Webinar - Rethinking Risk - Some insights from Wildfires in Canada

Jen Beverly
Resource Date:

The 2023 wildfire season in Canada is now the worst ever recorded, with over fifteen million hectares burned. In the last 65 years, only four other fire seasons in Canada have produced burned areas greater than five million hectares with median annual burned area during this period just 1.7 million hectares. The unprecedented level of fire activity in 2023 has precipitated mass evacuations across the country, extensive structure losses, and multiple firefighter fatalities. It also quickly overwhelmed fire response resources, leading to imports of thousands of international firefighting personnel. The 2023 fire season, along with other observations of wildfires in Canada, are telling us something important about fire risk and the way we analyze it, but are we listening? In this presentation, we will delve into the evolution of some widely used fire risk assessment methods and ask: “Are they working?” and “What are the alternatives?”. Through this process, several logical fallacies and decision traps will be highlighted as well as opportunities for rethinking how we conceptualize risk.