Notes: Expert Opinion Estimation of Fireline Production Rates

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An expert opinion survey of wildland firefighters (engine captains, handcrew bosses, and dozer operators) was used to obtain estimates of fireline production rates for use in stochastic simulations of initial attack on wildland fires. The survey design was inspired by the probabilistic PERT/CPM technique of expressing the time required to complete a given activity as a beta distribution. This design proved intelligible to firefighters, cost-effective, and caused minimal disruption of normal firefighting activities. The survey produced useable information quickly. Comparisons of the results with production rates reported in prior studies indicate that the latter are quite optimistic. Production rates appear to be strongly influenced by variations in topography and vegetation that could not be easily categorized on a statewide basis. Other researchers may find this estimation technique to be of value for quantifying a stochastic production process, especially one not readily amenable to direct measurement.

Keywords: Initial attack; fire protection; probabilistic PERT/CPM; stochastic simulation; survey methods; wildfire

Document Type: Miscellaneous

Affiliations: Associate Professor, Department of Forestry and Resource Management, University of California, Berkeley, CA 94720

Publication date: September 1, 1989

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