Fire Ecology - Minimizing Impacts

On all wildland fire management actions, use of Minimum Impact Suppression Tactics is the policy of the National Park Service.

The concept of Minimum Impact Tactics (MIT) is to use the minimum amount of forces necessary to effectively achieve the fire management protection objectives consistent with land and resource management objectives. It implies a greater sensitivity to the impacts of suppression tactics and their long-term effects when determining how to implement an appropriate suppression response. In some cases MIT may indicate cold trailing or wet line may be more appropriate than constructed hand line. In another example, the use of an excavator may be used rather than a dozer. Individual determinations will be dependent on the specific situation and circumstances of each fire.

MIT is not intended to represent a separate or distinct classification of firefighting tactics but rather a mind set of how to suppress a wildfire while minimizing the long-term effects of the suppression action. When the term MIT is used in this document it reflects the above principle.

Suppression actions on all wildfires within Point Reyes National Seashore protected wilderness will be those having a minimum impact on the physical resources associated with each site. In so doing, the principle of fighting fire aggressively but providing for safety first will not be compromised.

The key challenge to the line officer, fire manager and firefighter is to be able to select the wildfire suppression tactics that are appropriate given the fire's probable or potential behavior. The guiding principle is always least cost plus loss while meeting land and resource management objectives. It is the second part of this statement which must be recognized more than it has in the past. Appreciation of the values associated with wilderness has been more difficult to articulate but, nevertheless, are important. As this recognition emerges, actions must be modified to accommodate a new awareness of them.

These actions, or MIT, may result in an increase in the amount of time spent watching, rather than disturbing, a dying fire to insure it does not rise again. They may also involve additional rehabilitation measures on the site that were not previously carried out.

When selecting an appropriate suppression response, firefighter safety must remain the highest concern. In addition, fire managers must be assured the planned actions will be effective and will remain effective over the expected duration of the fire.

The goal of MIT is to halt or delay fire spread in order to maintain the fire within predetermined parameters while producing the least possible impact on the resource being protected. These parameters are represented by the initial attack incident commander's size-up of the situation in the case of a new start or by the escaped fire situation analysis (EFSA) in case of an escaped fire.

It is important to consider probable rehabilitation need as a part of selecting the appropriate suppression response. Tactics that reduce the need for rehab are preferred whenever feasible.

See also the related topic of BAER - Burned Area Emergency Response.

The Resource Advisor (READ) guide is intended to be used as a tool by resource advisors in the event of a suppression incident at Point Reyes National Seashore. This document contains recommended guidelines for fires within the Point Reyes National Seashore jurisdictional area.
Draft Wildland Fire Resource Advisor Guide - July 2007 (2,436 KB PDF)

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Last updated: February 28, 2015

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