interesting components of the meeting was the distillation of various thoughts by a Social and Environmental Research Institute (SERI) research fellow who is working on this and several other similar projects in the greater Boston area. The level of detail and complexity in this planning process is astounding and brought me great comfort in knowing that our public officials are going to great lengths to keep us 'safe'.
One of the salient considerations of all four presentations was 'climate change' and how this phenomenon is going to impact hazard mitigation and response activities over the next 50 years. From a wildfire perspective, Massachusetts fire seasons have traditionally occurred in the spring and fall of each year. However, with the advent of 'climate change' the fire seasons may begin to extend into summer, as summer is predicted to have a higher frequency of short term droughts. For more information on 'climate change' in Massachusetts please see BioMap 2 (Chapter 2, Page 10).
Image: Hazard mitigation meeting mapping exercise, led by SERI.