Explore Fire in Depth

Fire is an event controlled by fuels (like trees, grasses, and shrubs), weather, and topgraphy / terrain. Fire has existed throughout all time periods, and prior to the appearance of humans in North America, the ingredients for fire were largely controlled by climate.

Since human presence, ignition sources and fuels have been modified; people have changed their environment. As a result, ecosystems have adapted to wildland fires, defined as all fires that burn in natural environments. The natural role of wildland fire, an important ecological force, cannot be ignored, because fire greatly influences ecosystems. Fire's influential role as an ecological force, similar to that of other natural phenomena, such as floods, earthquakes, and hurricanes, is discussed in the following sections.


Featured Topics

  • A sequoia cone and seeds are shown post-fire.
    Fire Ecology

    Fire ecology is a branch of ecology that concentrates on the origins of wildland fire and its relationship to the environment.

  • A firefighter studies the fire in a giant sequoia forest.
    Fire Effects Monitoring

    Research on the effects of fire has been occurring for years in the national parks.

  • Firefighters work on a fire engine in a national park.
    Fire Engines

    Most parks are located away from urban areas and maintain their own wildland fire protection and suppression equipment.

  • Firefighters listen to briefing before responding to a fire.
    Fire Management Personnel

    It takes many different types of people with a variety of skills to manage a fire.

  • Firefighters work to establish contain the spread of a fire.
    Fire Spread and Suppression

    There are three general patterns of fire spread recognized.

  • Extreme atmospheric extreme instability - plume dominated Haines 6 weather pattern
    Fire Weather: Watches & Warnings

    Fire Weather Watches and Red Flag Warnings are used to convey the possibility of severe fire weather to wildland fire agencies.

  • Firefighters create fireline in a national park.
    Fireline Construction

    Fireline is a break in fuel, made by cutting, scraping or digging into the earth.

  • A firefighter removes hazardous fuel from a community.
    Hazardous Fuel Reduction

    Fuel reduction projects and vegetation treatments have been proven as a means of mitigating wildfire hazards.

  • The color of the fire helmet can often determine the ICS position.
    Incident Command System (ICS)

    The Incident Command System is used to manage people and resources during many different types of incidents including fire, rescues, etc.

  • Firefighters from many areas respond to the same incident.
    Incident Command System Levels

    The Incident Command System (ICS) is flexible, scaling up or down as complexity changes and the needs of the incidents change.

  • Fire crews prepare a helicopter for response at moments notice.
    Preparedness Levels

    There are five levels of preparedness typically used at a regional and national level.

  • A firefighter uses a driptorch for prescribing fire.
    Prescribed Fire

    Fire managers may "prescribe" a treatment for resource benefits or research.

  • A firefighter observes a wildfire.
    Understanding Fire Danger

    Combination of both constant and variable factors that affect the initiation, spread, and difficulty to control a wildfire on an area.

  • A firefighter stands next to the point of origin of an escaped campfire.
    Wildfire Causes and Evaluation

    Wildfires can be caused by nature, such as lava or lightning, but most are caused by humans.

Last updated: May 4, 2022