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The Art of Wildland Firefighting[1]

The Art of Wildland Firefighting[1]

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Published by FG Summer

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Published by: FG Summer on Dec 06, 2011
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1
The Art Of Wildland Firefighting
A working paper detailing the Campbell Prediction System, (CPS) consisting of selecting thecorrect information from observations, using logic to rank the importance of informationand language to explain and express the desired outcome.
Doug CampbellWildland Fire Specialists, LLC1210 Sunset Pl. Ojai, Ca. 93023Voice: (805) 646-7026Fax: (805) 646-8690E-Mail: doug@dougsfire.comBruce SchubertAeroComputers, Inc.2889 W 5
th
Street #111Oxnard, CA 93003805-985-3390E-Mail: bruce@aerocomputers.com
Abstract
 
Wildland firefighters face variations in fire behavior that can be predicable, butunfortunately, too many fire fighters lack the training and knowledge to foreseethese changes, resulting in unsafe and/or ineffective tactics that can lead to burnover accidents and/or the inefficient use of resources. The development of areliable prediction system that would mitigate these problems included drawingupon the first hand experiences of seasoned fire fighters, investigating thecommonalities in burnover accident reports, analyzing and challenging fireweather and fuel moisture concepts, developing and field testing prediction andtactics on wildland fires and prescribed burns. The Campbell Prediction Systemhas been developed to explain how fire fighters can make predictions of firebehavior changes that may occur at any time, and make these predictions while onthe fireline. This prediction system has been field-tested and validated on wildlandfires and has prevented deaths and injuries of fire fighters from burnovers.
Introduction
Wildland firefighters face variations in fire behavior that occur under all firedanger situations. Some firefighters instinctively know when and where the
 
2variations may occur. Unfortunately, firefighters who do not know these thingshave a reduced situational awareness. Many burnover situations could have beenavoided had they known how dangerous the fire potential was, and had they toldothers how they knew. Reading accident reports from the 1949 Mann Gulchthrough the 2006 Esperanza fires reveals that had the simple knowledge of whenand where the variation was about to occur would have made a difference.
 It isbetter to leave early, rather than to stay until the fire runs you out.
 The Campbell Prediction System (CPS) is a practical way to use on-sceneobservations to determine fire behavior strategies and tactics. With the CampbellPrediction System, logic replaces intuition, allowing an explanation of how tacticsare developed. Scientific research combined with the knowledge of the successfulfirefighters' methods and practices are used to explain fire behavior. In thesesituations the observed fire behavior becomes the baseline, or signature, for firebehavior predictions.The Campbell Prediction System enables you to:
 
Identify and use the correct information to make fire behavior predictions
 
Explain how you arrived at your prediction of fire behavior change
 
Choose the tactic or strategy to utilize and explain how it was selected
 
Display and communicate the predicted fire behavior on a mapLogic allows an explanation of what the fire is telling you, and reasoned tacticsmaintain effectiveness and safety.
The Situation
Wildfire suppression tactics are sometimes unsafe and can result in injuries and/orfatalities from burnovers. Prescribed burning projects sometimes escape controldue to poor planning or execution.
(1)
Tactics fail as a result of fire behaviorpredictions that are either not made or are inaccurate.
(2)
Why do these eventsoccur?Firefighters do not have a simple and reliable method to assess the fire andfireground situations. Firefighters are taught to think about suppressing the fireand not to think logically of how the fire could thwart their plan. The firefighter'semotional hook to
 fight fire
to often outweighs a logical approach and can lead toaccidents. Firefighters that cannot explain the factors that cause fires to transitionfrom controllable to beyond human control are more at risk.
 
3Current training points to a dependence on staying informed of the air temperature,relative humidity, and the forecast wind direction and speed. These aregeneralities that are not specific to time and place; this data is not the bestinformation to base a tactical plan on. Unfortunately, most scenarios use these firedanger elements and incorrectly expect that accurate fire behavior predictions canbe made.Statistics show that there is a weakness in the training of firefighters. Many rulesand fixes for the problem have been implemented with no significant reduction inburnovers. Accident reports assign causes of fatalities to these weaknesses. Someblame it on attitude or leadership deficiencies. Others blame it on failure to obeythe rules and
watch outs.
 
(3)
Reducing the rate of burnover and shelterdeployments will require a new approach.
Figure 1.
Burnover Fatalities for Federal Firefighters (4 a)

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