Wildland Firefighter Foundation
Wildland Firefighter Foundation

Home / WLF TheySaid / How Science Is Fighting Wilder Wildfires Than Ever Before

  • 10/22/2015
  • Nick

Very interesting read from Popular Science, written by Kyle Dickman, I’m curious how many incident meteorologists feel the same about this season and the wild winds.


The views expressed are not those of this site, this blog or its affiliated companies. By posting your comments you agree to accept our terms of use.

  1. TCJ
    October 24, 2015 Reply

    I’m not an IMET but spent a career working on fires in the NW. As noted in the article, “The topography and fuel are constants for us. The only thing that changes is the weather.” That is true on any given incident.

    Having fought fire along lake Chelan during the 1970 fires I would say the winds haven’t changed much. What has changed over time is the condition of the forest fuels and the number of houses built in the woods.

    Today we don’t fight forest fires like we did 45 years ago. Now the emphasis is on protecting structures. The science of fire weather forecasting has changed dramatically over all those years too and these young IMETs today are very good forecasters.

    Thast is an interesting article.

  2. Mike K.
    October 25, 2015 Reply

    @TCJ, I’m curious you said that “we don’t fight forest fires like we did 45 years ago”, being a newbie to the FF family (going on my second year now), what do you mean? Are you saying that we focus too much on saving structure and 45 years ago we would let the fire take it’s course? Just wondering. I’m trying to learn everything I can from those who are very experienced.

  3. TCJ
    October 26, 2015 Reply

    Mike, I started working on a ranger district suppression crew in central Washington as a fire fighter for the USFS in 1968. We did not let the fire take its course. There was something known as the 10 am policy. The policy was to control every fire before 10 AM the next day. Every fire received an immediate response. All fire fighters and resources were committed to containing the fire.

    Beginning about the mid 1980s fires started burning much hotter and getting much larger. Every year it seemed we would see even hotter and larger fires. That trend is continuing. The 10 am policy had created an unnatural forest condition. The natural scheme of fire maintaining a healthy forest has been interrupted. Timber stands have become dense and unhealthy. Dead fuels have built up. Houses are being built in the woods without any thought to fire protection.

    Today firefighters and resources are too often diverted from containing the fire to putting themselves in front of the advancing fire to protect private property and structures. That is not a text book example of safe fire fighting tactics.

  4. Mike K.
    October 26, 2015 Reply

    Thank you TCJ. I really appreciate you responding back and your knowledge that you shared.

Leave a comment