Some have interpreted the Chief’s 2/20/13 fire letter as loosening last year’s ban on “let burn” fires. A closer look at the fine print suggests that’s not only easier said than done, but might not have even been said.
Here’s the relevant direction: “Line officers desiring to use wildland fire as an essential ecological process and natural change agent must follow the Seven Standards for Managing Incident Risk to the highest level of performance and accountability.”
And, “To be clear, Standards 1, 2, 3 and 4 need to be completed pre-season.”
Standards 1, 2, 3 and 4 are:
1. Complete an Incident Risk Assessment
Develop an assessment of what is at risk (from preseason work or input from key stakeholders for boundary incidents), probabilities of harm, and possible mitigations.
2. Complete a Risk Analysis
Consider alternatives (objectives, strategies and tactics) against desired outcomes, respondent exposure, probability of success, and values to be protected.
3. Complete Two-Way Risk Communications
Engage community leaders, local government officials, partners, and other key stakeholders associated with the incident to share the risk picture and enlist input.
4. Conduct Risk Sharing Dialogue ( using “Red Book”, Chapter 05.11 framework’s 10 questions)
Engage senior line officers and political appointees (as appropriate) in dialogue aimed at understanding, acceptance, and support for the alternatives and likely decision.
So here’s how the process will work in the real world. Fire ignites in some out-of-the-way place where letting it burn makes sense. Line officer says to incident commander, “Let it burn.” Incident commander says, “Where’s your documented evidence that Standards 1 through 4 were completed during the pre-season?” Line officer says “Huh?”
Who wants to help me draft the FOIA letter I’ll send out to each line officer asking if she’s done her Seven Standards homework?