Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Cooperation could improve, firefighters say

Self-evaluations reported for 23 wildfires

Express Staff Writer

    A study of Beaver Creek Fire response based on self-assessments by the agencies involved shows slightly lower-than-average cooperation among the agencies and some dissatisfaction with cost-sharing compared to other fire-fighting efforts in the region.
    The Beaver Creek firefighters reported good results in the areas of evacuations, sheltering evacuees and public information.
    The fire burned 111,500 acres of mostly national forest and BLM land on the west side of the Wood River Valley last August.
    The study, titled “Improving Community Response to Wildfire: 2013 Fire Season Findings Report,” was conducted by the Fire Chasers Research Team at North Carolina State University.
    The researchers asked agencies involved in fighting 22 wildfires in Idaho, Montana, Oregon and Washington, as well as one in Colorado, to evaluate the overall effort’s effectiveness in six categories. The study compared the results for each fire with the regional average.
    Responses from the Beaver Creek agencies did not diverge greatly from the average in any category, with two possible exceptions.
    Local respondents reported an 11 percent higher positive response to the statement, “Social media was used effectively to provide timely public updates concerning the status of the fire.”
    They reported a 16 percent lower-than-average positive response to the statement, “The process through which cost share was decided upon was fair.”
    Neither Ketchum Fire Chief Mike Elle nor Wood River Fire & Rescue Chief Bart Lassman could be reached by press deadline Tuesday to comment on the study.

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