Stay up-to-date on emerging approaches to wildfire management. Credit: Mike Caggiano, Colorado Forest Restoration Institute, Colorado State University

Three Game-Changing Approaches to Wildfire Response

By: Allison Jolley

Topic: Collaboration Planning Wildfire

Type: Research Synthesis

Whether you’re working at incident command in fire camp or at your desk planning a workshop, I want to draw your attention to three amazing blogs related to wildfire response that we published this year. (Just in case you’ve missed a post … or two … recently.)

Co-Managing Wildfire: Conversations You Need to Have Right Now

Why is managing a wildfire that crosses multiple property lines so difficult? And how can we manage those fires better? In their blog, wildfire researchers Dr. Branda Nowell, Dr. Anne-Lise Velez and Dr. Toddi Steelman share some of their 2017 research, with an eye toward how wildfire managers can get ahead of potential cross-jurisdictional conflict. They outline the three conversations that they think are most important to have before the wildfire arrives, as well as some of the nuances that make collaboration during a wildfire only as strong as the trust and communication that is established beforehand.

Three triangles (labelled, "Share the decision space," "Create greater alignment of objectives," and "Reduce jurisdictional interdependence," surrounding a fourth inner-triangle labelled, "Points of leverage to reduce/resolve tension on multijurisdictional fires."

Nowell et. al’s research on the 2017 wildfire season identified three points of leverage that can potentially reduce or resolve tension during multi-jurisdictional wildfires, each of which are shown in an orange triangle above. You can imagine that as one or more of the orange triangles changes, the green triangle fluctuates accordingly. Read their recommendations on how to reduce conflict during wildfire response by clicking on the image above. Credit: Dr. Branda Nowell, Fire Chasers Research Program

Collaborative Spatial Fire Management: Getting Ahead of Fire Using Potential Operational Delineations

When wildfire managers decide what actions to take, what information do they normally have access to? What might they be missing? How will impacted communities react to the decisions they make? What if there was a way to integrate stakeholder values and landscape characteristics spatially (i.e., on a map) beforehand? In his blog, Mike Caggiano outlines how his research group at the Rocky Mountain Research Station is piloting a new approach to facilitating transparent decisions, allowing good fire to burn under the right conditions, and informing suppression strategies when needed.

Map with hand-drawn polygons and post-it notes on it

Developing boundaries (before a wildfire) that consider control features in relation to topography, timber, wildlife habitat and critical water infrastructure can help wildfire response teams make more informed management decisions. Click on the image above to learn more. Credit: Mike Caggiano, Colorado Forest Restoration Institute, Colorado State University

Fire Adapted Communities on the Range: Why Rangeland Fire Protection Associations Matter

There’s a new model for wildfire response emerging in the West, and it’s allowing ranchers to participate in wildfire suppression early on. This model, known as Rangeland Fire Protection Associations (RFPAs), creates structure and support for ranchers to participate in wildfire response when the start is near their property. Does your state have the right ingredients to cook up something similar? Dr. Emily Jane “EJ” Davis shares insights into her RFPA research, as well as a link to a storymap to learn more in this early-summer post.

Radio inside a truck

The support that Rangeland Fire Protection Associations receive varies. If equipped with basic equipment like radios, wildfire response becomes all the more efficient. Click on the image above to learn more about Rangeland Fire Protection Associations. Credit: Dr. EJ Davis, Oregon State University

What other innovative approaches are emerging in the wildfire-response field? Tell us about them in the comment section below.

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One thought on “Three Game-Changing Approaches to Wildfire Response”

  1. Great article! We are a Fire Protection Association (FPA) in the Western Cape, South Africa (@overbergfpa). FPAs in South Africa is similar as your Rangeland Fire Protection Associations (RFPAs) with a greater focus on wildfire prevention. We have been doing similar planning projects the past two winter seasons. We call it “Winter Planning”. Our area of responsibility (Overberg District) is divided in fire management units and the landowners and responsible Fire Services identify high risk areas. We then facilitate a process where we agree on what fire suppression strategy to follow SHOULD a wildfire start in the identified high risk area. Actions are agreed, which include preparation of the land – fire breaks, communication of strategy to the greater community, budgets (should be in place) AND suppression strategy. Examples of the such strategies are that the initial attack will be “everything we got” – aerial, ground crew, tankers, etc – for the first hour. Review progress, if “winning” fight on, or allow the wildfire to burn to a pre-determined line where it can be safely be controlled. Site visits welcome:)

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