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Deploying initial attack resources for wildfire suppression: spatial coordination, budget constraints, and capacity constraints

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We combine a scenario-based, standard-response optimization model with stochastic simulation to improve the efficiency of resource deployment for initial attack on wildland fires in three planning units in California. The optimization model minimizes the expected number of fires that do not receive a standard response — defined as the number of resources by type that must arrive at the fire within a specified time limit — subject to budget and station capacity constraints and uncertainty about the daily number and location of fires. We use the California Fire Economics Simulator to predict the number of fires not contained within initial attack modeling limits. Compared with the current deployment, the deployment obtained with optimization shifts resources from the planning unit with highest fire load to the planning unit with the highest standard response requirements but leaves simulated containment success unchanged. This result suggests that, under the current budget and capacity constraints, a range of deployments may perform equally well in terms of fire containment. Resource deployments that result from relaxing constraints on station capacity achieve greater containment success by encouraging consolidation of resources into stations with high dispatch frequency, thus increasing the probability of resource availability on high fire count days.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: USDA Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Research Station, P.O. Box 3890, Portland, OR 97208, USA. 2: Applied Economics/FES, Oregon State University, 321 Richardson Hall, Corvallis, OR 97331, USA. 3: USDA Forest Service, Northern Research Station, 1992 Folwell Avenue, St. Paul, MN 55108, USA.

Publication date: 2013-01-01

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  • Published since 1971, this monthly journal features articles, reviews, notes and commentaries on all aspects of forest science, including biometrics and mensuration, conservation, disturbance, ecology, economics, entomology, fire, genetics, management, operations, pathology, physiology, policy, remote sensing, social science, soil, silviculture, wildlife and wood science, contributed by internationally respected scientists. It also publishes special issues dedicated to a topic of current interest.
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