Technology Transfer

Spatial Fire Management Planning in WFDSS

Spatial Fire Planning (SFP) is a planning processthat can describe an administrative unit’s Strategic Objectives and Management Requirements based on site-specific direction in the form of mapped shapes or polygons. The Wildland Fire Decision Support System (WFDSS) supports this Spatial Fire Planning process. This guide helps WFDSS users understand the Spatial Fire Planning process and how it can be implemented successfully for an administrative unit.

Two types of planning processes are available in WFDSS. Depending upon the agency affiliation and directives, one may be preferred or mandated over another.

Spatial Fire Planning (SFP) - Requires spatial data which represents Land Management Objectives and Requirements from an administrative unit’s planning documents. This information is inherently spatial because it applies to an administrative unit or a part of it. In Spatial Fire Planning, Strategic Objective shapes are developed at the local level, and managed as a national dataset by submitting shapes during quarterly “data calls. Management Requirement shapes however are uploaded by a local WFDSS Data Manager and generally managed at the administrative or local unit level.

Fire Management Unit (FMU) Planning - The FMU planning process, does not require spatial data, to represent Land Management Objectives and Requirements. Strategic Objectives and Management Requirement are represented spatially but are both tied to the same FMU shape. FMU shapes are developed locally but managed nationally as a national dataset.

Read more about the WFDSS Spatial Fire Planning process 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.

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 May 27, 2015)
White Paper - Improving WFDSS Incident Objectives & Incident Requirements and Relaying Leader's Intent (Updated May 27, 2015)
Creating Incident Specific Objectives in WFDSS - This document outlines some best practices for creating incident specific objectives (October 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)

PNW 2015 Fire Season Timeline

The Pacific Northwest Region of the U.S. Forest Service is pleased to release a new interactive story map detailing the historic 2015 fire season in the Pacific Northwest. This was designed to tell the complete story of the fire season's key events through a visual and interactive narrative timeline in a geospatial format.

The 2015 fire season was the most severe in the Pacific Northwest's modern history, with Oregon and Washington experiencing more than 3,800 wildfires that burned more than 1.6 million acres. The Forest Service commissioned this narrative summary to capture the full story, not only for historical purposes, but also to help the agency and the public continue to learn from past experiences and prepare for future fire seasons.

In the face of changing climate and longer, more expensive fire seasons, the Forest Service is committed to working collaboratively with our partners to ensure communities are prepared and resilient.

Both the interactive story map and the full narrative summary are available online, in an interactive application or PDF Document

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

Turn captions on/off with button at bottom of video screen.



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.

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

Mobile Technology is becoming increasingly important in the Wildland Fire environment. To address this growing need, the Wildland Mobile Technologies Working Group was formed. This group has helped to facilitate beta testing of various mobile technologies. This group also is a bridge between the CIO, FAM, agency leadership and the users in the field. Click on the banner above to learn more about mobile technology in wildland fire.

RMC BlueSky Deployment

RMC is collaborating with the Northwest Regional Modeling Consortium to implement the BlueSky Modeling System. BlueSky is a suit of applications predicting combustion, smoke emission and particulate matter dispersion from wildfires and prescribed burns. The system currently predicts smoke impacts over the entire Western USA using MM5-forecasted weather fields provided by RMC. We have been producing smoke dispersion forecast for the West since July, 2003. BlueSky has been linked to a Web-enabled geographic information system called the Rapid Access Information System (RAINS) to display smoke forecasts on geographic background features.