Background: The decision making process undertaken during wildfire responses is complex and prone to uncertainty. In the US, decisions federal land managers make are influenced by numerous and often competing factors.
Aims: To assess and validate the presence of decision factors relevant to the wildfire decision making context that were previously known and to identify those that have emerged since the US federal wildfire policy was updated in 2009.
Methods: Interviews were conducted across the US while wildfires were actively burning to elucidate time-of-fire decision factors. Data were coded and thematically analysed.
Key results: Most previously known decision factors as well as numerous emergent factors were identified.
Conclusions: To contextualise decision factors within the decision making process, we offer a Wildfire Decision Framework that has value for policy makers seeking to improve decision making, managers improving their process and wildfire social science researchers.
Implications: Managers may gain a better understanding of their decision environment and use our framework as a tool to validate their deliberations. Researchers may use these data to help explain the various pressures and influences modern land and wildfire managers experience. Policy makers and agencies may take institutional steps to align the actions of their staff with desired wildfire outcomes.