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Analyzing How to Increase Fireline Production Efficiency

Photo of Economic costs of fighting the largest fires are increasing. Georgia Forestry CommissionEconomic costs of fighting the largest fires are increasing. Georgia Forestry CommissionSnapshot : Operational data on fireline production rates are generally lower than the rates identified by expert panel estimates. This study found the lower operational rates can be linked to excessive firefighter fatigue, safety considerations, and likely suboptimal managerial decision making.

Principal Investigators(s) :
Holmes, Thomas P. 
Research Location : Research Triangle Park, NC
Research Station : Southern Research Station (SRS)
Year : 2014
Highlight ID : 732


Land management agencies are struggling under growing costs of firefighting. Forest Service research is focused on ways to bring down the costs, especially for the most expensive, largest fires, which have been growing in frequency over the past few decades. Forest Service researchers assembled data from actual large wildfires on national forests, including the length of fireline constructed by fire crews, and compared them to rates published as being expected according to expert panels. The researchers found that observed rates were 7 to 86 percent lower than the published rates. Statistical analyses to explain these observed lower rates could be traced to firefighter fatigue, the need to address firefighter safety in stressful and dangerous wildfire conditions, a focus on protecting particular values at risk, managerial decision making, and unobserved factors specific to the fire being fought.

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