Best Practices for Utility Wildfire Mitigation Planning

Live Streaming Online December 7-8, 2022

An EUCI Program

Click Here to register $1195

If you are unable to attend at the scheduled date and time, we make recordings available to all registrants for three business days after the event

The threat of wildfires causing significant social, economic, and environmental damage is increasing as wildfire seasons are growing longer and average wildfire sizes are increasing.  The risk is driven by a combination of climate change, fire management and suppression, wildland-urban interface population, utility infrastructure, and extreme weather events. Legislation in California has established, among other things, requirements for utilities to submit Wildfire Mitigation Plans (WMPs) to improve utility wildfire safety by focusing on their initiatives aimed at mitigating ignition risk from their own infrastructure.

Developing effective WMPs requires effective collaboration that engages stakeholders in decision-making, as well as taking into account differences in wildfire threat in various communities, focusing on long-term resilience, and using data effectively to understand and plan for risk. EUCI’s Best Practices for Utility Wildfire Mitigation Planning course will address priorities in developing WMPs as well as the processes, tools, and capabilities necessary to support utility mitigation efforts in the long term, to better serve the needs of local communities.

Register now for this virtual opportunity that puts a spotlight on the steps required to build a fire safe culture that prioritizes long-term, systematic risk reduction for utilities and the communities that they serve.

Learning Outcomes

  • Recognize the common components of WMPs
  • Review best practices on how to prepare wildfire mitigation plans
  • Discuss how to tailor WMPs to address specific services areas and risks
  • Discuss the importance of communication between stakeholders in developing WMPs
  • Assess trends in vegetation mitigation strategies
  • Examine regulatory considerations by state
  • Review wildfire mitigation methodologies
  • Examine the variety engineering strategies in mitigation efforts
  • Assess the value of data in developing mitigation strategies
  • Identify key concerns in power safety shutoff policies
  • Develop an understanding of the importance of situational awareness in creating a WMP



9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. Pacific Time


9:00 – 9:30 a.m. :: Introduction

  • Overview and Objectives

9:30 – 10:45 a.m. :: Sample Utility Wildfire Mitigation Plans

The session will cover notable sample sections and content from various WMPs from California and other states. There are various approaches to WMP creation: internal, consultant, template. Session will discuss merits of each. Suggested content:

  • Sample notable sections
  • Approaches to WMP creation:
    • Written internally
    • Written by consultant
    • Use of WMP templates
  • “Must have” section discussion

10:45 – 11:00 a.m. :: Morning Break

11:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. :: Risk/Hazard Assessment

As part of the wildfire mitigation planning process, utilities stakeholders need to assess wildland fire risk throughout a service area to develop unique, effective prevention strategies and protocols, and have begun to adopt data-driven decision-making practices, including establishing collaborations to increase data capabilities. While analytical tools hold promise for improving mitigation efforts, there are also underlying weaknesses in data-reliant assessments that need to be addressed to fully realize that promise.

  • Methodologies
  • Modeling
  • Data assessment
    • Data Sources
    • Data Considerations
  • Caution/Pitfalls

12:00 – 12:45 p.m. :: Lunch Break

12:45 – 1:45 p.m. :: Situational Awareness

Situational awareness (SA) can vary depending on stakeholder perspective. SA involves perceiving environmental events, understanding their meaning, and projecting future trends and potential impacts. Situational awareness, which can vary depending on stakeholder perspective, comes into play during all stages of the wildfire event lifecycle: preparedness, detection, initial response, suppression, mop-up, and reclamation. This session will examine the role of SA in wildfire response planning.

  • California’s Investor-Owned Utilities’ Strategies
  • Fire Potential Index (FPI)
    • Public Information
  • Red Flag
  • Large Fire Potential
  • Defensibility
  • Agency Use

1:45 – 2:00 p.m. :: Early Afternoon Break

2:00 – 3:30 p.m. :: Mitigations

Wildfire prevention practices and engineering programs reduce or eliminate fire hazards and risks, changing the environment by removing or reducing heat sources, modifying fuels to create a defensible space, and reducing the likelihood of a heat source coming in contact with ignitable fuels. This session will examine how these mitigation strategies can be incorporated into WMPs.

  • Best Field Practices
  • Response to Escalating Fire Weather Conditions
    • Best System Operations
    • Engineering Solutions
  • Planning
  • Design
  • Sectionalizing

3:30 – 3:45 p.m. :: Afternoon Break

3:45 – 5:00 p.m. :: Vegetation Management & Monitoring WMP Performance

Sustainable utility vegetation management (UVM) programs are typically focused on programmatically managing risk related to public and employee safety, electric service reliability, regulatory compliance and cost while looking ahead to assess other risks such as wildfire ignition and asset protection. This session will examine vegetation management best practices and current wildfire trends across North America including metrics and data that can be used to inform the effectiveness of a utility’s WMP and its fire prevention strategies.

  • Wildfire and UVM trends
  • UVM best management practices
  • Monitoring wildfire mitigation performance
    • Options for metrics and data (outages, ignitions, etc.)
    • How can data be reported, collected, analyzed, used
    • Continuous improvement

Ryan A. Brockbank, Principal, Utility ROW Services, EDM International


9:00 a.m. – 1:15 p.m. Pacific Time

9:00 – 10:15 a.m. :: Utilization of Remotely Sensed Data for Wildfire Mitigation

Utilities have an ever-growing list of advanced and partially automated technologies and solutions to effectively manage both “traditional” risks as well as emerging and increasing threats, such as wildfire.  Best-in-class programs have met these challenges by being adaptive, innovative, and creative in combining various tools to solve specific problems as well as holistic wildfire challenges faced by asset management, vegetation management, operations, and other utility departments, as well as external stakeholders.

  1. Use of remotely sensed data (LiDAR, satellite, infrared, etc.)
  2. Working across utility departmental “silos”

James S. Downie, Principal, Utility Services, EDM International

10:15 – 10:30 a.m. :: Morning Break

10:30 – 11:45 a.m. :: Fire Response/Ignition Management

As pressure increases on utilities to perform infrastructure hardening such as burying and insulating lines and using non-wood poles and reconfigured insulators, questions arise about cost and effectiveness of various proposed approaches. This session offers a look at how a utility can benefit from collecting and analyzing ignition data related to fires and near misses from its electric facilities to better focus its infrastructure initiatives.

11:45 – 12:00 p.m. :: Morning Break

12:00 – 1:15 p.m. :: Public Safety Power Shutoff

Investor-owned utilities have the authority to shut off the electric power to protect public safety. Utilities do this during severe wildfire threat condition as a preventative measure of last resort through public safety power shutoffs. What factors need to be taken into consideration when adding PSPS procedures to a utility wildfire mitigation plan?

  • Timeline
  • Considerations
  • Precautions
  • Communication Before, During, and After

1:15 p.m. :: Program Adjourns


Randy Lyle, Wildfire Mitigation Strategies

Mr. Lyle has over 45 years of fire and fire related experience. His career has spanned the decades where GIS and advances in technology allowed the science of pre-fire engineering to rapidly evolve. Randy worked for the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection and was among the first to employ those tools in the emergency and non-emergency environments. He retired in 2007 as a CalFIRE Division Chief in San Diego where his firefighting career began in 1975. During this time period, he also served in aerial firefighting, engine company, and hand crew assignments. The operational apex of his firefighting career was his assignment as Unified Incident Commander on the historic 2003 Cedar fire in San Diego, CA.

Randy transitioned from his wildfire fighting career to San Diego Gas and Electric (SDG&E) as a Contract Administrator in the Vegetation Management Department. Three weeks after he was hired, he was called on to be part of the investigation and subsequent litigation support team for the catastrophic Witch, Rice and Guejito Fires of 2007. These fires prompted several California Public Utility Commission actions including direction to utilities to produce a map identifying high risk areas. Mr. Lyle was instrumental in helping guide this statewide High Fire Threat District (HFTD) mapping effort which resulted in a 2018 CPUC Decision adopting regulations to enhance fire safety in the HFTD and highlighted his leadership abilities.

Randy had been involved with the SDG&E fire program soon after its inception and served as the Fire Science and Coordination Manager before leaving SDG&E.  His team of five Fire Coordinators flew UAS, trained internally on fire safety and externally on electric safety for first responders, provided guidance on fuel treatment projects and prepared project specific fire prevention plans.

Since establishing his own consulting firm, Wildfire Mitigation Strategies, Randy has worked on various projects for electric utilities across the western US. He has authored/co-authored Wildfire Mitigation Plans and Public Safety Power Shutoff Plans in Oregon, New Mexico, Colorado, Wyoming, and South Dakota. Wildfire Mitigation Strategies provides a daily situational awareness tool useful in guiding electric utilities during escalating fire weather. Mr. Lyle believes that ignition management is key to reducing utility wildfire risk and has developed a customizable Ignition Management Plan framework for utility use.

James S. Downie, Principal, Utility Services, EDM International

James Downie has over 35 years of experience in the utility industry and currently serves as the Principal of Utility Services at EDM International. Prior to this he served as President of Environmental Consultants/ECI as well as director of a large Midwest utility where he was responsible for electric and gas vegetation management and asset inspections. Mr. Downie has a Bachelor’s Degree in Biology with a minor in Environmental Science. He is an ISA Certified Arborist, Utility Specialist, and is TRAQ qualified. James served as President of the Utility Arborist Association from 1996 to 1997.

Ryan A. Brockbank, Principal, Utility ROW Services, EDM International

Ryan Brockbank is Principal of Utility ROW Services at EDM International. He has over 30 years of experience in the areas of utility vegetation management, wildfire risk mitigation, and environmental consulting services and has led operations as President and COO for one of the largest firms providing utility vegetation management consulting and field services in the U.S.. Ryan acts in an advisory capacity to the State of California’s Wildfire Safety Advisory Board and has a Bachelor’s degree in Environmental Studies, a Master’s in Environmental Management, and is an ISA Certified Arborist.