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

Wednesday, 19 November 2003: 11:30 AM
The 2003 National Seasonal Assessment Workshop: A Proactive Approach to Preseason Fire Danger Assessment
Gregg M. Garfin, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ; and T. Wordell, T. J. Brown, R. Ochoa, and B. J. Moorehouse
Poster PDF (519.1 kB)
Millions of acres are burned each year by wildland fires, in spite of much effort going into fuel treatments, prevention, and fire suppression. An array of effective decision-support products, tools, and processes is needed to anticipate regional resource needs, improve resource allocation decisions and maintain a high standard of safety for firefighters and the public. In order to effect a change from reactive to proactive fire management, forecast tools and fuels assessments that can provide a well-informed, science-based, preseason assessment of fire danger are necessary. Moreover, a willingness to adopt a long-range view in assessing fire danger is necessary in order to capitalize on seasonal forecast skill resulting from relationships between wildland fire, persistent climate patterns, such as El Niņo-Southern Oscillation, and fuel conditions.

Based on synergistic thinking with regard to climate and proactive fire management, NICC Predictive Services, CLIMAS (University of Arizona), and CEFA (Desert Research Institute) convened the first annual National Seasonal Assessment Workshop (NSAW) to produce preseason fire danger outlooks for each of the 11 predictive services geographic areas. During the week of February 25-28, 2003, climatologists, predictive service units, and fire managers from across the country came together to work on preseason outlooks as part of a process structured to foster communication, share expertise, and enhance understanding of long-range forecasts, climate and fuels conditions.

The tangible products of the NSAW included the following: · Geographic area wildland fire outlook reports · NICC preseason national wildland fire outlook · 2003 consensus climate forecasts for wildland fire management · Standardized protocols for producing long-range fire danger outlooks

The workshop process provided a model and mechanism for increasing organizational capacity, enhancing multiagency collaboration, improving the use of forecast information and climatological analysis, and transitioning the results of research to an operational process for improved communication and decision making. In this paper we review the the design of the workshop, summarize the outcomes to date, and discuss steps necessary to improve regional preseason fire danger outlooks.

Supplementary URL: