After the recent fire in a Napakiak jail, which claimed two lives and severely injured a guard, a sense of vulnerability has spread across rural Alaska. 

Many communities have questioned whether they are prepared to fight a fast-moving fire. Like Napakiak, an off-the-road system village on the Kuskokwim River in Southwest Alaska, they have limited resources for fire protection and are unable to maintain what they have, let alone train their volunteers.

After we recorded Frontiers Episode 173, “Into the Fire,” we sat down for an expanded interview with Richard Boothby, the State Fire Marshal, and Lisa Shield, director of the Office of Rural Fire Protection. Shield is originally from Kotzebue and is familiar with the unique challenges rural Alaskans face – from limited water supplies, to the reliance on volunteers to protect the community.

If you have further questions, you can reach Shield at (907) 269-6083. Her email is: lisa.shield@alaska.gov.

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