2 quarter

When fire worlds collide

By Laura King, managing editor of Wildfire Magazine

Photo of Laura King, Wildfire magazine managing editor
Laura King, Managing editor, Wildfire Magazine

A few months back, I came across a Twitter post by my friend, colleague and IAWF board member Michele Steinberg, about the managing editor’s position with Wildfire Magazine.

I was intrigued, and excited. 

For more than I decade I had edited Canada’s premier fire publications, Fire Fighting in Canada and Canadian Firefighter magazines, and I was missing the editorial world of rewrites, deadlines and mad scrambles to find high-resolution photos to go with stories. (Yes, really!)

In the last few years, as the public-education representative for the National Fire Protection Association in Canada, I’ve broadened my work in wildland fire, chairing FireSmart Canada’s Wildfire Community Preparedness Day campaign, and, separately, as FireSmart’s national communications advisor.

Putting my hat in the ring for the managing editor’s position seemed logical, and, wonderfully, the IAWF executive agreed!

Thanks to the strength of the IAWF communications team, and best practices developed by former editor Ron Steffens, assuming the managing editor role has been (almost) seamless, but also challenging as I navigate global time zones, publishing schedules and an array of new acronyms!

The focus of this Q2 issue was to be the 16th International Wildland Fire Safety Summit and 6th Human Dimensions of Wildland Fire Conference May 24-27. We’re pleased to bring you conference highlights on pages 7 through 19, but given what I’m learning about global postal systems and delivery lags, we’ve ensured that this edition is also full of fabulous feature stories that are relevant no matter when your issue arrives in the mail.

We’re also shaking things up a bit by anchoring our back page with the popular Thoughts on Leadership column, adding a news section, and tapping our associate editors around the globe for more content. (By the way, we’re seeking associate editors, so if you have a hankering to put pen to paper, drop me a note at [email protected]).

Our objective in upcoming issues is to provide stories, opinion pieces and information about the topics identified in the recent IAWF member survey: climate; decision making and policy; firefighter health and safety; human dimensions; public education; training; and science.

To that end, our cover story – Outthinking Wildfire, which happens to be written by the aforementioned Michele Steinberg (you see how the worlds collide!), explains a ground breaking, thought-provoking and status-quo challenging policy initiative meant to rattle conventional thinking about who is responsible for reducing the carnage caused by wildfire. The story is U.S.-focused, but the principle – that organizations and people need to shape the agendas of policy makers – applies globally and, I’m confident, will be adopted or mimicked in other jurisdictions as Outthink Wildfire™ plays out across America.

Lastly, a word to IAWF members and readers: a magazine is only as good as its audience. And to meet your desires for data, assuage your curiosity, and fill your cups with relevant and inspiring stories, we need – and value – your input and feedback. Tell us what you like, what you read, what you don’t (nicely, though!), what we’re missing, and what we can do better. 

Here in Canada, as I write this in April, we’re entering a second COVID-affected wildfire season. My lens this year will be broader, as I focus on the people in the thick of things, and their stories, everywhere.

The wildfire world is cohesive, the challenges are similar no matter where you are, the people are passionate, and the need for timely, accurate information to be safe, efficient, and effective is global. I’m delighted to help.