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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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.

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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