5th Symposium on Fire and Forest Meteorology and the 2nd International Wildland Fire Ecology and Fire Management Congress

Tuesday, 18 November 2003: 4:00 PM
An Event-Frame Model for Decomposition and Reconstruction of Large-Fire Decision Processes
Donald G. MacGregor, MacGregor-Bates, Inc., Eugene, OR; and A. Gonzalez-Caban
Poster PDF (143.0 kB)
Of the thousands of fires that occur each year on publicly managed lands, the vast majority are suppressed by initial actions undertaken by the local administrative unit. However, on relatively rare occasions fires become exceptionally large and can result in enormous resource and financial impacts, even the loss of life. Understanding how to better manage such large fires and to develop better methods of controlling their costs and impacts requires a detailed knowledge of the decision making processes that were ongoing at the time of the incident. At present, a methodology for the post-fire reconstruction of large-fire decision processes does not exist. Such a methodology would decompose a fire incident into identifiable decisions that can be represented in terms of values at risk, decision alternatives, expected costs, and expected outcomes. In addition, it would provide a model of the information environment present at succeeding incident stages and that frames the decision processes of fire management personnel.

This paper reviews analytical approaches from the decision and risk sciences as a basis for developing a model for decomposing and reconstructing large-fire decision processes that leads to a better understanding of how fire management can be modified and improved. The approaches reviewed include event/fault tree analysis, influence diagrams, decision analysis, multiattribute utility analysis (MAU), and other models based on decision process tracing methodologies. Based on this review, the paper develops a preliminary model for incident decomposition and reconstruction based on the concept of an “Event-Frame Model” by which a sequential set of “Event Frames” are defined by temporal and contextual factors, and that lead to a visual representation of an incident decomposition. The set of event frames decomposes an incident into discrete units of analysis that can incorporate other models or processes to describe elements of a fire incident. Discrete event frames can incorporate a decision analysis model that represents alternatives, objectives, and consequences present at a particular point in a fire incident, where the point can be defined temporally (e.g., a given time mark) or contextually as defined by an event-frame trigger (e.g., a management team transition). The choice of temporal and contextual elements that establish a sequence of event frames for an incident are in part a function of incident characteristics and in part a function of the granularity needed for the decomposition. The Event-Frame Modeling approach provides a visual representation by which complex incidents can be decomposed into analyzable units that aid in the identification of factors contributing to resource allocations and incident costs.

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