Large fire management in 2009

The U.S. Forest Service has released a narrated 11-minute PowerPoint-like presentation that addresses the problems associated with management of the 0.25% of fires that become large and how the USFS is going to deal with some of these issues.  It is narrated by Marc Rounsaville, Deputy Director of USFS Fire and Aviation.  (UPDATE 4:00 p.m. April 5; the presentation has been removed from the USFS site.)

Here are a couple of images from the presentation.  The numbers and statistics appear to refer only to the USFS and are not national interagency figures.

While the presentation does refer to safety, we are thinking that the primary driver behind the program is to reduce spiraling fire costs, which are becoming ridiculous.  That is a very laudable goal but the fatality trend is what caught my eye.  Since 1950 the average number of US Forest Service fatalities has doubled, from 10 to 20.

Since 1950 we have added to our fire management system multiple checklists, personal protective equipment, hundreds of training courses with high-tech PowerPoint presentations, improved vehicles, Supertankers, computers, a vast array of fire behavior prediction systems, and radios, but we are still fighting fire with water and sharpened pieces of metal attached to the ends of sticks. And we are killing twice as many USFS employees.

The presentation makes the point that fires are getting larger.  Here is graph I put together that shows the average size of fires, nationally, not just USFS, has increased by almost 400% from 21 to 82 acres, since the 1970’s.

Typos, let us know HERE, and specify which article. Please read the commenting rules before you post a comment.