NFPA Journal - May/June 2020 - 23

Dispatches Briefs
Animals can help,
but also hurt, in
wildfire defense

GETT Y IMAGES

In the fall, as wildfires
swept through the
Los Angeles area,
an unlikely hero
emerged to help save
the Ronald Reagan
Presidential Library
and Museum: goats.
The goats were
brought in to eat vegetation surrounding
the facility, reportedly creating fire

breaks to help keep
flames from entering
the property.
But a new study
suggests we should
be careful as we
pursue solutions like
these to stem wildfire spread. Grazing
animals like goats,
deer, and cows can
certainly chomp
down on fuel loads,
but considering
which kinds of plants
they are eating is
key to determining
whether their hunger
is actually helping the
situation or hurting it.
That's because they
might be eating vegetation that isn't prone
to burning, leaving
behind dry, highly
combustible plants,
according to a study
published in March in
the journal Trends in
Ecology & Evolution.
"A lot of the things
that make a plant
good to eat are the
things that make
it hard to burn,"
study author and

conservation biologist Claire Foster said
in a press release.
"When you take
out all the nutritious,
palatable plants,
those left over tend
to be drier and more
flammable. ... It's very
clear that when used
strategically, and in
the right ecosystems,
mammals like goats
and cattle can have
strong fire-suppressive effects, but

that date were largely
put on hold. Now,
NFPA and State Farm,
the two organizers of
the annual event, are
urging participants to
get creative with their
wildfire preparedness
activities, now and in
the future.
"NFPA and State
Farm urge everyone
not to feel pressured
to have gatherings or
events that may compromise public health

I've also seen many
examples where they
actually do the opposite and increase the
risk of severe fires."
Foster's research
also studied the use of
other, "less obvious"
animals in wildfire
defense efforts,
including birds,
termites, and even
elephants. The study
found, for example,
that elephants can
trample vegetation to
the point of creating
useful fire breaks.
Access the study
online by searching
"Animals as Agents in
Fire Regimes" on cell.
com.

at this time," Michele
Steinberg, director
of NFPA's Wildfire
division, wrote in a
blog on March 20.
"We support efforts to
postpone your event
and planning activities
until the end of the
year or such time that
it is safe to do so."
Additionally,
NFPA and State
Farm released a list
of suggestions for
engaging in wildfire
preparedness activities that can be done
while still adhering
to social distancing
practices, which limit
person-to-person contact and work to stem
the spread of viruses
like COVID-19. "Fortunately, there are many
things people can do
as individuals or family
units immediately
around their properties that make a real
difference in wildfire
risk reduction," Steinberg said in a later
blog. Such activities
include removing dry

2020 Wildfire
Prep Day can be
any day now

Wildfire Community
Preparedness Day was
officially May 2, but
with the coronavirus
pandemic affecting
the globe, plans for
holding events to promote wildfire safety on

needles, dead leaves,
and other debris from
roofs and gutters and
creating defensible
space around your
foundation.
Learn more at nfpa.
org/wildfireprepday.

PG&E agrees to
manslaughter
charges in deadly
Camp Fire

California utility
Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E)
was expected in late
April to plead guilty to
84 counts of involuntary manslaughter and
one felony count of
unlawfully causing a
fire for the November
2018 Camp Fire, the
deadliest and most
destructive wildfire in
California history.
PG&E's electrical lines sparked
the wildland blaze,
which razed several
northern California
towns, killing at least
84 people, mostly
elderly individuals in
the tiny retirement
community of Paradise, and destroying
some 18,000 structures. Earlier reports
attributed 86 deaths
to the Camp Fire, but
two of those deaths
are now being disputed, NBC News
reported in March,
which is the reason
for the lower number
of manslaughter
charges. Damage estimates for the fire have
run over $16 billion.
In January, PG&E
also filed for bankruptcy, in part to set
up a trust for victims
of the Camp Fire,
according to various
media reports. If the
company can't get
out of bankruptcy
by June 30, the state
has agreed to essentially take over the
company, California
Governor Gavin
Newsom announced
in March.
NFPA Journal's
coverage of the Camp
Fire detailed how

the demographics
and topography of
areas like Paradise
contributed to the
fire's deadliness. Read
the story at nfpa.org/
campfire.

Home Fire
Sprinkler Week
kicks off in
mid-May

Home Fire Sprinkler
Week, which promotes the life-saving
power and importance of home fire
sprinklers and works
to dispel myths about
the technology, runs
from May 17 to May 23
this year. The annual
event is organized by
the NFPA Fire Sprinkler Initiative, the
Home Fire Sprinkler
Coalition, and the
Home Fire Sprinkler
Coalition Canada.
According to NFPA
data, the presence of
home fire sprinklers
reduces home fire
deaths by 81 percent.
Nearly 100 percent
of the time, sprinklers keep fires from
spreading beyond
the room where they
originated.
As of mid-April,
no changes to Home
Fire Sprinkler Week
had been announced
due to the coronavirus pandemic,
but a number of
suggested activities
for the week do not
include gatherings
and could take place
regardless of the
COVID-19 situation
come May 17. These
include, for example,
spearheading a social
media campaign in
your community to
educate the public on
home fire sprinklers
and convince local
legislators to support
their use, or writing
letters to the editor
for local news publications advocating for
laws requiring residential fire sprinklers.
Learn more at
nfpa.org/homefire
sprinklerweek.

N F PA . O R G / J O U R N A L * NFPA JOURNAL

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http://nfpa.org/campfire http://nfpa.org/wildfireprepday http://nfpa.org/campfire http://nfpa.org/wildfireprepday http://nfpa.org/homefiresprinklerweek http://nfpa.org/homefiresprinklerweek http://NFPA.ORG/JOURNAL

NFPA Journal - May/June 2020

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of NFPA Journal - May/June 2020

Contents
NFPA Journal - May/June 2020 - Cover1
NFPA Journal - May/June 2020 - Cover2
NFPA Journal - May/June 2020 - 1
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NFPA Journal - May/June 2020 - Contents
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NFPA Journal - May/June 2020 - Cover3
NFPA Journal - May/June 2020 - Cover4
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nfpa/journal_20201112
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