Twitter is a vital tool for gathering intelligence and for raising awareness about natural disasters, especially during wildfire season. The tweets from local residents and dedicated individuals monitoring scanners and emergency radio, are an essential intelligence resource and often provide emergency information well out in front of any official reports. With the current instability at Twitter there is a concern that this resource may experience temporary outages or be shut down completely. We hope this doesn’t happen, but want to remind those in the disaster response and emergency management industry that WildfireIntel.org is a free and open forum for discussing everything wildfire, including the reporting of new and active incidents.
A Brief History of WildfireIntel.org
The 2017 wildfire season thrust the threat of wildfires back into the public spotlight. Numerous fires across the United States grabbed nationwide media attention but none more than the two most significant California fires; The October Fire Siege in Napa/Sonoma and the Thomas Fire in the Ventura/Santa Barbara area. With broadcast and social media flooding in, one trusted source of wildfire intelligence was surprisingly absent from the conversation. Without notice, during the late season chaos of the Thomas fire, the WildlandFire.com forum was taken offline and all the data was lost.
What was WildlandFire.com?
WildlandFire.com was conceived in the early nineties as a way to provide, “a quick, reliable system to allow firefighters and other employees (and their families) the ability to voice their thoughts, ideas, experiences, or even ask a few simple questions.”. By the late nineties the forum gained traction, soon becoming a trusted source within the firefighting community.
Wildfire Intelligence Forum
Understanding the essential role this type of web forum plays, a conversation started on how to revive the website. A group of “devout users and former moderators” ultimately decided it was best to spin-off a new website. This new website, branded wildfireintel.org, was created as a non-profit with the mission to create a forum for discussing “topics important to the fire community”. Relevant subjects include fire related “incidents, jobs, industry, safety, and health”. Should twitter falter as a wildfire reporting resource, wildfireintel.org is a viable back up option. The site organizes fires by GACC region and has a place for wildfire intelligence in all 50 states.
For More Information and How to Register
Knowing that forums survive by the active participation of its users the founders of the website are encouraging the fire community to contribute to the site. The founders hope that with increased participation an “active and sustainable wildfire community” will again foster. For more information, please visit the wildfireintel.org website and/or become more involved by registering.