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A framework for developing safe and effective large-fire response in a new fire management paradigm

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The impacts of wildfires have increased in recent decades because of historical forest and fire management, a rapidly changing climate, and an increasingly populated wildland urban interface. This increasingly complex fire environment highlights the importance of developing robust tools to support risk-informed decision making. While tools have been developed to aid fire management, few have focused on large-fire management and those that have typically simplified the decision environment such that they are not operationally relevant. Additionally, fire managers need to be able to evaluate alternative response strategies that lead to tradeoff analyses balancing fire impacts, responder exposure, financial and resource investments, and probability of success. In this review, we describe limitations in existing operational research models from the perspective of large fire management decisions. We identify a broader set of objectives, decisions and constraints to be integrated into the next generation operational research models. Including these changes would support evaluation of a suite of response options and the efficient resource packages necessary to achieve response objectives, aiding decision maker’s ability to minimize responder exposure while reducing the social, ecological and economic impacts of wildfires. We follow with a proposed framework for expanding current large fire decision support systems, and conclude by briefly highlighting critical research needs and organizational changes necessary to create and implement these tools and overcome the negative consequences of positive feedbacks derived from historical and current wildfire management policies and strategies.

C.J. Dunn

Dunn CJ. A framework for developing safe and effective large-fire response in a new fire management paradigm Thompson MP. Forest Ecology and Management. 2017 ;404.

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