Fire Assessment‎ > ‎

A Process to Follow

What makes a good Analyst (Mark Finney...FBSC YouTube Video)

Examine current fire situation (location, factors, spread direction & fire behavior)

  • Fuel: Is it burning in grass, litter, or into shrubs and crowns?
  • Fuel Moisture: are fuels dry? Are they still green?
  • Terrain: Is it burning upslope, downslope?
  • Weather: Is the wind pushing it, is it sheltered from the wind?
  • Fire Behavior: is it smoldering, creeping, or actively spreading? Are the flames low, or is it burning hot?

Evaluate the unburned areas where you are and will be working

  • Which spread directions do you expect to be active?
  • Which seems like the spread directions that will produce the most problems?
  • Which of the spread directions are of most concern to you?

Anticipate the expected fire situation in those areas

  • Fuel: What fuel is it going to move into in that direction? Will it burn hotter and faster? Slower & cooler?
  • Fuel Moisture – will the change in fuel moisture encourage extreme fire behavior?
  • Terrain – slope reversal?  Flat to upslope? Will changes increase or lower fire behavior?
  • Weather - As the fire moves, will it be more exposed to the wind? Will the wind increase in the future?
  • Fire Behavior - do you anticipate the fire behavior being manageable, based on the anticipated changes?

Assess Fire Risk: Interpret Ignition and Crown Fire Potential

  • Is it the typical dry period for the area?
  • Is the overall drought situation enough to make it worse?
  • Has there been recent crown fire on this or other fires in the area?
  • Is the humidity, and fine fuel moisture, low enough to encourage intense surface fire?
  • Is backing fire causing torching? If so, expect crown fire with head fire.
  • Is fire moving up ladder fuels?  Expect at least short crown fire runs.

Project Fire Spread, Flame Length and Spotting Distance

  • Select proper tool for assessment: Spatial tools in WFDSS, BehavePlus and field tools for quick analysis, Nomograms, and crown fire assessment tools are included here. 
  • Can you calibrate projections with current fire behavior?
  • How precise do the projections need to be?

Determine Decision Thresholds to Insure LCES

  • Determine time frames for escape to safety & escape routes.  What windspeeds or changes in fire behavior will render those time frames insufficient?
  • Identify best locations and methods for lookout to monitor and validate your assessment
  • Insure that weather & fire behavior observations are communicated to the entire crew.
  • Will Fatigue and Logistics factors impact these decisions?

Document Your Assessment

  • Record your observations and assumptions
  • Use worksheets and include notes for each assessment
  • Include assessments and decisions in personal logs
  • Remember: “If you’re not keeping score, it’s just practice”