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Matthew P. Thompson, Phil Bowden, April Brough, Julie W. Gilbertson-Day, Alan H. Taylor, Jessica R. Haas
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Strategic Risk

NRFSN number: 14351
FRAMES RCS number: 21888
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How wildfires are managed is a key determinant of long-term socioecological resiliency and the ability to live with fire. Safe and effective response to fire requires effective pre-fire planning, which is the main focus of this paper. We review general principles of effective federal fire management planning in the U.S., and introduce a framework for incident response planning consistent with these principles. We contextualize this framework in relation to a wildland fire management continuum based on federal fire management policy in the U.S. The framework leverages recent advancements in spatial wildfire risk assessment—notably the joint concepts of in situ risk and source risk—and integrates assessment results with additional geospatial information to develop and map strategic response zones. We operationalize this framework in a geographic information system (GIS) environment based on landscape attributes relevant to fire operations, and define Potential wildland fire Operational Delineations (PODs) as the spatial unit of analysis for strategic response. Using results from a recent risk assessment performed on several National Forests in the Southern Sierra Nevada area of California, USA, we illustrate how POD-level summaries of risk metrics can reduce uncertainty surrounding potential losses and benefits given large fire occurrence, and lend themselves naturally to design of fire and fuel management strategies. To conclude we identify gaps, limitations, and uncertainties, and prioritize future work to support safe and effective incident response.


Thompson, Matthew P.; Bowden, P.; Brough, A.; Scott, J.H.; Gilbertson-Day, J.; Taylor, A.; Anderson, J.; Haas, J.R. 2016. Application of wildfire risk assessment results to wildfire response planning in the southern Sierra Nevada, California, USA. Forests. 7(3): article 64.

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