Preparedness Level raised to 5, first time since 2008

West Fork 2 Fire

West Fork 2 Fire, now part of the Lolo Creek Complex southwest of Missoula, InciWeb photo

The National Multi-Agency Coordinating Group (NMAC) raised the national Preparedness Level (PL) to the highest possible today, PL 5. The criteria for PL 5, according to the Mobilization Guide (page 52) is:

Wildland fire or other incidents nationally have the potential to exhaust all agency fire resources. Eighty percent (80%) of Type 1 and Type 2 [Initial Attack] crews are committed, as well as the majority of other National Resources. Significant fire potential is likely to remain high in at least three (3) Geographic Areas with no indication of improvement in the next seven (7) days.

Preparedness Levels are based on burning conditions, fire activity, predicted weather and resource availability. They indicate the overall current and expected fire activity on a national or local basis. The levels range from 1 (minimal activity) to 5 (very high activity).

Since 1990 we have been in PL 5 ten times, but the last time was in 2008. PL 5 was reached in 1990, 1994, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2006, 2007, and 2008.

The primary reasons for going to PL 5 today were:

  • The high level of current fire activity in Idaho, Oregon and Utah, plus emerging large fires in California and Montana.
  • A weather forecast that calls for the possibility of widespread lightning and hot and dry weather over an extended period.
  • Some shortages of national resources.

The national Situation Report lists 48 uncontained large fires. In some cases the report appears to count each “complex” as one fire, even though complexes consist of multiple individual fires.

Committed today on fires, are 10 Type 1 Incident Management Teams, 21 Type 2 Teams, and 2 NIMO teams.

Five of the eight military MAFFS C-130 air tankers have been activated.

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About Bill Gabbert

Wildland fire has been a major part of Bill Gabbert’s life for several decades. After growing up in the south, he migrated to southern California where he lived for 20 years, working as a wildland firefighter. Later he took his affinity for firefighting to Indiana and eventually the Black Hills of South Dakota where he was the Fire Management Officer for a group of seven national parks. Today he is the creator and owner of and Sagacity Wildfire Services and serves as an expert witness in wildland fire. If you are interested in wildland fire, welcome… grab a cup of coffee and put your feet up. Google+

2 thoughts on “Preparedness Level raised to 5, first time since 2008

  1. With this type of fire activity, it amazes me that not only did our Type 4 engine just get de-mob’d but our Type 6 also sits at home, in Utah.

    The government obviously does not need any additional private resources. That is unfortunate when crews are being called in from so far away! Why not use local?

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