Fire Policy

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5th National Cohesive Wildland Fire Management Strategy Workshop

Workshop website.

This Workshop is considered “mission critical” for anyone working on these issues in local, state, Tribal and federal agencies, and organizations as well as non-governmental organizations and private companies. There is no other forum in the nation that provides these opportunities.

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Policy reforms for Rx fire liability relief and catastrophe funds

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This paper argues that the expansion of prescribed fire will require new public policies that both protect burn practitioners from liability and compensate for losses from potential fire escapes.

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Supporting a shift in wildfire management from fighting fires to thriving with fires

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Despite the increasing challenges wildfires are posing around the globe, and the flourishing production of high quality wildfire scientific knowledge, the ability of fire science to impact knowledge on the ground, for people, society, economy, and the environment, in a way that facilitates change in the current wildfire management system has been limited. We believe that one reason for this limited impact is due to the fragmentation of this scientific knowledge. Therefore, we propose a Translational Wildfire Science (TWFS) as a new field of knowledge that captures the comprehensive dynamics of wildfire events, that provides information relevant, useful, and accessible to practitioners and citizens, and that facilitates the transfer of scientific knowledge into practice. The foundations of TWFS, including the main principles, the overarching characteristics, and the approach of a TWFS scientist, are presented. Finally, the next steps to be undertaken to consolidate TWFS as a new scientific field are identified.

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Wildfire risk management science team

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During this virtual workshop we will share case studies and lessons learned from the field, showcase multiple scales of potential operational delineations (PODs) work that have been utilized and adapted for a range of applications, identify necessary developments in collaborative fire planning and PODs, and much more.

The workshop will be hosted by RMRS’s Wildfire Risk Management Science (WRMS) team. The WRMS team co-developed PODs and other fire planning tools in collaboration with local experts. These tools have been widely adopted by national forests and other fire and land management groups.

The workshop is designed for a variety of audiences including fuels planners, FMOs, line officers, management planners, community collaboratives, scientists, state and local fire and fuel managers, and consultants. Interested and new users are encouraged to attend.

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Pre-season fire management planning: the use of Potential Operational Delineations to prepare for wildland fire events

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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.

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Use of science in wildland fire management: Barriers and facilitators

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This study developed a conceptual model that describes the possible uses of science in fire management (perception, planning, forecasting, implementation, assessment, communication, and policy), common barriers to science use (lack of science, uncertainty, funding/capacity, conflict), common facilitators to fire science use (collaboration, trust, boundary organizations, co-production), and factors that can act as facilitators or barriers to science use depending on their presence or absence (awareness, accessibility, relevance). In the context of our conceptual model, we reviewed 67 papers that examined fire science use between 1986 and 2019.

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Joint Fire Science Program 2019 progress report

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This progress report highlights some of the many contributions and impacts of the JFSP over the past 2 years including:

  • Continued scientific output from wildland fire research through manuscripts, management briefs, decision-support tools, and syntheses.
  • Efficient delivery of wildland fire science to practitioners through the nationwide Fire Science Exchange Network.
  • Incorporation of wildland fire science to improve policy, restoration success, public and firefighter health and safety, and fuels management, among others.
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Effects of policy change on wildland fire management strategies: Evidence for a paradigm shift in the western US?

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In 2009, new guidance for wildland fire management in the United States expanded the range of strategic options for managers working to reduce the threat of high-severity wildland fire, improve forest health and respond to a changing climate. Markedly, the new guidance provided greater flexibility to manage wildland fires to meet multiple resource objectives. We use Incident Status Summary reports to understand how wildland fire management strategies have differed across the western US in recent years and how management has changed since the 2009 Guidance for Implementation of Federal Wildland Fire Management Policy. When controlling for confounding variation, we found the 2009 Policy Guidance along with other concurrent advances in fire management motivated an estimated 27 to 73% increase in the number of fires managed with expanded strategic options, with only limited evidence of an increase in size or annual area burned. Fire weather captured a manager’s intent and allocation of fire management resources relative to burning conditions, where a manager’s desire and ability to suppress is either complemented by fire weather, at odds with fire weather, or put aside due to other priorities. We highlight opportunities to expand the use of strategic options in fire-adapted forests to improve fuel heterogeneity.

Webinar, video, audio icon

Effects of policy change on wildland fire management strategies

Webinar recording.

In 2009, new guidance for wildland fire management in the United States expanded the range of strategic options for managers working to reduce the threat of high-severity wildland fire, improve forest health and respond to a changing climate. Markedly, the new guidance provided greater flexibility to manage wildland fires to meet multiple resource objectives. We use Incident Status Summary reports to understand how wildland fire management strategies have differed across the western US in recent years and how management has changed since the 2009 Guidance for Implementation of Federal Wildland Fire Management Policy. When controlling for confounding variation, we found the 2009 Policy Guidance along with other concurrent advances in fire management motivated an estimated 27 to 73% increase in the number of fires managed with expanded strategic options, with only limited evidence of an increase in size or annual area burned. Fire weather captured a manager’s intent and allocation of fire management resources relative to burning conditions, where a manager’s desire and ability to suppress is either complemented by fire weather, at odds with fire weather, or put aside due to other priorities. We highlight opportunities to expand the use of strategic options in fire-adapted forests to improve fuel heterogeneity.

Webinar, video, audio icon

New findings on policy barriers and opportunities: Strategies for increasing prescribed fire application on federal lands from case studies in the US West

Webinar recording.

Prescribed fire is an important management tool on federal lands that is not being applied at the necessary or desired levels. Since 2017, we have been investigating policy barriers and opportunities for increasing prescribed fire application on US Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management lands in the Western United States. In the first phase of our work, we found that lack of adequate capacity and funding were the most commonly cited barriers to increasing application of prescribed fire, and that successful approaches rely on collaborative forums and positions that allow for communication, problem-solving, and resource sharing among federal and state partners. In 2019, we completed case studies of locations using unique strategies to increase application of prescribed fire in complex land management contexts. This webinar reports on the primary themes from these case studies, highlighting specific examples of practice from different Forest Service and BLM units.

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