FIRE SCIENCE DIGEST ISSUE 9 APRIL 2011Introduction
Today’s professional re career involves far more than putting out res.Managing re within landscapes for ecological and social benets is a complicated,data-intensive, and socially demanding profession. To be adequately prepared,a re professional needs education, training, and experience in re science, re ecology, andre management, as well as operational skills in wildre and prescribed re.Challenges to achieving well-rounded preparation include a legacy of separate preparationpathways, demographics of the current workforce, scheduling and credentialing issues,and recent changes to agency educational requirements.With help from the Joint Fire Science Program (JFSP), agencies and universitiesare working together to ll the gaps in education, training, and experience—the three sides of the professional development triangle—so that future re professionalswill be adequately prepared for the challenging tasks they will face.
in California. ÒWeÕre still in a transitional phase, still
growing our understanding of how re ts into the
land management process. WeÕre not there yet.Ó
What does it mean to “manage” re today?
Suppression is still an essential part of the job, butseveral important tasks have been added. Here is a
succinct denition: “Fire management [is] a designatedcombination of re suppression and re utilization,
based on increased
understanding of rebehavior and re ecology.”Fire managers must knowhow to suppress re when
appropriate, but also how touse it deliberately to createdesired conditions on theland.
The above denition comes from a 2009 Journalof Forestry article
that surveys the pathways by
which re managers become qualied to do their jobs.
Sugihara is a coauthor of the article, along with several
others involved in re education and professional
training. In its funding of research and extended
education, the JFSP is contributing to improve these
pathways and open new ones.
Sculpting the landscape
What does today’s wildland re professional looklike? The job description, says Sugihara, blends thedisciplines of re science (the understanding of re as
Kobziar, L.N., M.E. Rocca, C.A. Dicus, C. Hoffman, N. Sugihara, A.E. Thode, J.M. Varner, and P. Morgan. 2009. Challenges toeducating the next generation of wildland re professionals in theUnited States. Journal of Forestry 107 (7): 339-345.
As scientists have come to recognize
re’s essential role in ecosystemdynamics, managing re for ecological and social benets hasbecome more complicated.
Heather Heward, a student in re ecology and management at theUniversity of Idaho.
Fire’s essential role
Managing re on the nation’s forests and
rangelands has never been easy, but it used to be
relatively simple. For most of the 20th century, themain objective in dealing with re was to put it out—period. Fire was viewed as a menace to the well-laid
plans of human managers.As scientists have come
to recognize re’s essential
role in ecosystem dynamics,
managing re for ecologicaland social benets has
become more complicated.ÒThereÕs been a lot of change
in how we work with re
in ecosystems,Ósays Neil
Sugihara, a U.S. Forest Service (USFS) re ecologist
G a b r i e l C o r t e z