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Call for Special Sessions (closed)

Special Sessions are opportunities for individuals to organize a set of presentations on a topic of their choosing and can include presentations, panels, discussions, and Q&A. Special Sessions will be held in meeting rooms with theatre-style seating, and we will also have an option to hold special sessions virtually.

We are encouraging special session proposals this year, as we hope to create a program with cohesive sets of presentations to better fit the virtual format and reduce attendee movement among meeting rooms. Although not required, we are very interested in proposals that address the Fire Congress theme, Life with Fire: Prescriptions for Resilience. If desired, we will connect organizers with new potential speakers through the open call for proposals.


We expect some special sessions will be completely virtual, where the organizer and all the speakers present remotely. These sessions will be conducted through Zoom, with a virtual platform that allows for online questions and follow-up discussions with the group or specific presenters. The sessions will be recorded for future viewing, and we will have a meeting room onsite so in-person attendees can view the virtual sessions as part of the event. 

For the sessions occurring onsite, the organizer/co-organizer and some/most speakers will be presenting in-person at the Fire Congress. These presentations will be conducted through Zoom, and remote presenters can join if needed. Virtual attendees can view the presentation live or watch the recorded version later, and engage with presenters via the virtual platform.

We recognize that many organizers and presenters don’t know yet if they can attend the congress in-person. For now, we ask that you indicate on your proposal form whether you 1) hope to attend in-person (with virtual as a back-up) or 2) know you can only attend virtually. 

Special session organizers determine the topic area, choose speakers, plan the session length and format, and develop synergy between the presentations. Organizers may also choose to follow their Special Session with a Fire Circle to continue important discussions or work on synthesis projects.

Once a Special Session has been accepted, the organizer is responsible for contacting potential speakers, obtaining their commitment, and instructing them to submit an abstract using the Oral Presentation Abstract Submission Form by the August 1 submission deadline. Special Session organizers will then review the abstracts submitted for their session, inform speakers of acceptance, and provide a final schedule to congress planners.

At the Congress, organizers often introduce and summarize the session, serve as the session’s moderator and timekeeper, and facilitate discussion and questions. Please consider our efforts to improve diversity and inclusivity as you plan your special session and invite speakers.

NEW THIS YEAR! Individuals who submit a presentation to the open call for proposals will have the option to indicate if their talk is a good fit for one of the special sessions that has been accepted for the Fire Congress. In this case, we would send the organizer the relevant proposal for review and acceptance. We have done this informally in the past and believe that providing this opportunity for all presenters and organizers will diversify speakers, create new connections, and build cohesive sessions. This is optional; if organizers do not wish to participate, they can opt-out.

Special Session organizers can choose to fill one to three presentation time blocks, which are 1 hour 40 minutes long and sessions can include presentations, panels, discussions, and Q&A.

Within each time block, organizers can vary the length of time given for individual presentations, panels, or discussions. However, any variations in length should be in increments of 20 minutes to maintain a compatible schedule for all sessions. For example, you might decide to have a 40-minute overview followed by three 20-minute presentations. Or you might have a 20-minute introduction, a 1-hour panel, and a 20-minute discussion and conclusion. We will attempt to schedule the number of time blocks you request consecutively on the same day. Keep in mind that the time blocks will be broken up by breaks and lunch.

Special Session proposals are evaluated for inclusion based on the clarity of the abstract and draft agenda, the relevance of the topic and its appeal to attendees, and available rooms and time in the congress schedule. We will contact organizers with overlapping topics or themes to determine if their sessions can be merged.

Please have the following information ready when you submit your proposal:

  • Contact information of the organizer
  • Title and abstract of the special session
  • Short summary for the conference program booklet and mobile app (50 words or less)
  • Preference for day(s) and length of time needed
  • Draft agenda, including potential speakers and their presentation title/topic and expected method of participation (virtual or in-person)

Special Session organizers and presenters must pay a registration fee to attend and present at the Fire Congress. There are options for reduced registration fees through volunteering and one-day registrations, and we will also have scholarships for those that require financial assistance.