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The Launch of Wildfire Breakthrough

Why?

With the backdrop of a frightening start to the wildfire season, as Fort McMurray in Alberta was engulfed in flames that spread over almost 500,000 hectacres and resulted in the entire town’s 88,000 inhabitants to be evacuated for several weeks, we are launching Wildfire Breakthrough to help find a solution to wildfires.

This is a new, non-profit organization established in Spring 2016 with a single purpose - to persuade governments to commit to serious research to find a scientific way to prevent and suppress wildfires.

How?

Our organisation is building a program to encourage federal, state and private investment into research and development of new, innovative technologies/materials science that can extinguish wildfires at source, complementing current approaches to fire management, prevention and suppression. The purpose of the initiative is to raise awareness and to persuade U.S./ state government agencies to commit to a more targeted and enhanced funding priority for research.

The financial cost of fighting wildfires now exceeds $2 billion each year and is likely to continue to increase over time. Persistent drought conditions and the keenly felt impacts of climate change in the U.S. and around the world contribute to this global challenge. In addition, lives are lost and livelihoods destroyed every year.

While efforts are continuously afoot to improve fire-fighting techniques, logistics, training and management of resources -- especially in light of the catastrophic fire seasons of 2014-2015 and the devastation in Alberta in Spring this year -- not enough is being done to actually stop these wildfires through advanced technologies. Visionary researchers at U.S. government facilities, publically funded universities and labs around the country have the capability and bandwidth, but not the mandate or funding, to begin to solve the problem.

What We’ve Observed:

  • Wildfire Breakthrough believes that research facilities operated by the US Forest Service (USFS) and other public institutions have the capacity to do the kind of “moonshot” research necessary to develop tools which can suppress fires quickly once they start. 
  • It appears so far, that this kind of research is not currently being undertaken, but Wildfire Breakthrough believes that the infrastructure and intellectual capacity exists within the US government – what is missing is a specific mandate + budget.
  • An increasing percentage of USFS (US Fire Service) funding is directed to fight mega-fires, drawing critical investment away from prevention and research activities.
  • Wildfire Breakthrough is investigating ways in which existing research infrastructure can be engaged in finding solutions, and reaching out to national/regional experts, and potential advocates for perspective and guidance.

Our Goals

Wildfire Breakthrough is looking to galvanize public support through this website, meeting with key government and fire suppression leaders, with the following goals:

  • Encourage the public to acknowledge the imperative of finding a solution by adding their names to its online petition
  • Encourage others to support the initiative through local and national publicity.
  • Call for The Administration to set up an independent task force to take ownership and drive the program
  • Call for funds of $20M per annum to be allocated for up to five years.

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