310842 Increasing National Weather Service Fire Weather Support to Wildland Fire Initial Attack Teams

Tuesday, 24 January 2017
4E (Washington State Convention Center )
Jason M. Clapp, NWS, Sacramento, CA

Federal, state, local, and tribal government wildland fire management agencies, in partnership with agencies like the National Weather Service (NWS), expect wildfire disasters every year. Although the role of the NWS Incident Meteorologist (IMET) is utilized during larger Type I or II incidents, IMETs are underutilized during the Initial Attack phase of wildland firefighting. Eighty-eight firefighter burnover fatalities occurred across thirty-four Initial Attack wildland fire incidents since 1990 without an assigned IMET. Absent a deployed IMET, wildland fire Incident Commanders rely on web-based spot weather forecasts which often lack the necessary intimate operational interaction. The NWS must collaborate with fire management agencies to become Weather-Ready partners and request IMETs on Initial Attack incidents, as well as, incorporate more fire weather forecasters to assist with wildland firefighter weather training. Maybe deployed IMETs during previous Initial Attack incidents could have helped prevent burnover fatalities.
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