Inaugural World Fire Congress takes place in Washington


WASHINGTON — Representatives from more than 50 countries around the world are in Washington this week for the inaugural World Fire Congress.

They’re gathering in D.C. to share advice and come up with solutions to take on big issues like tackling wildfires. 

What You Need To Know

  •  Fire experts from 55 countries are in D.C. for the first World Fire Congress
  •  The officials are discussing how to mitigate wildfires, retain firefighters and deal with emerging threats
  •  The next World Fire Congress will take place in the United Kingdom in 2026

“I was just talking with some of my colleagues in Europe and we are hearing about fires in Germany and Greece at a scale that they have never seen them before,” said FEMA Administrator Deanne Criswell. “And, even here in the U.S., we experienced the smoke from Canada’s largest wildfire ever last year. And, so this threat is continuing to be more significant in countries that aren’t used to experiencing it.”

Mitigating wildfires is one of several topics fire officials will be discussing during the event. 

“I think that’s one of the takeaways, right? Is that none of these problems affect just one thing, and Canadian wildfires … are inundating our community with smoke. That affects people’s health, right?” District of Columbia Fire and Emergency Medical Services Chief John Donnelly.

Donnelly said those attending the event also will explore other concerns, like new fire risks. 

“There are things like emerging technologies, and how do we implement them to be safe and to be safe in our community?” Donnelly said. “So, we hear a lot about lithium ion battery fires and what that means, and that’s not all lithium ion batteries, but it is certain types.”

Criswell noted that firefighters respond to a wide range of disasters.

“Our firefighters across the globe are not just responding to fires or responding to earthquakes,” she said. “They’re responding to floods, responding to severe weather in different forms, volcanoes, and it’s that group of first responders that we really need to help open up that dialogue.”

The World Fire Congress will next meet in the United Kingdom in 2026. 

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