Decision Science Deeper Dive

Decision Making for Wildland Fire Incidents

Decision making for wildfires: A guide for applying a risk management process at the incident level" has been published as a General Technical Report (GTR) by the Rocky Mountain Research Station and is available in Adobe PDF format only, from tree search or here.

Incident Objectives Project

Examination of wildland fire incident decisions revealed that most incident objectives are written general enough that they could apply to any fire in the country. This makes them of little use to incident management teams in developing strategies and tactics to achieve an agency administrator's intent for managing a specific fire and for agency administrators seeking to clarify the objectives they want accomplished.

A systematic evaluation of wildfire incident decisions was undertaken during the 2014 fire season, to better understand the situation and recommend solutions. Findings from this work are summarized in the following briefing paper.

Creating Incident Specific Objectives in WFDSS This document outlines some best practices for creating incident specific objectives (February 2019)

USDA FS Briefing Paper 2015 Findings - WFDSS Decision review of Incident Objectives and Incident Requirements (Updated April 8, 2016)
Incident Objectives & Incident Requirements Presentation (.pptx) - PowerPoint presentation summarizing findings from 2014 and 2015 Incident Objectives and Incident Requirements review. (Updated April 8, 2016)
USDA FS Briefing Paper - Wildland Fire Decision Making Incident Objectives & Incident Requirements (Updated July 01, 2015)
White Paper - Improving WFDSS Incident Objectives & Incident Requirements and Relaying Leader's Intent (Updated July 01, 2015)

Fire Example - This is a fire example that demonstrates how Incident Objectives, Incident Requirements, and Course of Action can be consolidated and written to provide clear leader’s intent within a decision. (New February 2016)


Risk Assessment

A video series called, “Strategic-Level Risk Assessment for Fire Behavior Specialists” is available on the WFDSS YouTube Channel. There are seven videos that explain the role of the FBAN and LTAN in providing and communicating products to inform the risk decision. Topics include the Relative Risk Assessment, an Extended Risk Assessment, effects analysis, and the risk conclusion. A supplement is available HERE to use in combination with the videos or as a stand-alone guide.

You can access the Risk Assessment video series playlist from the WFDSS YouTube Channel.

Benefits Analysis Framework

One process that may be helpful in describing how fire threatens values at risk is described in the video below. The process combines the effect of fire type (surface fire, crown fire) on each resource of concern, the potential for that fire type to occur, the probability that fire will reach the value, and Management Action Points to prompt action when needed to protect the value. This process has not been widely used, but is available to be tested. We welcome your feedback and ideas about ways to improve this process. Contact Tonja Opperman.

Example Susceptibility Severity Spreadsheet

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USFS Fire Response Protocols; 7 Standards for Managing Incident Risk & WFDSS

The system for wildfire decision analysis currently required by the USFS is WFDSS which is based on a deliberative risk process. This document is designed to assist you in understanding the processes that exist and how they cross-walk to the Seven Standards for Managing Incident Risk (Chief's 2015 FS Wildland Fire Response Protocol) and WFDSS. Click here to see the entire document.

Example Decisions

The following decision examples are provided as training aids to assist users in understanding how WFDSS can be used as a risk decision-making tool. The Gold Pan Fire of 2013 was an actual fire (located in WFDSS Production). The Gold Pan Fire was a long duration event that varied in IMT organization throughout the life of the fire. The Salt Spring Fire of 2013 is an RD&A created fire (located in WFDSS Training) and is an example of a short duration Type 3 fire.

Gold Pan Fire Decision Example
Salt Springs Decision Example