Maui Police Release Preliminary After Action Report on 2023 Lahaina Wildfire

Technical BulletinLast updated Friday, February 9, 2024
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Sourced from USFA Infogram.

On Aug. 8, 2023, Pacific hurricane winds intensified fire behavior in a series of wildfires that occurred on the island of Maui in Hawaii. The wind-driven wildfires destroyed more than 2,200 structures and caused about $5.5 billion in damage. The most significantly impacted area was the historic district of Lahaina, where more than 100 lives were lost. The August 2023 Maui wildfires now rank as the fifth deadliest in U.S. history and the worst natural disaster in Hawaii’s history.

Several investigations into the Maui wildfires are still ongoing, and this preliminary report is the first analysis to be released by any of the island's emergency response agencies. The MPD’s examination deals exclusively with the Maui police response. It does not address the cause and origin of the fires or the response by fire crews.

During the wildfire, the MPD played a supporting role to the fire response, assisting with evacuations, communications and rescue efforts.

The preliminary report makes 32 recommendations to improve Maui’s police response to future natural disaster response efforts. Some recommendations call for better equipment and updates to technology. For example, two recommendations were to provide officers with better earpieces to use when high winds make it hard to hear police radios and to equip all patrol cars with breaching kits to remove downed trees or utility poles from roadways.

Other recommendations focus on improving communications between emergency personnel and officers themselves, such as stationing a high-ranking officer — a lieutenant or higher — in the communications center to help relay information to police commanders. The report also suggested giving officers in the field more briefings during recovery efforts.

The final MPD report will be released within the next 6 to 12 months. In the meanwhile, the preliminary report will be shared with other law enforcement agencies across the nation for their input and so they can also benefit from the recommendations.

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