Advances in Fire Practice - Introductory Video
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From the Editor:
Why Another Wildland Fire Website?
By Josh McDaniel
There can be differing viewpoints within the fire community. There are those who have been using BEHAVE all their careers and are completely comfortable with it, and then there are those that like to explore other ways of working with fire. Not to take away from anyone, but it's just my nature to see what might be different or better out there. There are so many tools coming out, and it takes years to learn them and to put them into practice in the field. So, if there was a place I could go to read how other people are trying new tactics or tools before I started investing time in learning how… I would use it. Ross Oxford, BLM - Fire Use Module Leader
Conversations we have had with fire managers and practitioners from across the U.S. have shaped our approach to Advances in Fire Practice. Our goal is not to be a "one-stop shop" for information on fire science and practice. Readers who are looking for a database of tools and resources are advised to check out FRAMES
, a web-based fire science and research site. We want to bring efforts and ideas to the forefront that leaders in the fire management, practice, and research communities have identified as innovative and widely applicable, while also providing access to critical and proven fire information and resources.
In sum, we will spotlight innovation in the fire profession, provide access to some of the latest and most useful fire science being produced, and spur constructive discussions on the challenges and issues facing fire professionals. There are a number of features found on this site directly related to these goals. First, there is the access to and reviews of research articles, tools, and findings coming out of fire science. We have developed summaries of fire resources available from the Forest Service Research Stations and Labs, and created fire centered indexes of science journal articles – allowing readers to scan recent abstracts and fire science titles in major journals. Second, we will be building a collection of case studies of innovative projects tackling some of the most common and general challenges facing fire professionals – invasive species, fuels management, smoke management, public involvement/outreach, and training and mentoring. And, finally, we will also provide resources for fire instructors and students in fire science classes with a curriculum swap corner, lesson plans, and an article review platform.
Research in all varieties of fire science has expanded rapidly over the last decade with increased funding under the National Fire Plan and with the Joint Fire Sciences Program. From fuels modeling and fire effects on invasive plants to technology in support of fire suppression and firefighter safety, research is providing fire managers and practitioners with the knowledge and tools that have the potential to transform how they are applying and fighting fire in the field. However, the amplification in the amount of information coming out of the research community has not necessarily translated into new and better science being put into practice.
Many fire managers and practitioners have told us that science plays a large role in their job, and under ideal circumstances, science would determine the course taken in how they make major decisions. However, the reality is that fire managers and practitioners are under many constraints that often push science to the backburner. Time is the biggest limitation in their ability to stay on top of the latest and best fire science. With fire deployments, training, planning, and reporting requirements, little time is left to wade through the scientific literature or to retool with a new piece of complex fire behavior modeling software. Additionally, agency regulations and State and federal standards often play determining roles in fire management. For instance, burn quotas and air quality standards may play a larger role in shaping prescribed fire and fire use programs than attention to desired ecological conditions.
Another constraint is the nature of science itself. By definition, scientific studies are very specific in what they are measuring with tight controls on the environmental context in which they are set up. This often limits their applicability to the wide range of field situations faced by fire practitioners. As one fire management officer in Utah put it, “Researchers are often more interested in species responses to some treatment, while I am looking at landscape responses. I don’t have the luxury of managing for one species, I have to be concerned with the health of the land in general.”
Fire science also has another set of qualities which are a primary concern of this website – it is dispersed and often buried in an avalanche of information coming out of scientific journals, websites, government documents, conference proceedings, research stations, and university labs. Fire managers and practitioners find it increasingly difficult to pinpoint and get their hands on the science that is relevant for the problems and challenges they face.
With those problems in mind, we set about building a website that helps to isolate and demonstrate the fire science findings and tools that are most useful in the field. Fire science is so varied, covering a large number of fields and disciplines that we could never provide complete access to the entire range of scientific information needed by the equally diverse range of fire professionals. Nevertheless, we do want to provide as much access as possible to the information coming out of research circles by providing updates and reviews of publications, tools, and news coming out of research stations, labs, and universities. AFP will work to provide a filter on the findings and tools coming out of fire research, identifying and profiling projects, papers, and tools that have strong potential for wide field application. AFP also recognizes that a great deal of the advancement in fire practice comes as a result of field innovation with or without input from formal research. So, in addition to the focus on fire science, AFP will describe innovative approaches to common and general fire management challenges by highlighting projects that have found success in incorporating new strategies and techniques into fire management.
Advances in Fire Practice is developing with the information needs and concerns of fire professionals front and center. We invite you to look around, and then let us know how the site meets your expectations. Let us know if there is something we could provide that would help you in fighting or applying fire. We look forward to working with you.