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With an estimated 4.5 million properties at high or extreme risk of wildfire in the U.S. it has never been more important for policymakers, businesses, and individuals to take steps that will enhance the resilience of their property. This will increase their capacity to withstand, respond to, and quickly recover from natural disasters. In response to growing wildfire risk, the federal Wildland Fire Mitigation and Management Commission recently released its final report, “On Fire: The Report of the Wildland Fire Mitigation and Management Commission.” The Commission was established at the direction of Congress as part of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act and members were appointed by the Biden-Harris Administration.

As noted in the Commission’s report, substantial change in the federal government’s approach to reduce the risk of catastrophic wildfires and address impacts is crucial. But society also has a role in this effort. To shift the trajectory of the wildfire crisis, the status quo cannot continue. Significant changes must be made to better prepare communities from wildfire. The final report published by the Commission, identifies critical actions needed - in both the built and natural environments - to stem property loss and environmental impacts, and to safeguard public health and the safety and effectiveness of wildfire response, providing a roadmap for moving in the right direction.

In this interview, two experts who were highly engaged in the Commission’s work outline key issues to strengthen our nation's posture regarding wildfire and help home and business owners become more resilient. David A. Sampson, president, and CEO of the American Property Casualty Insurance Association (APCIA) a member of the Commission, and who serves in the Property Development Industry seat, and Wildland Commission member, Kimiko Barrett, wildfire research and policy analyst at Headwaters Economics discuss mitigating property damage and the wide range of themes and recommendations developed by the Commission.

To learn more about the commission and wildfire preparedness visit:

MORE ABOUT David A. Sampson:
David A. Sampson is the president and CEO of the American Property Casualty Insurance Association (APCIA). He has been in this role since 2007. Sampson has led the industry through some of the most consequential insurance issues of the last decade, including the COVID-19 response, preserving state statutory accounting during once-in-a-generation tax reform, and ensuring that the Dodd-Frank Act recognized the strong consumer protections already provided by state insurance regulators and the guaranty fund system. Sampson also is the president of the Independent Statistical Service, Inc. (ISS), a wholly owned subsidiary of APCIA and one of the industry's largest and most trusted statistical agents. He serves on the Board of Directors of the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety as well as on the Biden-Harris Administration's Wildland Fire Mitigation and Management Commission. Before joining the industry, Sampson served in the George W. Bush Administration in two presidential-appointed and Senate-confirmed positions. From 2005 to 2007, he served as the Deputy Secretary of the U.S. Department of Commerce and was a member of President Bush's Management Council.

A native Montanan, Dr. Kimiko Barrett (Kimi) has a deep interest in rural landscapes and the people who live there.  She has a natural aptitude for connecting and energizing people in the pursuit of community resilience and climate adaptation. Kimi is a committed agent of change in how we live with inevitable wildfires. Drawing on the expertise within the broad networks she has built, she has led research of national significance on topical issues such as the true cost of wildfires, the cost of building wildfire-resistant homes, and measuring wildfire impacts through structure loss. Her work has changed the national wildfire narrative and shaped new strategies for engaging communities on wildfire resilience. Kimi managed Headwaters Economics’ Community Planning Assistance for Wildfire program for six years. In that capacity she worked with firefighters, land use and planning staff, government agency personnel, and elected officials in more than 80 communities across the country, helping them devise community-driven solutions to reduce wildfire risk and increase community adaptation efforts. Kimi's experience with local-level efforts ensures that her research and policy work addresses real problems on the ground. Uniquely positioned in the nexus of communities, science, and natural hazards, Kimi is regularly quoted by major media outlets. She is frequently interviewed by the New York Times, LA Times, Bloomberg, and Washington Post, National Public Radio, The Economist, the Associated Press, and Marketplace. And because of Kimi’s outstanding ability to engage diverse audiences, she is a sought-after speaker, regularly presenting at professional trainings, university seminars, community workshops, conferences, and congressional hearings.

Produced for: American Property Casualty Insurance Association (APCIA)