United States Search and Rescue Task Force

 

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The Elk Bath picture above, was taken by the Alaskan Type I Incident Management Team (John McColgan) on August 6, 2000 on the East Fork of the Bitterroot River on the Sula Complex.   This picture was taken while fighting a wildland fire.  The Elk seek the safety of the center of the river to escape the fire.

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 Introduction 

Cities have grown into suburbs and suburbs into what was once considered rural America. Citizens are acquiring secluded homes surrounded by forests, mountain cabins, or sprawling farms.  This movement is creating an extremely complex landscape that has come to be known as the wildland/urban interface.  The impact of severe wildfire on your community, your state and your federal government is staggering.  According to the National Wildland Coordinating Group, since 1970 we’ve spent more than $20 billion dollars fighting fire at the fringes of our burgeoning population centers, in the areas described above as the wildland/urban interface.. Encroaching development into forests, grasslands and farms is resulting in numerous infrastructure problems, including catastrophic wildfires which increasingly threatens lives, homes and businesses.

 Wildfire Classifications

 There are three different classes of wildfires.  A “surface fire” is the most common type and burns along the floor of a wildland, moving slowly and killing or damaging plants.   A “ground fire” can burn anytime the surface burns and the subsurface organic material is dry enough to burn.  They may be started by lightning and burns on or below the surface floor in the humus layer down to the mineral soil.  “Crown fires” spread rapidly by wind and move quickly by jumping along the tops of the trees. 

 Firewise Communities

 Fire protection in the wildland/urban interface should be viewed as a partnership, whereas most people think government protects communities from the threat of wildland fire. Communities are reconsidering the traditional view of firefighters as “protectors” and homeowners as “victims” of wildland fire.  The paradigm is shifting from “protector-victim” to “ partner-partner”.  By partnering with the fire service, each community can take on a larger responsibility for their own planning, mitigation and personnel protection before and during wildfires.  So each citizen needs to be prepared for the effects of wildland fire before that fire ever starts.   To further explore what you and your community can do visit www.firewise.org and follow the home and community evaluation techniques described there.

  Personal Safety

Before The Fire:

During a Fire:

After The Fire:

   Wildfire Suppression

Introduction:

When dealing with wildfire situations the best method of wildfire suppression is to ensure that the fuel the fire needs to continue to burn is kept away from your home and other structures.  By keeping a 30 foot (minimum) survivable space around your home and by doing a number of simple and affordable mitigation efforts, your home and the surrounding area will be FIREWISE.

Wildland Fire Facts And Figures For The Year 2000

Total Number of Wildland Fires and Acres from 
January 1, 2000 to August 08, 2011 by State

State Number of  Fires Number of Acres
AK 351 751,233
AL 5,584 85,827
AR 2,924 35,820
AZ 3,592 85,660
CA 7,283 235,248
CO 2,101 126,747
CT 91 717
DC 2 2
DE 12 165
FL 6,572 200,980
GA 7,357 52,129
IA 0 0
ID 1,599 1,361,459
IL 29 597
IN 1,486 3,668
KS 20 1,112
KY 1,741 141,124
LA 4,542 103,254
MA 1,854 2,735
MD 253 506
ME 243 298
MI 646 11,678
MN 2,828 70,539
MO 200 13,017
MS 5,040 73,672
MT 2,437 949,817
NC 4,913 35,008
ND 1,147 71,606
NE 33 24,537
NH 248 160
NJ 521 1,432
NM 2,466 519,177
NV 1,078 635,715
NY 107 457
OH 817 4,134
OK 1,936 83,547
OR 2,006 477,741
PA 115 954
PR 1 1
RI 109 210
SC 4,477 21,680
SD 588 116,647
TN 2,941 61,123
TX 2,438 188,352
UT 1,929 227,827
VA 1,103 36,784
VT 28 67
WA 1,116 256,781
WI 1,608 4,611
WV 1,087 37,355
WY 651 279,583
 
Total 92,250 7,393,493

 

 

Wildland Fire Statistics

 

 Total Fires and Acres 1960 - 1999
Year Fires Acres Year Fires Acres
1999 93,702 5,661,976 1979 163,196 2,986,826
1998 81,043 2,329,709 1978 218,842 3,910,913
1997 89,517 3,672,616 1977 173,998 3,152,644
1996 115,025 6,701,390 1976 241,699 5,109,926
1995 130,019 2,315,730 1975 134,872 1,791,327
1994 114,049 4,724,014 1974 145,868 2,879,095
1993 97,031 2,310,420 1973 117,957 1,915,273
1992 103,830 2,457,665 1972 124,554 2,641,166
1991 116,953 2,237,714 1971 108,398 4,278,472
1990 122,763 5,452,874 1970 121,736 3,278,565
1989 121,714 3,261,732 1969 113,351 6,689,081
1988 154,573 7,398,889 1968 125,371 4,231,996
1987 143,877 4,152,575 1967 125,025 4,658,586
1986 139,980 3,308,133 1966 122,500 4,574,389
1985 133,840 4,434,748 1965 113,684 2,652,112
1984 118,636 2,266,134 1964 116,358 4,197,309
1983 161,649 5,080,553 1963 164,183 7,120,768
1982 174,755 2,382,036 1962 115,345 4,078,894
1981 249,370 4,814,206 1961 98,517 3,036,219
1980 234,892 5,260,825 1960 103,387 4,478,188

 

Average Number of Fires and Acres Burned By Decade
Dates Average Number of Fires Average Acres Burned
1919-1929 97,599 26,004,567
1930-1939 167,277 39,143,195
1940-1949 162,050 22,919,898
1950-1959 125,948 9,415,796
1960-1969 119,772 4,571,255
1970-1979 155,112 3,194,421
1980-1989 163,329 4,236,229
1990-1999 106,306 3,647,597

 
Number of Wildland Fires and Acres By Cause
Year Cause Fires Acres
1988 Human
138,238
3,559,021
Lightning
16,335
3,839,868
1989 Human
107,318
2,080,388
Lightning
14,396
1,183,803
1990 Human
105,784
1,735,365
Lightning
16,979
3,719,408
1991 Human
104,777
1,752,179
Lightning
12,164
484,639
1992 Human
89,701
1,408,300
Lightning
14,245
1,048,703
1993 Human
87,725
1,166,355
Lightning
9,305
1,143,063
1994 Human
94,265
1,915,340
Lightning
19,801
2,811,932
1995 Human
120,045
1,454,377
Lightning
9,974
862,218
1996 Human
99,606
3,365,050
Lightning
15,560
3,336,792
1997 Human
79,484
984,683
Lightning
10,033
2,677,674
10-Year Average Human
102,694
1,942,106
Lightning
13,879
2,110,810

 
Suppression Costs for Federal Agencies
Year Bureau of Land Management Bureau of Indian Affairs Fish and Wildlife Service National Park Service USDA Forest Service

Totals

1994
$ 98,417,000
$ 49,202,000
$ 3,281,000
$ 16,362,000
$ 678,000,000
$ 845,262,000
1995
$ 56,600,000
$ 36,219,000
$ 1,675,000
$ 21,256,000
$ 224,300,000
$ 340,050,000
1996
$ 96,854,000
$ 40,779,000
$ 2,600
$ 19,832,000
$ 521,700,000
$ 679,167,600
1997
$ 62,470,000
$ 30,916,000
$ 2,000
$ 6,844,000
$ 155,768,000
$ 256,000,000
1998
$ 63,177,000
$ 27,366,000
$ 3,800,000
$ 19,183,000
$ 215,000,000
$ 328,526,000
1999
$ 85,724,000
$ 42,183,000
$ 4,500,000
$ 30,061,000
$ 361,000,000
$ 523,468,000

 

Click here to see video of a wildland fire fighters true story!

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