Maui fires investigation: Fire Safety Research Institute appointed by Attorney General Lopez

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In a recent announcement, Hawaiʻi Attorney General Anne E. Lopez disclosed her choice for a comprehensive probe into the Maui wildfires.

FSRI to evaluate state and county preparedness for Maui fires

The Fire Safety Research Institute (FSRI), a leading nonprofit research body, will assess state and county agency strategies and response to the Maui wildfires.

These catastrophic fires led to a tragic loss of life and caused damages approximating $5.5 billion.

Attorney General seeks clarity and accountability

Attorney General Lopez stated: “I am committed to an independent, unbiased, and transparent investigation into government actions during the fires.”

Her commitment aims to renew the public’s faith in the government, especially after this devastating event.

In a reassuring tone, she added: “We can improve our responsiveness and resilience. Once the FSRI investigation is completed, our next step is to take decisive action.”

The investigation will scrutinise government agency actions during the initial 24 to 72 hours of the fire outbreak.

Lopez intends to keep the Hawaiʻi community updated at the conclusion of each investigation phase and once the final report is ready in late 2024.

FSRI’s three-phase investigation

Dr. Steve Kerber, FSRI vice president and executive director, expressed FSRI’s empathy with the Maui community.

His team aims to offer an evidence-based understanding of the incident to prevent future recurrences.

This investigation, which will closely involve local emergency services and federal, state, and local organisations, will span three phases:

  1. Fact-finding on Maui fires’ progression: This initial phase, estimated to last three months, focuses on gathering data to construct a comprehensive incident timeline.
  2. Data analysis and agency response: In approximately six months, this phase aims to evaluate the functioning of various fire protection systems during the Maui fires.
  3. Future prevention strategies: The final phase will offer insight into preventing such disasters in the future, producing a Forward-Looking Report after approximately 12 months.

“The FSRI investigation and what we learn from science and sound investigative practices will result in a set of concrete policy recommendations that will help ensure a safer, more prepared Hawaiʻi,” added Attorney General Lopez.

IFSJ Comment

The selection of the Fire Safety Research Institute by Attorney General Lopez to investigate the Maui fires holds significant implications for the global fire and safety community.

The scale of the Maui wildfires, both in terms of human tragedy and financial costs, underscores the urgent need for rigorous, evidence-based investigations.

The three-phase approach proposed by FSRI, particularly its emphasis on producing actionable, forward-looking recommendations, has the potential to greatly influence fire preparedness and response strategies not just in Hawaiʻi but around the world.

Collaborative efforts between government bodies and research institutes, as seen here, might very well set the gold standard for addressing future fire-related challenges.

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