Kamiah Idaho – November 6, 2023 – A new Fire Danger Operating Plan (FDOP) was recently signed by the interagency partners of the Grangeville Dispatch Area (see attachment #1). Agency Administrators from the Idaho Department of Lands (IDL), Bureau of Land Management (BLM), Clearwater-Potlatch Timber Protective Association (C-PTPA), Nez Perce Tribe (NPT), Private, and U.S. Forest Service (USFS) came together to update this plan that is the basis for establishing local firefighter staffing levels and communicating current wildfire fire danger to the public.
A fire danger operating plan is a guide for agency users at the local level that is revisited and updated annually by all the interagency partners in the Grangeville Dispatch Area. A fire danger operating plan documents the establishment and management of the local unit fire weather system and incorporates fire danger modeling into local unit fire management decisions. This plan also helps delineate Fire Danger Rating Areas (FDRAs) in areas with similar climate, vegetation, and topography (see attachment #2) and determine Smokey’s Adjective Fire Danger Rating scale (LOW to EXTREME) to inform public user groups of potential fire danger in each area.
“Fire Danger is the correlation of weather and fire history to help predict when we may have extreme fire behavior and in turn make more informed risk management decisions to prevent firefighter fatalities like in Mann Gulch and South Canyon fires”, says Raechel Compton, Fire Planner for the Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forests. Compton has helped to coordinate the plan re-write, which has been a 6-month effort working closely with interagency fire partners to articulate their local knowledge and understanding of fire behavior into fire danger analytics. Compton also stated, “The rewrite of the FDOP will allow for greater confidence in our local fire danger rating for many years, and it sets up our interagency fire community at a baseline that we can continue to adapt and grow from and make better informed decisions”.
This plan is intended to document a decision-making process for agency administrators, fire program managers, fire operations specialists, dispatchers, agency co-operators, and firefighters by establishing interagency planning and response levels using the best available scientific methods and historical weather/fire data. It helps to establish criteria and thresholds by monitoring/tracking current fuel and weather conditions. This can help interagency fire managers track trends and keep staffing levels appropriate or implement fire restrictions in designated areas to prevent accidental human starts during times of peak fire danger.
An appropriate level of preparedness to meet wildland fire management objectives is based upon an assessment of vegetation, climate, and topography utilizing the National Fire Danger Rating System (NFDRS). This plan provides a science-based “tool” for interagency fire managers to incorporate a measure of risk associated with decisions which have the potential to significantly compromise safety and control of wildland fires.