2023 Session Information

Sessions will address the problems and highlight the solutions for improving the wildfire resilience of buildings worldwide. Conference programming will explore...
  • the current limitations and barriers in place for homeowners, building officials, and other stakeholder groups.
  • short-term and long-term solutions based on state-of-the-art technologies, scientific developments, and best practices.
  • strategies, resources, and best practices for building wildfire prepared communities.
  • how scientific information is being put to practical use in the field and utilized to improve public policy. 
  • comprehensive approaches to advance building standards, fire codes, and policies for design, construction, and defensible space maintenance.

Keynote Sessions

Keynote Sessions will take place throughout all three programming dates. On Wednesday, February 8th, and Thursday, February 9th, the conference program will include two keynote sessions; one in the morning and one in the afternoon. On Friday, February 10th, we will have a half-day of session programming followed by the final keynote. Please note, the program is scheduled to conclude by noon on Friday, February 10th.

Take a look at the keynote topics below!

Wednesday, February 8th

  • Fire Leadership Perspectives on Preparing Communities for Wildfire

  • Note: this session name changed from "Preparing Communities for Wildfire Through Mitigation, Funding, and Equity"
    As many communities face an uncertain wildfire future, the importance of collaborative, holistic, and equitable solutions are essential to tackling the complexities of preparedness and mitigation. This session will highlight fire leadership perspectives on community preparedness and how recent state and federal investments are creating new opportunities to support fire adaptation and recovery.
    Keynote Moderator:
    Steve Hawks, CAL FIRE
    Keynote Panelists:
    Daniel Berlant, CAL FIRE
    Molly Mowery, Community Wildfire Planning Center (took place of Kate Dargan, Intterra)
    Faith Berry, FEMA
  • Wildland Urban Interface Code Comparisons: IWUIC (ICC) and Chapter 7A (California)

  • This presentation will focusing on the technical side of WUI codes and comparing CA 7A vs. ICC/IWIC WUI Code.


    Keynote Moderator:
    Randy Metz, ICC
    Keynote Speaker:
    Marcelo Hirschler, GBH International

Thursday, February 9th

  • NIST Camp Fire Research with CAL FIRE Overview

  • Presenting on the information that came from the research including information on post-fire analysis and the types of mitigation that are useful.


    Keynote Moderator:
    Steve Quarles, UC Cooperative Extension
    Keynote Speakers:
    Alex Maranghides, NIST Fire Laboratory
    Steve Hawks, CALFIRE

  • California Building Insurance - the state’s future standards and best practices for wildfire mitigation and resilience

  • Discussing where the state is going, how the commissioner is bridging the gap, reductions & incentives for communities and individuals, etc.


    Keynote Moderator:
    Janet Ruiz, Insurance Information Institute
    Keynote Panelists:
    David Shew, National Fire Protection Agency (NFPA)
    David Winnacker, Moraga-Orinda Fire Protection District
    Julia Juarez, California Department of Insurance
    Roy Wright, Insurance Institute for Business and Home Safety (IBHS)

Friday, February 10th

  • Fire resistant housing and next generation of design / construction codes

  • Centering on the theme 'Where do we go from here", the final keynote will focus on recovery and future technologies.
    Keynote Moderator: Michele Barbato, University of California Davis/CITRIS and the Banatao Institute
    Keynote Panelists: 
    Greg Anderson, CAL FIRE Office of the State Fire Marshal
    Daniel Gorham, UL Fire Safety Research Institute (FSRI)
    Michele Barbato, University of California Davis/CITRIS and the Banatao Institute
    Steve Quarles, UC Cooperative Extension

General Sessions

The WiReS program will cover a wide range of topics ranging from exposure assessment and mitigation to land use planning, community recovery, building materials and WUI code policy.  Presenters will share research advancements, methodologies, best practices, and more. Take a look at the current session information below and please stay tuned for additional information and updates!

  • Construction technologies for sustainable wildfire-resilient buildings

  • Catastrophic wildfires supercharged by extreme heat and drought conditions have caused increasingly severe damage to many communities in California and worldwide over the past few years. According to a new report by the United Nation Environmental Program, the global increase of extreme fires is projected to reach 14% by 2030, 30% by 2050, and 50% by the end of the century. Between 2005 and 2020, a total of 89,210 structures have been destroyed by wildfires in the US alone, and the number of destroyed or damaged structures is expected to rapidly increase due to an increase in wildfire hazard driven by climate change, and an increase in vulnerability due to the higher number of structures built in the wildland-urban interface. Wildfires also exert an economic burden to society due to the high costs of fire suppression, and are estimated to cause more than 33,000 deaths worldwide each year due to air pollution. It is clear that mitigating the risk of wildfire to individual houses and communities is an essential element of addressing wildfire risk today and over decadal scales in the face of climate change.

    This special session provides the opportunity to present current research efforts, recent findings, technology advancements, and modern developments in the context of sustainable construction techniques for wildfire-resilient structures. Contributions addressing both theoretical developments and practical applications from different fire-resistant construction techniques, including but not limited to earthen construction (cob, rammed earth, adobe, CEB, 3D printing, etc.), concrete-based construction (reinforced concrete, concrete blocks, 3D printing, etc.), ordinary masonry, and other fire-resistant materials. This special session aims to provide an overview of state-of-the-art methods, standards, theoretical advances, and case studies, and to identify ways for further develop rational approaches to mitigate wildfire risk for houses and other buildings. Therefore, the special session will provide an opportunity to bring together researchers, academics, design code developers, practicing engineers, architects, builders, developers, and high-tech companies active in these topical areas to share their experience and latest results, with particular focus on real-world applications.

    Session Organizer & Moderator: 
    Michele Barbato, UC Davis and CITRIS and the Banatao Institute
    Full Speaker List:
    Michele Barbato, UC Davis and CITRIS and the Banatao Institute
    M. John Jordan, Paverde LLC
    Jim Moore, NeoTerra
    Mike Eckhoff, Hoover Treated Wood Products, Inc. (CANCELED)
    Art Ludwig, Oasis Design
    Anthony Dente, Verdant Structural Engineers and Cob Research Institute (CANCELED)
    Laura Hasburgh, USDA Forest Product
    Drew Hubbell, CASBA
    Seyed Sasan Khedmatgozar Dolati, University of Texas at San Antonio
    Antonio Madrid, Formed, LLC & Native Earth Block, LLC
    Steven Judd, Interstate Brick

    Part 1 Speakers: Anthony Dente; Art Ludwig; Michele Barbato; Drew Hubbell; M. John Jordan; Jim Moore; Laura Hasburgh

    Part 2 Speakers: Antonio Madrid; Mike Eckhoff; Seyed Sasan Khedmatgozar Dolati; Steven Judd

  • Home Hardening & Defensible Space Evaluation Innovation - Panel Discussion

  • Learn from different agencies and fire safe councils who have extensively ramped up their Defensible Space & Home Hardening programs to meet community need. This session will cover the need to ensure robust data collection, improving resident engagement and most importantly helping residents take action to resolve their DS issues and HH vulnerabilities.   We will start with design or expansion of existing programs including approaches to seasonal neighborhood canvas, impact of repeat inspections, and how to generate awareness and resident requests, in addition to managing complaints, real estate request and others.   We will then cover the field collection process and discuss the resident experience including integration of resolution resources (mitigation grants, chipping services and more).  Finally explore different approaches and results in driving resident action based on a prioritized & customized set of remediation steps for that specific property. 
    This session will follow a panel format.

    Session Organizer & Moderator: 
    Jason Brooks, Fire Aside
    Full Speaker List:
    Todd Lando, Central Marin Fire
    Duncan Allard, City of Berkeley Fire
    Max Young, Ventura Fire Safe
    Dillion Sheedy, Truckee Fire
    Liam Galleher, Plumas Fire Safe

  • Build it Better with Blocks

  • On December 30, 2021 Boulder County experienced a horrific fire, known as Marshall Fire, in which over 1000 families lost their homes. A subdivision known as Sagamore, built in the late 1990's, was burned to the ground in minutes with grass-fed, 100 mph winds. All 171 houses in the Sagamore community were destroyed in the fire.
    Residents are grieving the loss of personal items, beloved pets, and a puzzled outlook at how to afford rebuilding in a red-hot and expensive construction market. Furthermore they are wondering whether living there, in an era of climate change, will ever feel as safe as it did.
    Colorado Earth is helping to provide another solution to the residents of Boulder County. Positioned just 9.0 miles from the affected area, Colorado Earth produces a masonry block that provides many needs.

    This Session will aim to deliver practical solutions for the Marshall Fire rebuild in Sagamore. Sessions include the benefits of earthen masonry construction, fireproof exterior architectural features, insurance agency mandates, and low embodied materials.

    Session Organizer & Session Speaker: Lisa Morey, Colorado Earth
    Additional Session Speakers:

    Anthony Dente, Verdant Structural Engineers and Cob Research Institute
    Bob Coffelt, Northwest AAC

  • Community resilience for wildfires: research on impacts and recovery

  • Wildfires are causing increased destruction within our communities to our infrastructure and homes. There is a large gap in knowledge on how to design, build, and maintain more resilient communities, while balancing the demands of the present with the climate and infrastructure demands of the future. Population growth and urbanization has caused expansion into regions that are susceptible to wildfires, increasingly creating suburban communities. Previous wildfires throughout the US have shown to damage portions of the water distribution system. This damage can cause the presence of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) within the water distribution system resulting in onerous testing programs for the impacted regions, delaying business reopening, and creating additional hurdles for housing recovery. In many impacted regions, water districts have completely replaces all of the service laterals throughout the municipality, which can cost millions of dollars. Housing impacts have increased as well, across socio-economic statuses. The 2021 Marshall Fire impacted a suburban community of Boulder, Colorado, and recently the fires in Southern California impacted $4 - $10 million homes. However, researchers are still investigating the characteristics of homes that most influence damage or destruction in a wildfire. The widespread damage to homes and water infrastructure can create decision making difficult in the response and recovery phases of the fire.

    This session will include presentations on state-of-the-art research occurring on wildfire damage to different aspects of communities in addition to how communities are approaching the recovery from these wildfires. The audience will learn about wildfire impacts to varying infrastructure within the communities and ongoing research on how communities can mitigate such damage. In addition, the audience will learn about the secondary effects of these damages and the way that local governments can navigate the recovery process, tradeoffs within the decision making process, and lessons learned from previous wildfires.

    Speaker List:
    Erica Fischer, Oregon State University
    Noah Gershon, University of Colorado Boulder
    Eliza Amstutz, Oregon State University
    Amy Metz, Oregon State University
    Jenna Tilt, Oregon State University

  • Embedding Equity & Resilience into Wildfire Planning and Programs

  • Climate change is resulting in larger wildfires and longer fire seasons in California. According to the state’s Fourth Climate Change Assessment, the average area burned could increase 77% by 2100 if greenhouse gas emissions continue to rise. While many communities are impacted, not all have the same capacity to plan for, adapt to, and recover from wildfire events. During the conference, presenters will draw upon their collective expertise to share key takeaways about how communities can embed equity and resilience into their wildfire planning and programs.
    NOTE: Session Name changed on 1/19 from "Translating Science into Policy: Planning for Wildfire Resilience in California" to "Embedding Equity & Resilience into Wildfire Planning and Programs"

    Session Speaker List:
    Clay Kerchof, CA Department of Housing & Community Development (HDC)
    Nikki Caravelli, CA Office of Planning and Research (OPR) 
    Beth Hotchkiss, CA Office of Planning and Research (OPR) 

  • FEMA Hazard Mitigation Assistance Programs & Opportunities

  • The FEMA Hazard Mitigation Assistance (HMA) Division provides funding and eligible mitigation measures that reduce disaster losses. The HMA Division includes more than 200 dedicated staff across the country who work closely with federal partners and support states, local communities, tribes, and territories to reduce nationwide vulnerability to disasters and natural hazards.

    In this session, FEMA will discuss the different pre- and post- disaster grant programs available through HMA. Attendees will learn how each program can be used by communities to increase resilience to disaster risks with specific emphasis on wildfire and windstorm disaster mitigation. In addition to funding opportunities, FEMA will discuss how the grant programs reduce community vulnerability, promote individual and community safety, and create safer communities. The session will discuss policy related issues including the Disaster Recovery Reform Act (DRRA) and the Wildland Urban Interface (WUI). Attendees will also hear about the importance of building codes and standards relevant to increasing resilience from wildfires and windstorms.

    Session Organizer: Andrea Becker, Resilience Action Partners
    Session Moderator: Faith Berry, FEMA (substituted for Kate Dargan, Intterra)
    Speaker: Kate Lipiecki, Mitigation Division Director for FEMA Region 9

  • Lessons Learned from Existing Communities - Rebuilding & Recovery

  • Moderated by: Dr. Carlos Martin, Harvard University
    Speaker List:
    Yana Valachovic, University of California Cooperative Extension
    Kasra Shamsaei, University of Nevada, Reno (CANCELLED)
    Rich Snyder, Allied Disaster Defense

  • Wildfire Risk Engineering and Resilience: Analytical, Experimental, and Data-Driven Methods

This session will collect research presentations focused on the broad topic of wildfire risk engineering and resilience. Topics of interest include wildland and urban fire simulation, historical fire observation, experimental research on fire spread mechanism, land and fuel model, fire weather and climate simulations, ignition models, hazard and exposure analysis, impact and loss analysis across social, health, ecosystem, and built environment, risk assessment, and resilience building pathways for disaster mitigation, response, and recovery. Conceptual, analytical, data-driven, as well as experimental research works are invited to contribute.

The severity and frequency of wildfires in the western US have been increasing over the past decade. Preparing for wildfire events and establishing effective mitigation and response strategies require an understanding of the underlying factors that cause intense and destructive wildfires. It has been shown that short- and long-term weather patterns, topography, land cover, and anthropogenic variables such as human-caused ignitions and suppression activities are among the factors that could affect the behavior and intensity of wildfires. Also, the layout of buildings, construction characteristics, and fire breaks within urban areas influence the wildfire risk. This session aims to bring together researchers and practitioners to discuss recent developments and future directions towards wildfire resilience.

Session Moderator: Marilia Ramos, University of California, Los Angeles
Full Speaker List:
Mike McCormick, Product Manager, Weather Risk, CAPE Analytics
William Siembieda, Research Professor, Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo
Marilia Ramos, Ph.D., Research Scientist, University of California Los Angeles
Riyaaz Shaik, Post-Doctoral Researcher, University of California, Los Angeles
Matthew Malecha, Instructional Assistant Professor, Texas A&M University

  • Wildfire Policy Decisions - Panel Discussion Plus a Bonus Presentation on Parcel Level Fire Exposures

  • Wildfire Policy decisions Previously was titled " The Current State of Oregon’s 2021 Omnibus Wildfire Bill (Senate Bill 762)". This session will kick off with a presentation from NIST's Alex Maranghides. Alex will be presenting on Hazard-Mitigation Methodology and Parcel level fire exposures. This panel discussion, which will take place after Alex's presentation, will highlight how policy leads to improvements in Building Codes.

    Session Panelists:
    Bob Horton, Oregon Governor’s Fire Policy Council
    Bob Roper, Western Fire Chiefs Association
    Alex Maranghides, NIST

  • Alternative housing for WUI application (CANCELLED SESSION)

  • This session did not take place as originally planned.

  • How British Columbia is ‘moving the sticks’ in wildfire resiliency structures

  • Over the last five years British Columbia has made great strides in resilient communities. Through the FireSmart program, structure protection and research in the area, the province in leading the country in adapting the built environment to withstand worsening wildfire seasons. The panel of experts will discuss the programs being utilized, challenges and successes in this space.

    Session Moderator: Kelly Johnston, Community Wildfire Planning Center 
    Kelsey Winter, FireSmart BC / BC FireSmart Committee Chair
    Ron French, BC Wildfire Service / Structure Protection
    Joel Hamilton, Fire Chiefs Association of BC / Home Partners Program
    Lou Wilde, BC Wildfire Service Senior Structure Protection Specialist

  • Building Fire Research & the Fire Service: Addressing WUI Fire Risks

  • In 1973 the National Commission on Fire Prevention and Control published America Burning which was the catalyst for research and policy for building fire safety. A notable outcome from the report was the inclusion of fire safety design of buildings by architects and engineers. Decades of research have significantly increased our understanding of compartment fire dynamics, structural response to fire, and firefighter tactics & safety. This knowledge on fire safety provides the foundation, along with understanding of wildland fire, to address the WUI fire risk problems inherent to the built environment to support resilient and equitable communities. This session will provide some history of fire research, the role of emergency responders (firefighters) in resiliency, and a look ahead at how connecting these worlds in critical for addressing these problems.

    Session Organizer: Daniel Gorham, UL Fire Safety Research Institute (FSRI)
    Panelists: Gavin Horn, UL Fire Safety Research Institute (FSRI)
    Derek Alkonis, UL Fire Safety Research Institute (FSRI)
    Daniel Gorham, UL Fire Safety Research Institute (FSRI)

  • Wildfire Risk Assessment and Prevention for Utilities & Infrastructure

  • The interaction between aboveground electrical infrastructure, the built and natural environment and the places in between, the Wildland Urban Interface, is complex and controversial.  There is agreement that solutions are desperately needed.  This session will discuss cutting-edge microgrid approaches that eliminate the need for extensive electrical grids.  On the flip side, there are needs for interim solutions and areas where microgrids will not work, plus the shift to electrification will likely require continued centralized generation and transmission and distribution systems.  A portion of the session will explore how the application of fire science is reducing fire risk from these existing electrical systems. 
    Moderated by: Christina Terzich, SDG&E Environmental Regulatory and Technology Lead
    Full Speaker List:
    Miriam Aczel, CIEE/CITRIS, UC Berkeley
    Grady Mathai-Jackson, Pacific Gas and Electric Company
    Seth Portner, All Risk Shield
    Richard Veihl, San Diego Gas & Electric

  • Wildfire exposure, vulnerability factors, and defensible space development

  • Moderated by: Steve Quarles, UC Cooperative Extension
    Full Speaker List:

    Ahmad Abo El Ezz, École de technologie supérieure
    Hussam Mahmoud, Colorado State University
    Joseph Willi, UL Fire Safety Research Institute
    Michele Barbato, University of California, Davis
    Yana Valachovic, University of California Cooperative Extension
    Faraz Hedayati, Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety
    Kasra Shamsaei, University of Nevada, Reno (CANCELED)

    Part 1 Speakers: Faraz Hedayati; Hussam Mahmoud; Jospeh Willi; Michele Barbato

    Part 2 Speakers: Ahmad Abo El Ezz; Kasra Shamsaei; Yana Valachovic

  • Insurance & Wildfire Mitigation

  • Moderated by: Robert Lee, Milliman
    Full Speaker List:
    OP Almaraz, Allied Disaster Defense
    Valerie Brown, United Policyholders
    Ivan O'Neill, Madronus Wildfire Defense
    Greg Anderson, CAL FIRE Office of the State Fire Marshal

  • Building Community Resilience to Wildfires

  • Description coming soon
    Moderated by:
    Dr. Carlos Martin, Harvard University
    Full Speaker List:
    Deborah Glaser, The Nature Conservancy
    Marco Mack, Retired-Central Fire District of Santa Cruz Co
    Harry Statter, Frontline Wildfire Defense
    Scott Farley, Willow Labs

  • CAL FIRE – Office of the State Fire Marshal’s Community Wildfire Preparedness and Mitigation Division: Program Overview, Home Hardening, and Wildfire Prevention Grants

  • Today's wildfire environment has changed, allowing for longer fire seasons with more intense and destructive wildfires. Climate change, land use, fire suppression, population growth, and other factors have contributed to putting millions of homes and hundreds of communities at extreme risk of wildfire. During the “CAL FIRE – Office of the State Fire Marshal’s Community Wildfire Preparedness and Mitigation Division: Program Overview, Home Hardening, and Wildfire Prevention Grants” presentation, we will present a Community Wildfire Preparedness and Mitigation Division program overview, share information on Home Hardening, and detailed information on Wildfire Prevention Grants will be discussed. Fire, building, and enforcement professionals interested in gaining knowledge on identifying your community’s wildfire hazards, risks, and mitigation strategies are encouraged to attend.
    Speaker List:
    Frank Bigelow, CAL FIRE
    Natalie Burke, CAL FIRE
    Matt Damon, CAL FIRE
    Jim McDougald, CAL FIRE
    Dennis O'Neil, CAL FIRE
    Sina Tate, CAL FIRE

  • NSF Funding Opportunities for Wildland Fire Science and Engineering
  • This session will discuss funding opportunities at the National Science Foundation (NSF) to support fundamental research on wildland fire science, including impacts on the natural and built environment and societal dimensions.  Wildland fire science and engineering funding opportunities range across NSF from core research programs to programs that can support larger collaborations among researchers, scientists, engineers, educators, and practitioners from academia, industry, government (e.g., Tribal, federal, state, local), and/or nonprofit organizations. This session will also discuss the NSF 22-122,  Dear Colleague Letter: Planning Proposals to Catalyze Innovative and Inclusive Wildland Fire Science through Diverse Collaborations.

    Speaker List:
     Daan Liang, Directorate for Engineering, Division of Civil, Mechanical and Manufacturing Innovation

    Kendra McLauchlan, Directorate for Biological Sciences,  Division of Environmental Biology
    Joy Pauschke, Directorate for Engineering, Division of Civil, Mechanical and Manufacturing Innovation 

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