Wildland Fire: For Teachers

A firefighter talks with students in a classroom. All their arms are raised in a stretch.
A firefighter talks with students in a classroom near Saguaro National Park.


Why Fire Education?

Fire is an interesting subject for students to explore; it is as common as a match and as complex as a high-rise building on fire. Because of familiarity, this everyday concept has the potential to become a superlative concept with strong possibilities for student interest and interaction.

Fire is an appropriate subject to be included in physical, biological, and chemical science courses. Teachers working with students on values-clarification, social science, and economic units also may find that wildland fire is an excellent mechanism to help explore these broad issues. A teacher can lead students involved in planning and performing a skit about wildfire or conducting a role-playing public hearing on fire management policies to explore a wide array of social, economic, and biological issues facing society each day.

Wildland fire and similar conservation-related topics can bring together students' science, social studies, math, and language arts skills. This can provide a situation in which students refine their problem-solving skills and explore what they value and believe. Out of these types of classroom explorations come students who understand conservation issues in the broadest sense of the term.

Students practice with handheld water pumps while learning about fire.
Students practice with handheld water pumps while learning about fire in Tumacacori National Historical Park.

NPS Photo

Teacher Overview

The fire ecology information and lessons include background information for educators, sources of further information for educators, learner background information, activities, lesson plans and a glossary of fire terms.

These curriculum materials may be used at any point in the year. Late summer / early fall may be preferable because of the likelihood of a wildland fire during this time (i.e., the end of the fire season in many parts of the United States). If fires occur locally or there is media coverage of a wildland fire, you could use these as examples. Discussing news reporting methods and other burning questions surrounding this natural phenomenon would be most appropriate.

Park Specific Fire Curricula

Several national parks have developed specific curricula to help teach students about wildland fire and its role in park ecology.These curriculum materials are grade specific and stress the importance of understanding fire ecology.

Last updated: August 7, 2018