Pre-season fire management planning: the use of Potential Operational Delineations to prepare for wildland fire events
US fire scientists are developing Potential Wildfire Operational Delineations, also known as ‘PODs’, as a pre-fire season planning tool to promote safe and effective wildland fire response, strengthen risk management approaches in fire management and better align fire management objectives. PODs are a collaborative planning approach based on spatial analytics to identify potential wildfire control lines and assess the desirability of fire before ignition. They offer the opportunity to apply risk management principles with partners before the compressed timeframe of incident response. We sought to understand the potential utility of PODs and factors that may affect their use through semi-structured interviews with personnel on several national forests. Interviewees said PODs offer a promising shift in the wildland fire management dynamic, particularly by facilitating proactive communication and coordination about wildfire response. Successfully employing PODs will require leadership commitment, stakeholder and partner engagement and interdisciplinary staff involvement. Our work offers insights for national forests and other jurisdictions where managers are looking to strengthen coordination and strategic approaches for wildland fire response by utilizing pre-season collaboration and data analytics.