Title: Efficient initial attacks: analysis of capacity and funding provides insights to wildfire protection planning
Author: Fried, Jeremy; Meznarich, Paul.;
Source: Science Findings 164. Portland, OR: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Research Station. 6p.
Publication Series: Science Findings
Description: Large wildfires in the United States pose significant challenges to fire management agencies charged with protecting lives, property, and natural resources. A vigorous initial response to a wildfire, a process referred to as "initial attack," can greatly reduce the likelihood of the fire becoming larger and causing substantial damage.
Successful initial attack depends on deploying the right number and kind of firefighting resources in a timely way. As people build homes where high intensity wildfire is likely, they place greater strain on finite staffing and budgets. Fire planners have sought analytic guidance in designing an efficient initial attack system that minimizes both escaped fires and money spent on underutilized firefighting resources.
Forest Service scientists and colleagues with Oregon State University developed a system that combines historical fire data and fire simulation programming with an optimization protocol to recommend the allocation of equipment and staff that will most effectively support initial attack and reduce escaped fires.
In an analysis of three fire units in the central Sierra Nevada mountains of California, researchers discovered that by consolidating equipment and staff into fewer stations strategically selected based on historical fire patterns, crews could effectively reach as many fires and stop the occurrence of escaped fires at the same level as if their initial attack budgets had been increased by 25 percent.
Keywords: wildland fire, initial attack, optimization, California Fire Economics Simulator, CFES2
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Fried, Jeremy; Meznarich, Paul. 2014. Efficient initial attacks: analysis of capacity and funding provides insights to wildfire protection planning. Science Findings 164. Portland, OR: US Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Research Station. 6 p.
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