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, based on your anticipated changes being manageable?
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. FLAME, Surface Fire Behavior Lookup Tables and Nomographs, Spotting 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 make sense. 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”