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The Progressive Method of Forest Fire Control

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The evolution of fire fighting organizational principles and techniques has been especially rapid in recent years. Fire control leaders in the U. S. Forest Service of the North Pacific Region, faced with an especially difficult problem of control line construction, holding, and mop-up in extremely heavy fuels and rough topography, have developed organizational methods of controlling fires that are successful and apparently contain great promise for the future of forest management in that area. The method was not the lucky discovery of a single idea but the outgrowth of many disastrous experiences, discouraging false leads, and tedious experiments but with an eye ever toward the slightest progress or improvement. The first real contribution was by K. P. McReynolds when he realized the possibilities and formulated the one-lick method. Jack Campbell and Roy Headley eagerly assisted on refinements and promoted its use and application. The North Pacific Region readily adopted the method as standard in 1938. During the 1938 fire season L. K. Mays became thoroughly discouraged with the extremely poor accomplishments of ordinary untrained and inefficient suppression crews, and after a critical analysis suggested specially selected, equipped, and trained mobile suppression crews. Under the sponsorship of Roy Headley and the leadership of Mays the Forest Service in 1939 and 1940 experimented with a special 40-man crew. The results were far more favorable than anticipated and in 1940 the idea was extended to twenty-four organized crews. The special crews constructed fire line with the one-lick method faster than the burning out and holding crews could adequately keep up. As a result, the idea of organizing all crews, on the control line, on a functional basis, to press forward in a progressive manner similarly in fashion to a one-lick crew, was advanced late in the fire season of 1939 and put into effect throughout the North Pacific Region in 1940. The author of this article describes these ideas and practices under an applicable and descriptive title.

Document Type: Journal Article

Affiliations: Oregon State College

Publication date: January 1, 1942

More about this publication?
  • The Journal of Forestry is the most widely circulated scholarly forestry journal in the world. In print since 1902, the Journal has received several national awards for excellence. The mission of the Journal of Forestry is to advance the profession of forestry by keeping forest management professionals informed about significant developments and ideas in the many facets of forestry: economics, education and communication, entomology and pathology, fire, forest ecology, geospatial technologies, history, international forestry, measurements, policy, recreation, silviculture, social sciences, soils and hydrology, urban and community forestry, utilization and engineering, and wildlife management. The Journal is published bimonthly: January, March, May, July, September, and November.
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