Skip to page content
USDA Forest Service

Research & Development Treesearch

Treesearch Home
About Treesearch
Contact Us
Research & Development
Forest Products Lab
International Institute of Tropical Forestry
Pacific Northwest
Pacific Southwest
Rocky Mountain
Southern Research Station
Help - We Participate  Government Made Easy

Global Forest Information Service

US Forest Service
P.O. Box 96090
Washington, D.C.

(202) 205-8333

You are here: Home / Search / Publication Information
Bookmark and Share

Publication Information

View PDF (3.8 MB)

Title: Efficient initial attacks: analysis of capacity and funding provides insights to wildfire protection planning

Author: Fried, Jeremy; Meznarich, Paul.;

Date: 2014

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

Publication Notes:

  • We recommend that you also print this page and attach it to the printout of the article, to retain the full citation information.
  • This article was written and prepared by U.S. Government employees on official time, and is therefore in the public domain.
  • You may send email to to request a hard copy of this publication. (Please specify exactly which publication you are requesting and your mailing address.)



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.


 [ Get Acrobat ]  Get the latest version of the Adobe Acrobat reader or Acrobat Reader for Windows with Search and Accessibility

USDA logo which links to the department's national site. Forest Service logo which links to the agency's national site.