Skip to page content
USDA Forest Service
  
Treesearch

Research & Development Treesearch

 
Treesearch Home
About Treesearch
Contact Us
Research & Development
Forest Products Lab
International Institute of Tropical Forestry
Northern
Pacific Northwest
Pacific Southwest
Rocky Mountain
Southern Research Station
Help
 

Science.gov - We Participate


USA.gov  Government Made Easy


Global Forest Information Service

US Forest Service
P.O. Box 96090
Washington, D.C.
20090-6090

(202) 205-8333

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

Publication Information

View PDF (302.0 KB bytes)

Title: Characterizing large airtanker use in United States fire management

Author: Stonesifer, Crystal S.; Thompson, Matthew P.; Calkin, Dave; McHugh, Charles W.;

Date: 2015

Source: In: Keane, Robert E.; Jolly, Matt; Parsons, Russell; Riley, Karin. Proceedings of the large wildland fires conference; May 19-23, 2014; Missoula, MT. Proc. RMRS-P-73. Fort Collins, CO: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station. p. 314-316.

Publication Series: Proceedings (P)

   Note: This article is part of a larger document. View the larger document

Description: The appropriate role of large airtankers (LATs) in federal fire suppression in the United States has been the source of much debate and discussion in recent years as the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) has faced impending decisions about how best to address an aging fleet of contracted aircraft. Questions of fleet efficiency are complicated by inadequacies in historical data on airtanker use. A need for improved data collection systems for LATs was a key recommendation to come from a 2013 U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) investigation into actions made by the USFS and the U.S. Department of Interior (DOI) regarding fleet modernization. Our research has also identified deficiencies in data collection regarding LAT use in federal fire suppression, particularly with respect to capturing the objectives and outcomes of individual retardant drops. Using spatially-explicit drop location data from 2010 and 2011 for the conterminous U.S., we linked retardant drops to fire occurrence and resource ordering records to identify whether LATs were used during initial attack (IA), and if so, whether or not the fire was contained at the IA phase. Our analysis showed that despite federal policy stating that the priority for use is on IA, 43% of drops from 2010 and 2011 occurred during extended attack (EA) operations. In addition, containment rates of fires associated with LAT use are low; 75% of all IA drops were on fires that escaped IA containment efforts. We expand on this by incorporating drop data from 2012. Further, in order to qualify where and when drops occur, we explicitly characterize the conditions of use for all drops, particularly with respect to terrain, fuels, time of day, weather, and proximity to identified values at risk and areas of restricted retardant use. Preliminary results suggest that approximately 35% of drops occurred in late afternoon (1500 - 1800 hours) and over 30% of all drops intersect with timber fuel models from the LANDFIRE dataset. Here we will elaborate on these results and discuss the potential implications related to the use of LATs in fire management operations.

Keywords: fire ecology, fire behavior, smoke management, fire management, social and political consequences

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 rmrspubrequest@fs.fed.us to request a hard copy of this publication. (Please specify exactly which publication you are requesting and your mailing address.)

XML: View XML

Citation:


Stonesifer, Crystal S.; Thompson, Matthew P.; Calkin, David E.; McHugh, Charles W. 2015. Characterizing large airtanker use in United States fire management. In: Keane, Robert E.; Jolly, Matt; Parsons, Russell; Riley, Karin. Proceedings of the large wildland fires conference; May 19-23, 2014; Missoula, MT. Proc. RMRS-P-73. Fort Collins, CO: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station. p. 314-316.

 


 [ 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.