Firefighting is an inherently hazardous occupation and responder safety is the primary concern on all incidents. Researchers from the Wildfire Risk Management Science Team are collaborating with fire scientists in Spain and Oregon State University as well as wildfire operations specialists to develop and apply spatial tools that weigh the potential hazards of fire against our ability to position people and resources where they are likely to be effective.
This Suppression Difficulty Index (SDI) provides a spatial summary of “watch out” situations as well as areas with reduced risk to fire responders that can be used to facilitate strategic and tactical fire management decisions. While much of this information is intuitive to firefighters on the ground, the spatial overlay can also be used to help with strategic decision making.
SDI is part of the potential control locations model but can also be used as a stand-alone product. During incident support, SDI can be produced in real-time using spot weather forecasts to identify dynamic changes to fire responder exposure.
The current generation of SDI does not directly address snag hazards or smoke and heat exposure, however, researchers are currently working on ways to integrate these additional hazards into the index.