NWCG, the terminology police

The National Wildfire Coordination Group, apparently with a lot of time on their hands, distributed a memo on April 30 directing that certain terminology is obsolete and should not be used, and that other terms are now in vogue and should be used if you want to be one of the cool people. This, from the group that in the 1990’s brought us “Wildland Fire Use for Resource Benefits” as a term that should be used when talking about wildland fire with the general public. Rolls off the tongue very easily.

But seriously, there is a need for land management agencies to use the same terminology when planning for and discussing fire, but the terms have to make sense, be descriptive, and be easily remembered.

According to the memo, there are two terms that are now illegal to use and are described as obsolete:

Appropriate Management Response: “Although obsolete, this term was used in Land/Resource and Fire Management Plans as the type and level of response to a wildland fire based on threats to lives and safety, resource values, and fire conditions. This may have included a flexible range of tactics and strategies to achieve one or more objectives. While the technical definition aligns with the 2009 implementation guidance, the term was often used incorrectly. In general, it is expected that “appropriate” is dropped and communications address the incident objectives, strategies and tactics.”

Wildland Fire Use: “Although now obsolete, this was once used to describe the goals/objectives, strategies, and tactics for a naturally-ignited wildfire to achieve improvements or positive effects to natural resources or reduce risk as identified in land-use and resource management plans. Previously was reported by agencies but now there is no longer internal or external reporting of this type of fire.”

Other interesting tidbits:

Controlled Burn, Prescribed Burn, and Prescribed Fire can all be used interchangeably, and are synonymous.

Wildfire: “An unplanned ignition caused by lightning, volcanoes, unauthorized, and accidental human-caused actions and escaped prescribed fires.”

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Author: Bill Gabbert

After working full time in wildland fire for 33 years, he continues to learn, and strives to be a Student of Fire.