Regional Leaders

Perspectives from local leaders

Picture of Thom Porter

"While fighting wildfires is inherently dangerous, the construction of more homes in more remote locations makes it even more challenging and costly to protect lives and prevent property loss while safeguarding our firefighters. As wildfire conditions worsen in coming decades, we need to better integrate fire risk assessment into our land use planning decisions along and near the wildland-urban interface."

Thom Porter
Assistant Region Chief (formerly San Diego Unit Chief), CAL FIRE Southern Region

Answering the call: opportunities for regional leaders

  • Maintain up to 100 feet of defensible space near homes and other structures.1
  • Encourage and adopt fire-resistant building design, materials and landscaping.
  • Direct new development and redevelopment toward existing urban areas in order to avoid developing more homes and businesses in outlying, fire-prone areas.
  • Encourage coordinated and centralized regional firefighting information that stays up-to-date on wildfire risks worsened by climate change, with special attention to how and where fires start.
  • Ensure that firefighting resources are commensurate with the elevated risk the region will face.

Picture of Cedar Fire

The term "wildfire" has become a misnomer. Large wildfires frequently threaten homes, businesses and lives, shifting the focus to structure defense. Simultaneously, a new paradigm is emerging: We are witnessing a dramatic shift in the frequency and intensity of wildfires due to a variety of factors, most of which are human-caused2. As our population grows, decisions on developing and managing the wildland-urban interface will determine our vulnerability and the risks imposed on our firefighters.


2. Over 68% of wildfires are found to be ignited by human activities. Data from California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection. 2012 Wildfire Activity Statistics: Graphic Figure 1. Percent of Fires by Cause. Available at: <>