Wildland Fire Science in the Classroom

On May 1, 2012, National Park Service Fire Communication and Education Specialist Michelle Fidler presented six 50-minute programs for 8th-grade science classes, about 155 students total, at the Emily Gray Junior High School in Tucson, Arizona. Topics included fire science, fire ecology, wildland fire management, prescribed fire, and fire careers. The outreach program taught students about the need to restore and maintain resilient landscapes, create fire-adapted communities, and effectively respond to wildfire.

Students submitted Post-it notes describing what they had learned.

Their comments included the following: I learned…

  • There are two kinds of fire: wildfire (unplanned) and prescribed fire (planned).
  • Fire needs three things to burn: fuel, heat, and oxygen.
  • Fire is always different based on where it is.
  • Fire burns quicker uphill.
  • Most of Saguaro National Park’s fires are caused by lightning.
  • For purposely set fires a fireline is created, which is soil without fuel, so that the fire does not burn out of limits.
  • They [firefighters] use [belt weather] kits to test weather.
  • They [firefighters] use slurry to put the fire down to the ground so that the fire people can put them out.
  • They [fire managers] prescribe fires to make sure a forest stays healthy.
  • In the forest, fire can be good to keep fuel from building up and becoming a hazard to fuel large and dangerous forest fires.
  • Ponderosa pine trees shed their lower branches as they grow as part of their adaptation to fire.
  • Fire in the desert causes a lot of damage.
  • Buffelgrass burns faster than most people can run.

To learn more about fire management at Saguaro National Park, visit the park's fire management program page.

Contact: Michelle Fidler, fire communication and education specialist
Email: e-mail us
Phone: (520) 733-5136

Last updated: December 14, 2017