Choices about fire: when do you want it and what do you want it to do?

Whaley prescribed fire
A firefighter keeps an eye on the Whaley prescribed fire northeast of Hill City, SD, January 14, 2016. Photo by Bill Gabbert. (click to enlarge)

A student in the Environmental Science Journalism program at the University of Montana wrote an article examining how the media covers wildland fires. In addition to talking with reporters, Andrew Graham extensively quoted Mark Finney of the USDA Forest Service’s Missoula Fire Science Laboratory. You should read the entire article, but here is an excerpt.

There is a choice to be made with fire, which Finney says is not made clear to the public.

“We’ve proven that we cannot keep fire out. It is inevitable, it will occur. Everywhere there’s fuel, you will have fire. Your choice is, when do you want it and what do you want it to do? That’s all you have, those are your choices. Your choices are not whether to have fire or not.”


Thanks and a tip of the hat go out to Tom.

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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.