During the wildfire season, firefighter teams need to make decisions as to which forest fires to suppress and which ones to simply monitor and allow burning. This is a difficult task that involves many technical aspects, but here are some of the main factors that are taken into consideration when deciding which fires to suppress and which ones to let burn.
If a fire is small and has the potential to be put out quickly, firefighters will typically try to extinguish it as soon as possible, before it gets bigger. On the other hand, if the fire is large and has already spread over a significant area, firefighters may focus on containment as opposed to suppression.
The potential risk to human life and property is the biggest factor fire suppression professionals need to consider, and location is a major predictor of this. Fires that are close to residential areas or critical infrastructure like power stations are typically given a higher priority for suppression than fires in remote wilderness areas. When assessing the risk of a wildfire, fire suppression professionals first look at the fire’s location and consider how quickly it could potentially spread to areas where human infrastructure could be damaged.
Weather conditions play a major role in the spread of wildfires. High temperatures, dry conditions, and strong winds can cause fires to spread rapidly, making them more difficult to contain and increasing the threat to human life and structures. Firefighters must consider the weather conditions when deciding which fires to suppress and how to approach them. If weather conditions seem likely to make a fire worse, firefighters will usually focus their efforts on controlling that fire. However, strong winds can also make fighting a fire more dangerous and may dictate whether certain types of suppression are even possible.
The resources available to firefighters, including personnel, equipment, and aircraft, will also impact their decision to suppress a wildfire. If resources are limited, firefighters may have to prioritize the most critical fires and let others burn until additional resources are freed up.
SPIEDR helps provide communities with the resources they need for effective wildland fire suppression and management. Our services include equipment rentals, fire suppression training, and consulting.