Mission & Philosophy
Firefighters United for Safety, Ethics, and Ecology (FUSEE) promotes safe, ethical, and ecological wildland fire management. We strive to inform and empower fire management workers and their citizen supporters to become torchbearers for a new paradigm in fire management.
End the “War” on Wildfire; Inspire Ecological Fire Management
FUSEE advocates an end to making “warfare” on wildfire. The past century’s well-meaning but misguided notion of “fighting” forest fires is obsolete: we are not really fighting flames–we are fighting forests, and the collateral damage on soils, streams, vegetation, and wildlife habitat in America’s public wildlands is having a devastating toll. At the same time, taxpayers are spending billions of dollars on emergency fire suppression, with much of that money spent on futile, environmentally-destructive and ecologically counterproductive actions that put firefighters at unnecessary extra risk.
Instead of reactively fighting against fire, we support proactively working with fire to protect rural communities, restore fire-adapted ecosystems, and preserve fire-dependent species. By wisely using fire in a philosophy of Ecological Fire Management, we can maximize the social and ecological benefits of fire while mitigating firefighter risks, minimizing taxpayers costs, and avoiding unnecessary suppression impacts on natural resources and native ecosystems.
Inspired by the great Aldo Leopold’s “Land Ethic,” FUSEE promotes a new Fire Ethic in fire management policies and practices: “A thing is right when it contributes to the safety of firefighters and the public, ethical public service and use of taxpayer dollars, environmental protection of fire-affected landscapes, and ecological restoration of fire-dependent ecosystems. It is wrong when it tends otherwise.” Safe, ethical, ecological fire management is achievable when we stop the endless, escalating, but inevitably unwinnable war against Nature’s fire and relearn to safely work and sustainably live with wildland fire.
The FUSEE Triad; Safety-Ethics-Ecology
FUSEE promotes a holistic view of fire management in the belief that firefighter and public safety is ultimately interdependent with ethical public service and ecological restoration of fire-prone landscapes. This view is symbolized in the FUSEE Triad of Safety, Ethics, and Ecology:
FUSEE links firefighter safety with community safety and concepts of land safety. We challenge environmentally-damaging forest management projects that appear under numerous guises such as “wildfire prevention,” “hazardous fuels reduction,” or “forest health restoration,” but instead, degrade the environment in ways that are undermine authentic land stewardship goals and may actually increase the safety risks and health hazards for firefighters. For example, commercial thinning and post-fire salvage logging projects that remove large trees while leaving behind flammable slash and degraded soils, streams, and wildlife habitat. We understand that absolute fire exclusion is impossible and even undesirable from the standpoint of fire ecology, and thus work to educate rural property owners how to prepare for wildfire to better protect their homes and properties from wildfire while reducing the safety risks to firefighters. Ultimately, firefighter safety cannot be enhanced at the expense of the land, ecological integrity, and future generations of all species.
FUSEE promotes a new ethos for wildland firefighters that upholds the highest ethical standards for professional conduct and public service. We critique the growing profit-driven privatization of fire and fuels management, and expose systemic causes of waste, fraud, and abuse of taxpayer dollars and resources resources. For example, large expenditures of taxpayer dollars in no-bid contracts for “heavy metal” suppression resources (e.g. large airtankers, bulldozers, engines) that are routinely used in times, places, and conditions where they are ineffective or inefficient, but also exhaust fire management budgets and come at the expense of “boots on the ground” fire crews that offer more flexibility in managing wildfires for both protection and restoration objectives.
FUSEE advocates for ecological fire restoration as the best strategy for improving the safety and working conditions of wildland firefighters. We understand that wildland fire is a vital ecosystem process that sustains native biodiversity, essential ecosystem services, valuable natural resources, and landscape beauty. We challenge conventional notions of wildfire prevention and suppression whose goals attempt to impose fire exclusion on fire-adapted ecosystems in ways that adversely impact fire-dependent species. We strive for a paradigm shift in society’s relationship with wildland fire, ending the misnamed “war” on wildfire–symbolized by the concept of “fighting” fire–that is socially, economically, and ecologically unsustainable. We advocate a holistic vision of actively managing wildfire with the best available fire ecology science and advanced technology in ways that maximize the social and ecological benefits of burning while mitigating risks to firefighters, and minimizing adverse impacts to communities and social assets that are vulnerable to fire damage.
Like the noted Fire Combustion Triangle, the FUSEE Triad of safety-ethics-ecology breaks down when any link is taken away. Thus, for example, firefighter safety can be compromised by unethical wasteful use of taxpayer resources, such as suppression actions that will be knowingly futile in extreme weather or fuel conditions, or dubious “wildfire prevention” logging projects that increase hazardous fuel loads while degrading soils, streams, and wildlife habitat. Unethical and anti-ecological fire or fuels management policies, programs, or practices compromise the health and safety of firefighters and the citizens they serve. Maintaining the integrity of the FUSEE Triad is the best means for enabling people to safely work and sustainably live with wildland fire.