Why we fight fire the way we do

Looked for a topic to attach this to, couldn’t find anything relevant. Since some nonfire peoples educate themselves on this site I figured I’d share it.

I think his explanation is very well written (tweeted :bird:). Spread it far and wide.


Bet the new office is bigger, however the view is probably not as good.

Forest Service - Washington Office - 1400 Independence Avenue, SW**

Washington, D.C. 20250

File Code: 5100 Date: August 2, 2021

Route To:

Subject: Chief’s Wildland Fire Direction

To: Regional Foresters, Station Directors, IITF Director, Deputy Chiefs, and WO Directors

The 2021 fire year is different from any before. On July 14, 2021, the National Multi-Agency Coordination Group raised the national preparedness level (PL) to 5, the earliest point in a decade and the third earliest ever. There are currently over 70 large fires burning across the nation and 22,000 personnel responding, which are both nearly three times more than the 10-year average for the month of July. Severe drought is affecting over 70 percent of the West, and the potential for significant fire activity is predicted to be above normal into October. Our firefighters are fatigued, especially after more than a year of almost constant deployments, beginning with helping Australia in January 2020, and continuing through a difficult 2020 fire year and then supporting the vaccination effort in early 2021. In addition, COVID-19 infections are rising again. They are degrading our firefighting response capacity at an alarming rate, which will persist until more Americans are vaccinated.

In short, we are in a national crisis. At times like these, we must anchor to our core values, particularly safety. In PL 5, the reality is we are resource limited. The core tenet of the Forest Service’s fire response strategy is public and firefighter safety above all else. The current situation demands that we commit our fire resources only in instances where they have a high probability of success and they can operate safely and effectively. We will rely on the tested principles of risk management in determining our strategies and tactics.

At this time, for all of these reasons, managing fires for resource benefit is a strategy we will not use. In addition, until further notice, ignited prescribed fire operations will be considered only in geographic areas at or below PL 2 and only with the approval of the Regional Forester after consulting with the Chief’s Office. We are in a “triage mode” where our primary focus must be on fires that threaten communities and infrastructure. There is a finite amount of firefighting resources available that must be prioritized and fires will not always get the resources that might be requested. We will support our Agency administrators and fire managers as they make the best choices they can, given the resources at hand, the immediate threats, and the predicted weather.

Let me be clear. This is not a return to the “10 a.m. Policy.” This is the prudent course of action now in a situation that is dynamic and fluid. When western fire activity abates, we will resume using all the tools in our toolbox, including wildfire and prescribed fire in the right places and at the right time.

I know we all continue to remember the sacrifices of the fallen. Let us honor them by ensuring we do all we can to get everyone home safely, every single day. Thank you for all you are doing. I’m proud to serve alongside you.



Skillfully written. The quote above is basically telling us that we are going to manage fires without calling it that. Same as it ever was. Triage = letting backcountry fires that are beyond our control do what they were going to do anyway. Politicians can play all the games they want with words, but fire doesn’t read.


Same thoughts here pyro

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Checking in. Hope all is well with you and family.

Article is behind a paywall, but interesting to see in a very east coast media outlet. Minimal “climate change is the root of all evil,” realistic discussion of fire fighting and forestry practices. I would not be surprised if several members from this board are prominently featured in the article…

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Yes, the author came out and burned with us in Nebraska on rangeland/habitat burns this spring, and then took a roll with a contract handcrew on the Dixie Fire, got out on other burns and wildfires this summer. I think she did a good job with the article.


Why we fight fire the way we do:

Most times we look left and right at eachother. Other times we may look down a line of faces that remind us of ourselves in one way or another. Our people is why we fight fires the way we do. It still means alot to look everyone in the eyes and tell them “We are going direct, anchor here.” It means alot more if they trust us enough to pull cord and follow. It means the most when we all hike out together.

Enjoyed the article though.