Washington state forester testifies before House committee on wildland fire science

At a virtual hearing held by the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology today, Washington State Forester George Geissler testified on behalf of NASF on opportunities for further research and coordination related to wildland fire science.

Research and Development (R&D) plays a critical role in supporting wildland fire management efforts and improving technology used to support all phases of wildland fire management. R&D can produce valuable information and applications that support wildland fire management and help land managers better understand fuels and wildfire behavior.

Wildfire management is inherently a partnership effort between Federal, State, local, and volunteer agencies and departments. All of these entities stand to benefit from coordinated R&D efforts that better inform or enable the mitigation of wildfire risk and the effects of climate change. Forest Service R&D has played a vital role in U.S. wildland fire management and response programs since the early 1900s and continues to develop new tools that support wildfire management and response, even as the complexity of wildfire management in the U.S. increases. Numerous Forest Service R&D contributions have changed the way fire managers in the U.S. and other countries manage and respond to wildland fires. Here are three examples:

  • The Incident Command System (ICS) provides the common management structure that all wildland firefighters and support personnel use in responding to wildfire incidents. The ICS was developed as part of the Riverside FireScope Research, Development, and Applications (RD&A) program in the 1970s and has been used since its inception in Federal wildfire response. Over time, the system has been adopted by emergency responders around the world and, in 2001, as a result of the important role it played in September 11th response, ICS became the management structure used for all natural and human-caused disasters in the U.S.
  • The National Fire Danger Rating System (NFDRS) is used by wildland fire managers to assess the seasonal progression of fire danger, allocate firefighting assets, determine use restrictions, and communicate wildfire risk to the public.
  • Fire behavior prediction systems that use the Rothermel (1972) model are used by Federal agencies and others to predict wildland fire behavior. This model is employed as the core of many fire behavior and decision-support applications that rely on fire spread prediction.

The full text of Geissler’s testimony is linked below. This hearing was recorded and will be archived here.

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