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A Comparison of the Costs of Forest Service and Contract Fire Crews in the Pacific Northwest

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Rising wildfire suppression expenditures on public land in the United States have led to increased scrutiny of wildfire management practices. One area that has received particular attention is the Forest Service's increasing reliance on contract fire crews. Because a contract crew rate includes several costs that are not included in the wage costs of a Forest Service crew, it is difficult to determine if this increasing reliance on contract fire crews increases or decreases wildfire suppression costs. The full cost of 33 Forest Service type II fire crews dispatched during the 2003 fire season from five national forests in Oregon and Washington are estimated and compared with the cost of contract crews dispatched in the same region. Results suggest that if sufficient work is available to keep a Forest Service crew productively employed throughout a fire season, then the daily cost of a Forest Service type II crew is lower than the daily cost of a contract crew. West. J. Appl. For. 20(4):233–239.
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Keywords: Forest Service; Oregon; Region 6; Type II fire crew; Washington; contract fire crews; environmental management; forest; forest management; forest resources; forestry; forestry research; forestry science; natural resource management; natural resources; wildfire suppression

Document Type: Regular Article

Affiliations: Pacific Northwest Research Station Portland OR 97205 Phone: (503) 808-2043;, Fax: (503) 808-2033, Email: [email protected]

Publication date: 01 October 2005

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