Search This Blog

Monday, September 15, 2014

Final mentee for 2014- Chris Stetson

Chris Stetson, a fire planner/fuels specialist on the Coronado National Forest, was our final mentee for fire season 2014.  He assisted us with many projects including: reviewing NWCG WFDSS modules, assisting a researcher with a project evaluating extreme fire behavior, building an acronym/glossary list for the Rocky Mountain Center webpage, modeling local future Rx burns, and reviewing 2015 Red Book updates.  He also provided Near Term and Short Term fire behavior analysis for the Happy Camp Complex in Northern California; providing them with valuable information to assess potential options.   Chris was excellent to work and we would enjoy working with him again.  Thank you Chris. 

BLM Mentee Kristy Swartz

BLM Mentee Kristy Swartz, a zone fuels program lead for the Prineville District BLM and the Ochoco National Forest completed a 2 week mentee assignment with the WFM RD&A.  Her first week she was busy supporting 2 fires in the Northern Rockies (Rain Complex and Johnson Bar) and one fire in Eastern Great Basin (Woodtick).  She provided Near Term Fire Behavior modeling and FSPro to all three fires.   Kristy also assisted the RDA with numerous projects including: reviewing new WFDSS modules for NWCG courses, testing the WFDSS Training site as it moved to a new server location, building an acronym and glossary list for the Rocky Mountain Center webpage (, and she supported her local unit with misc. WFDSS decision support.  Kristy was an excellent mentee and we enjoyed working with her.  She recently accepted a new position as a fire planner with the BLM at NIFC.  Good luck Kristy in your new position.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Welcome to Jo Ann Fites-Kaufman - 120 day detailer with WFM RD&A

Jo Ann Fites-Kaufman, Regional Planning Ecologist for the US Forest Service Pacific Southwest Region, will be joining us for a detail beginning August 25. As developer and lead of the Fire Behavior Assessment Team, she has conducted monitoring and assessments of fire behavior during active wildfires across the country for over 10 years. The team specialized on measuring effectiveness of fuel treatments and crown fire. She developed a simple application for the canyon fire acceleration model from Dr. Viegas in Portugal, testing and applying to sudden changes and extreme fire behavior on near miss and fatality fires. While head of the Adaptive Management Services Enterprise Team, she led teams working on fire management planning, fuel monitoring and assessments, and fire effects assessments. Currently, she is working on a team revising three forest plans under the new 2012 planning rule in California. This includes incorporating plan components that can be moved directly into WFDSS as strategic objectives and plan requirements, designed to work on managed fires. During her detail, she will be working with other members of the WFMRD&A group to: evaluate past and existing incident objectives; find good examples; develop good examples; and create training material or a user's guide to improve development of incident objectives that are specific, useful, and tier to unit plans.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Tell Us Your Best Fire Story!


Understanding Wildland Fire Behavior Project

This project is to find out how wildland firefighters experienced unexpected or extreme wildfire behavior in the past through right now, in this current fire season.
To do this, we need your stories about wildfire behavior and to answer questions about your stories to understand how wildfire behavior has changed and what that means for wildland firefighters. quote-sml
This project comes out the phrase that many of you have probably heard, along the lines of  "I've never seen a fire act like that before" or "I see a lot more of that kind of fire behavior now."
This will take about 5 minutes or so, and if you want to know more about the stories we collect and what we find out, there is a link at the end of the questions to submit a request for information.
Thanks for taking the time to tell us your story
You can tell us your story via website or download the mobile apps for iPhone/iPad or Android
Website url:
Mobile Apps for both IOS and Android:IOS:      

NPS Mentee Jennifer Adams

Jennifer Adams, Fuels Specialist for the Everglades National Park worked as a mentee with the WFM RD&A from July 27th through August 9th.  She is a GSAN, GISS, and LTAN(t) and assisted with project work and fire analysis.  Jennifer provided a review of WFDSS related NWCG coursework materials.  She also completed Short Term Fire Behavior analysis to support contingency planning for a planned Type 1 burn on the Nez Perce N.F.   She provided timely analysis to the Staley Complex (Willamette N.F.) the Avocado Creek Fire (Everglades N.P.), and the East Mountain Fire (Idaho Dept. of Lands).  Analysis included Short Term Fire Behavior, Near Term Fire Behavior, and FSPro.  Jennifer was a great mentee and did an outstanding job.  Thank you for the excellent work Jennifer- we hope to work with you again.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

USGS Mentee Kurtis Nelson

Kurtis, Wildland Fire Science Team leader for the USGS, completed a variety of projects while a Mentee for the WFM RD&A. His insight and technical knowledge of LANDFIRE data was a win win for both sides; it helped him successfully complete analysis for the Lone Mountain fire (North Cascade NP) as well as help the RD&A improve LANDFIRE-related WFDSS online help through recommended edits. He also reviewed multiple WFDSS modules for use in NWCG courses, updated Unit 3- Fuel Model training content for S390, and started to develop a list of glossary items for the Rocky Mountain Center Fire Weather website. Kurtis was our first Mentee from the USGS and we hope to support additional mentees from the agency in the future. Thanks for all your work Kurtis!

Saturday, July 12, 2014

First Mentee for Fire Season 2014

Allan Hepworth, a Fire Planner for the Francis Marion and Sumter National Forest, was the WFM RD&A's first Mentee in 2014. Allan worked with us from June 30th through July 12th. As both an FBAN and LTAN trainee, Allan had a variety of operational and analytical skills that helped him develop analysis products for two incidents and successfully complete a variety of projects. Allan developed Near Term Fire Behavior outputs for the Diego Fire on the Santa Fe NF and Short Term Fire Behavior outputs for the Rodgers River fire in Everglades NP. He collected feedback for the RMC fire weather website, provided time-sensitive data verification for incident information in WFDSS and the EGP, and created 508 compliant video transcripts for multiple WFDSS training videos. Allan's positive attitude and initiative were an asset to both the successful completion of his mentee assignment and to the WFM RD&A, in helping us meet goals and objectives. Thanks Allan, for your help and for a job well done!

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Technology Transfer Specialist Vacancy Filled

We are pleased to announce the selection of Reginald (Reggie) Goolsby for our Fire Technology Transfer Specialist Position.  We are excited to have Reggie as he comes with a unique set of skills and clear passion for transferring technology and research to the field.  Reggie was a journalist for a New York Times Company newspaper for several years before receiving his Masters Degree in Forestry (Fire Ecology concentration) from Clemson University. Goolsby is also a programmer and a database manager. He has independently developed desktop software, web based modeling applications and mobile device apps to assist with fire effects monitoring and wildland fire and fuels planning.  Reggie transferred to us in late June from his current position as a forester and fire ecologist at the Francis and Marion and Sumpter National Forest in South Carolina. He is currently detailing for the Redmond Hotshots and will be completing his tour of duty with them this summer.  Welcome to the team Reggie.

Thanks for the Great Work

Phil Graeve, previously a Lead Fire Monitor with Northern Great Plains Fire Management but now a Fuels Technician with the Payette National Forest, detailed with the WFM RD&A from January 20th- March 28th, 2014.  Phil assisted the RD&A with multiple projects including:  Growing Season Index (GSI) investigation for adjustments to WFDSS, identifying fires of interest for further research, fire behavior model output analysis and investigations into model improvements, evaluation of the Interagency Fuels Decision Support System.   Phil dove head first into difficult projects and his work was of great importance and will be applied toward fulfilling our mission of transferring useful science and technology to wildland fire managers.  Thanks for your contributions to the WFM RD&A.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Detailer Improves WFDSS Training Materials

Jhen Rawling, a fuels technician on the Bridger-Teton National Forest, detailed to the WFM RD&A Feb. 18th-April 11th, 2014.  She worked with Diane Rau to help update the WFDSS 101 series of training lessons. These lessons are available online from the WFDSS website, and are a primary source of learning for WFDSS users.  As a relatively new user, Jhen's objective view of the application and training materials was an asset and she provided valuable insight as a result.  She noted discrepancies between the lesson and WFDSS online help, and recommended changes and additions to clarify existing help content.  Jhen came to our team with some knowledge and background in WFDSS but her detail helped grow her skills so she can be an even greater asset to her home unit. Our hope is that she can actively engage in WFDSS documentation and help train other users in its use as well.  Thanks Jhen.

Monday, June 30, 2014

Bringing Back the Best

Liz Struhar, Fire Planning Specialist for the National Park Service Southeast Region, will join the WFM RD&A team again this year.  Her detail begins June 30.  As a planning specialist she supports parks with Fire Management Plan revisions, contracts, Wilderness Minimum Requirements Analyses and Environmental Compliance needs. She also works with budget allocation models and provides some wildfire decision support assistance to parks.  Liz will work for the RD&A through mid August.  She will be working virtually out of her North Florida office for the majority of her detail.  Liz will be working on implementing a prototype Fire Planning and Fuels Management Resource Portal (a website) that is part of a joint effort assigned through the NWCG Interagency Fire Planning Committee and the Fuels Committee.  This Resource Portal is intended to bring together information for Fuels Specialists and Fire Planners to help them locate resources related to challenges they face in their day to day planning tasks as well as a variety of "toolboxes" and career development information to aid in keeping up with ever changing technology and management practices. Liz will also be assisting the WFM RD&A on other projects related to WFDSS and Risk-based decision making. We are looking forward to having Liz as part of our team. 

Friday, June 27, 2014

Lead Fire Application Specialist Vacancies Filled

The WFM RD&A is pleased to announce the selections for two Lead Fire Application Specialist positions, Mark Hale and Caroline Noble.  Both began working for the WFM RD&A June 16th- Welcome Mark and Caroline.

Mark Hale on the fire line
Mark comes to us from the Superior National Forest in Minnesota where he served as a Fire Planner and as the Eastern Region Geographic Area Editor for WFDSS for the last 6 years.  Mark has been in fire since 1991 and previously worked as a hotshot and held positions such as Assistant Station Manager, Fuels technician, Fuels Specialist, Forest Aviation Officer, and acted as Forest AFMO, Forest FMO and Regional Fire Operations.  He has an A.S. in Recreation and Wildlife from Hocking Technical College, a B.S. in Fisheries Resources from the University of Idaho, and completed Technical Fire Management in 2006.  Mark will serve in one of our National Fire Decision Support Lead Analyst positions, providing support to decision-makers on wildfires as well as conducting tech transfer duties.

Caroline will be transferring to us from the National Park Service Southern Region where she has served as the Southeast Regional Fire Ecologist for the past fourteen years.  She has previously worked as a Hotshot, Fuels Specialist, Prescribed Fire Specialist, and Assistant Fire Management Officer for both the NPS and the Forest Service.   She has a B.S in Natural Resources from Cornell University and a Masters in Silviculture from the University of Idaho.  Caroline will serve as the lead for our Fuels Program as well as provide support to tech transfer initiatives.  Caroline resides in Tallahassee FL.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

WFM RD&A Participates in Mann Gulch Staff Ride

Man Gulch fire Staff Ride participantsMembers of the WFM RD&A participated in a facilitated Staff Ride of the Mann Gulch fire along with the NWCG Fire Behavior Subcommittee and members of the Missoula Fire Science Laboratory, May 18th.  13 firefighters lost their lives on the Mann Gulch fire, reported August 5, 1949 on the Helena National Forest.  15 smoke jumpers and 1 fire guard were caught on the steep gulch slopes when the fire spotted across the drainage below them.  1 fire fighter (Crew Boss Wag Dodge) survived by lying in the ashes of a fire he set in advance of the main fire (an unfamiliar technique at the time).  2 others survived by running to the top of the ridge and taking refuge in the rocky scree slopes on the other side.  Sadly the remaining 13 died as they tried to run from the fire.  The tragedy was a catalyst that set in motion many changes in fire management and research.  The insight gained from walking in the steps of the men that died at Mann Gulch provide powerful lessons in crew dynamics, the fire environment, and fire behavior still today.  

Monday, May 26, 2014

Staff Participate in Conference

The WFM RD&A Staff participated in the Association of Fire Ecology and the International Association of Wildland Fires Large Wildland Fires: Social, Political and Ecological Effects conference, May 19-23rd 2014, in Missoula Montana.  Staff gave oral and poster presentations, organized and moderated special sessions, hosted workshops, and staffed the WFM RD&A booth.  Here are the details: 

  • Lisa Elenz and Marlena Hovorka- presented on Integrating Fuel Treatments  in Land Management Planning and Wildfire Incident ResponseErin Noonan-Wright and Dan Mindar- hosted a workshop on Advanced Fire Behavior Analysis, Through Lessons Learned
  • Erin Noonan-Wright- cohosted a workshop on Defining Fuel Treatments Success: Workflows, Metrics, and Evaluation
  • Tami Parkinson- organized and moderated a special session on The Evolution of Fire Behavior Analysis and Management of Large, Long duration Incidents as Experienced on the Mustang Complex
  • Ben Butler- gave an oral and poster presentation on An investigation of LandScan Suitability for Strategic Decision Making in the Wildland Fire Decision Support System
  • Tim Sexton- presented on the Evolution of Decision Making
  • Mitch Burgard- presented on the Strategic Operational Planner (SOPL)
  • Morgan Pence and Kim Ernstrom- organized and moderated a special session on Wildfire Risk Assessment and Decision Support
  • Lisa Elenz- presented on Strategic Decision Making for Wildfires using a Risk Management Process
  • Erin Noonan-Wright and Tonja Opperman- presented on Applying the Wildland Fire Decision Support System to Support Risk-Informed Wildland Fire Decision Making: the Gold Plan Fire, Bitteroot National Forest, Montana
  • Sam Amato- gave a poster presentation on Fire Perimeter Delineation and Reconstruction from Geo Referenced Photographs Using Google Earth Pro

Friday, February 14, 2014

Overview of 2013 Southwestern Fire Season Publication

The Southwest Fire Science Consortium and Northern Arizona University, Ecological Restoration Institute collaborated on the writing of this overview. Below is an excerpt from the article's introduction.
Read the full publication at:

"Each year numerous fires burn through the Southwest, and even for fire managers and researchers it can be difficult
to keep the details of each fire straight. The public hears a great deal about fires as they burn, but rarely do they see follow up information on burn severity or comparisons between fires. This report is an attempt to fill the need for

a concise, timely publication that summarizes the season’s fire details in the Southwest. The goal of this overview is
to provide a single source for information on the 2013 fire season for quick reference and to move the conversation beyond the simplistic “acres burned.” More specifically, this report describes the vegetation impacted by each fire and the degree to which fires affect resources including soils, vegetation and structures."

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Recent Praise for Spatial Fire Planning Process in WFDSS

The Spatial Fire Planning Process that was recently added to WFDSS has expanded the functionality of the application and given the users greater flexibility to represent the intricacies of their Fire/Land/Resource Management Plans. The WFM RD&A recently received the following feedback praising the new feature and we thought we'd share it here...

"In my opinion the move to the Spatial Fire Planning module of WFDSS was a much better way to display and implement the forest plan direction vs. using FMUs. Classifying LRMP Management Area objectives as strategic objectives and Management Prescription Category guidelines and standards as management requirements was a relatively simple exercise.  Perhaps the more significant benefit of converting to spatial fire planning is that policies have changed substantially in the last few years both nationally and locally. Stand-alone policies specific to retardant avoidance, sage grouse, aquatic invasives,  mitigating impacts to T&E species, and others have or will become major constraints relevant to most fires. In my opinion that has uncovered a deficiency in the FMU concept in that common ground for the LRMP objectives, guidelines, and standards sometimes doesn’t align with the areas covered by other policies. Essentially, the lumping and splitting process done to consolidate the appropriate forest plan guidance into an FMU doesn’t work on retardant avoidance areas or sage grouse priority habitat. The advantage of Spatial Fire Planning is that you can include everything, and efficiently filter through what is relevant once a planning area for incident is defined."

Fore more information about the Spatial Fire Planning Process check out the WFDSS Spatial Fire Planning Guide.

Data Sharing Leads to Powerful Tools for Fighting Fire

The WFM RD&A focuses on providing information that improves decision-making on fires.  Few things are as powerful as the combination of information on where a fire is likely to go (fire behavior modeling) and what things that the fire is likely to impact (values at risk).  The WFM RD&A gathers information on values at risk from a variety of sources. Among the most important are local government datasets depicting building locations, which are often built from addressing and tax parcel, or "cadastral", data.  Recently, Emergency  Management magazine published an article about the cadastral data partnership in which the WFM RD&A is engaged. This partnership engages federal partners from within the wildland fire research and operations communities, non-fire federal agencies with aligned goals, and state and local government entities to build datasets that improve decision-making and contribute to public and firefighter safety.  The article was authored by WFM RD&A employees Andrew Bailey, Data Manager, and Benjamin Butler, GIS Specialist.