Systematic fire management can be thought of as a series of steps, from prevention through mop-up and patrol, which managers can use in any number of implementation alternatives. This series of steps includes the following elements:
• Fire Prevention: Prevention activities take on two kinds of efforts--one to reduce fire brand production and one to reduce the susceptibility of the fuel bed to ignite (fuel treatment or modification). Keeping records of known fire causes helps to identify areas for fire prevention campaigns and methods.
• Fire Presuppression: These are preparedness activities in anticipation of a fire. This element includes training, equipping and pre-positioning firefighting resources.
• Detection: It is very important to detect a fire early when small and report it to the proper authorities. This can be done through infrared scanners, detection towers, aerial reconnaissance and people patrolling. Procedures also should be established for the general public to report wildfires that they encounter.
• Location: Fires need to be located accurately on a map to guide those who will dispatch resources to the right area. This can be done as simply as placing pins in the map at the reported coordinates.
• Communication: Fire location is typically communicated through radio transmissions to the forces that will control the fire.
• Dispatch: The act of receiving the location of the fire, deciding what suppression forces are necessary to send to the fire, sending the forces and supporting those resources once assigned to the fire.
• Attack: Having timely access to the fire area, whether by foot, vehicle, boat, or helicopter, is essential. The wildfire situation is evaluated and strategies and tactics are implemented to control the fire at as small a size as possible.
• Mop-up: Once the fire spread has been halted, it is necessary to extinguish all flames and cool all heat sources inside the perimeter of the fire. This must be done thoroughly to prevent future escapes.
These principles and elements are the minimum guidelines to be followed in implementing an effective programmeme of fire management to safeguard people, property and natural resources. It also must be recognized that these steps identify an emergency response to suppress wildfires. Emergency responses, by themselves, will not be successful in the long run unless coupled with sustainable land use policies and practices. Strategies for sound timber harvest practices, settlement, community incentives, prescribed burning and agro-forestry projects that reduce flammability should be developed and integrated on a landscape scale to reduce the threat of future fires.