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World Fire Congress focuses on global collaboration and firefighter safety

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World Fire Congress 2024 addresses global firefighting strategies and challenges

Last week, FEMA and the U.S. Fire Administration hosted the inaugural World Fire Congress in Washington, D.C., welcoming delegates from over 50 nations.

This event, as reported by FEMA, aligns with the Biden-Harris Administration’s efforts to mitigate fire risks, address wildfires, and enhance firefighter health and safety.

The conference focused on sharing best practices and improving global response capabilities amid increasing wildfire threats driven by climate change.

Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro N. Mayorkas addressed the delegates, highlighting the importance of the event.

Mayorkas said: “What you did here these past few days and the many advances to the work of firefighting and fire prevention that will grow from it in the years ahead, will save lives — of first responders and of all those who depend on them.

“[It] is a recognition of the obligation that we have to the world’s firefighters: to be there for all of them, as they have been there for all of us.”

Focus on firefighter health and safety

FEMA Administrator Deanne Criswell emphasised the interconnected nature of modern disasters.

Criswell said: “The world has watched as our ecosystem — our shared home — has been challenged at every turn. And the reality is, we’ve never been more closely connected. A disaster in one nation can cause ripple effects across the globe.

“That’s why this World Fire Congress is so important — it’s an opportunity to build upon these relationships and continue to share knowledge and best practices with one another.”

U.S. Fire Administrator Dr. Lori Moore-Merrell also addressed the participants, underscoring the shared challenges faced by firefighters globally.

“We know that when emergencies or disasters strike, firefighters respond. Your responders are first on scene in often unexpected circumstances and unfamiliar surroundings.

“They are exposed to toxic chemicals or conditions that threaten their physical wellbeing and even their lives,” Moore-Merrell said.

Establishing a global fire service leadership network

This historic event established a global fire service leadership network dedicated to supporting and strengthening fire services worldwide.

The network aims to develop solutions to common challenges through the Statement of Founding Principles and Objectives.

The Congress will convene every two years, with the next meeting hosted by the United Kingdom Home Office and National Fire Chiefs Council in 2026.

IFSJ Comment

The inaugural World Fire Congress marks a pivotal moment in global firefighting efforts.

By bringing together representatives from over 50 nations, the Congress facilitates the exchange of knowledge and best practices essential for addressing the increasing threat of wildfires and other fire-related disasters.

The focus on firefighter health and safety, highlighted by Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro N. Mayorkas, FEMA Administrator Deanne Criswell, and U.S.

Fire Administrator Dr. Lori Moore-Merrell, underscores the importance of international cooperation in safeguarding first responders and the communities they serve.

The establishment of a global fire service leadership network is a significant step towards creating a unified approach to firefighting and fire prevention.

The biennial meetings will ensure that the dialogue and collaboration initiated at this Congress continue to evolve, enabling nations to develop robust strategies to mitigate fire risks.

The commitment to holding the next Congress in the United Kingdom in 2026 further solidifies the ongoing dedication to this global initiative.

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