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Forestry Sciences Laboratory - Moscow, Idaho
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Engineering Publications

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William J. Elliot
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Value and challenges of conducting rapid response research on wildland fires

Lentile, L.; Morgan, P.; Hardy, C.; Hudak, A.; Means, R.; Ottmar, R.; Robichaud, P.; Kennedy Sutherland, E.; Szymoniak, J.; Way, F.; Fites-Kaufman, J.; Lewis, S.; Mathews, E.; Shovik, H.; Ryan, K. 2007. Value and challenges of conducting rapid response research on wildland fires. Gen. Tech. Rep. RMRS-GTR-193. Fort Collins, CO: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station. 11 p.

Keywords: Rapid Response Research, wildland fire, Incident Management Teams, Joint Fire Science Program, burn severity

Links: pdf PDF [1.5 MB]

Abstract: Rapid Response Research is conducted during and immediately after wildland fires, in coordination with fire management teams, in order to collect information that can best be garnered in situ and in real-time. This information often includes fire behavior and fire effects data, which can be used to generate practical tools such as predictive fire models for managers. Drawing upon lessons learned from fire managers and researchers working on active wildland fires, we identify challenges including high costs, logistics, and safety; understanding and fitting into the fire management organization; building relationships with managers and other researchers; and science delivery. Our recommendations for safer and more effective Rapid Response Research are that researchers must understand the fire organizations and their objectives because a fire manager's primary responsibility is to manage the fire safely, not support research. In addition, researchers must be prepared with equipment, a "red card" signifying sufficient training and fitness, and appropriate knowledge when arriving to do research on a fire. Further, researchers must have and follow an operations plan. We recommend using a liaison to build strong relationships with managers and sharing what was learned. Science guided by questions that are important to managers is essential to improving both the understanding of wildland fire dynamics and developing strategies to address fire risk, rehabilitation, and restoration, yet researchers must be aware of the challenges of conducting research on active wildland fires.

Moscow FSL publication no. 2007h