Congressional Hazards Caucus Alliance Homepage


National Fire Protection Association, the American Geophysical Union, and the Hazards Caucus Alliance invite you to attend a public briefing on

Climate Change and the Science of Safeguarding our Communities from Wildfires

Monday, July 6, 2009
2103 Rayburn House Office Buidling
10:30AM – 12:00PM

In cooperation with the Congressional Hazards Caucus - Co-chairs: Senators Mary Landrieu, Lisa Murkowski, and Ben Nelson, and Representatives Dennis Moore, Jo Bonner, and Zoe Lofgren


The panel will explore the science and societal impacts of increasing wildfire frequency and intensity, the latest approaches to wildfire modeling and mitigation.

Tom Harbour, Director of Fire Aviation and Forest Management, U.S. Department of Agriculture

Roger Pulwarty, Climate Scientist and Director, National Integrated Drought Information System, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

Susan Cutter, Carolina Distinguished Professor of Geography and Director of theHazards and Vulnerability Research Institute University of South Carolina

Samuel Manzello, Mechanical Engineer, Fire Research Division of the Building and Fire Research Laboratory, National Institute of Standards and Technology

Michele Steinberg, Senior Fire Service Specialist - Firewise Communities, National Fire Protection Association (NFPA)

Wildland fires are a natural process. Fire has helped shape our wildlands for thousands of years, and it is important for the survival of many plants and animals. However, society’s influence has altered historic fire cycles, leading to a dangerous build-up of vegetation in our wildlands. When paired with the right terrain and weather conditions, dense build-up of vegetation leads to fires that burn hotter, last longer, and spread faster, potentially threatening areas of residential development. The wildland/urban interface is a set of conditions under which a wildland fire reaches beyond natural fuels (such as trees and brush), to homes and their immediate surroundings. According to the USDA Forest Service, there are 22,000 “at risk” communities located in the wildland/urban interface throughout the U.S. Over 130 Million people live in these communities in an estimated 40 million homes.

Speaker Biographies

Susan Cutter, Carolina Distinguished Professor of Geography and Director of the Hazards and Vulnerability Research Institute University of South Carolina. Dr. Susan Cutter's primary research interests are what makes people and the places where they live vulnerable to extreme events and how this vulnerability is measured, monitored, and assessed.  She has authored or edited twelve books, more than 100 peer-reviewed articles and book chapters. Dr. Cutter leads post-event field studies of the role of geographic GIS in rescue and relief operations and of evacuation behavior. After Hurricane Katrina she led a team to examine the relationship of the storm surge to social vulnerability along the coastlines. She has provided expert testimony to Congress and was a member of the US Army Corps of Engineers IPET team in response to Hurricane Katrina. Dr. Cutter serves on the advisory boards and committees of National Research Council, the AAAS, the National Science Foundation, the Natural Hazards Center, and the H. John Heinz III Center for Science, Economics, and the Environment.  She is an elected as a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), is past President of the Association of American Geographers and past President of the Consortium of Social Science Associations (COSSA). She is the current Vice-Chair of the AGU Focus Group on Natural Hazards.

Michele Steinberg, Senior Fire Service Specialist - Firewise Communities, National Fire Protection Association (NFPA). Michele Steinberg is the Communities Support Manager for the national Firewise Communities® program. This national program seeks to minimize loss of life and property from wildfires by helping individuals and communities take action to reduce risk. Michele’s duties involve developing resource networks for communities, as well as research, writing and presentations. She also serves as staff liaison for the NFPA Technical Committee on Forest & Rural Fire Protection, which is responsible for standards concerning wildfire safety for life and property

Samuel Manzello, Mechanical Engineer in the Fire Research Division of the Building and Fire Research Laboratory, National Institute of Standards and Technology. Dr. Samuel L. Manzello joined the NIST Fire Research Division in January 2001. Manzello’s research is currently focused on understanding the ignition of structures due to firebrand attack in wildland-urban interface (WUI) fires and investigating the response/failure of structural elements under real fire exposures in order to collect data necessary to guide and validate computational models to predict failure.  Both of these research projects are bring conducted with Manzello’s extensive collaborators in Japan. Manzello has authored 103 publications (40 archival journal publications and 63 conference publications and reports) in combustion and fire science. In addition to this, Manzello’s research was the subject of a special feature article in the journal Nature.  He serves as a reviewer for 18 archival publications in fire science, combustion, heat transfer, and fluid mechanics. He has held fellowships at NASA, National Research Council (NRC), Japan Society for the Promotion Science (JSPS).

The Hazards Caucus Alliance, an informal network of organizations concerned about reducing the risk of hazards, invites your participation in this public briefing and in future Caucus events. For more information about the Caucus, the Alliance or future events, please contact Maeve Boland 703-379-2480 ext. 228;

Contributed by Corina Cerovski-Darriau, Government Affairs Staff.

Posted June 26, 2009; Updated July 29, 2009.

Please send any comments or questions about this web site to Maeve Boland.