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Minimum Impact Strategies and Tactics Managing Resources During Unplanned Ignitions Workshop (Fire Resource Advisors) Ogden, Utah - January 2009 Prepared by Suzanne Cable Moose Creek Ranger District - Nez Perce National Forest Today’s Discussion Includes

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minimum impact strategies and tactics

Minimum Impact Strategies and Tactics

Managing Resources During

Unplanned Ignitions Workshop

(Fire Resource Advisors)

Ogden, Utah - January 2009

Prepared by Suzanne Cable

Moose Creek Ranger District - Nez Perce National Forest

today s discussion includes
Today’s Discussion Includes
  • Compilation of existing MIST information thanks to:
    • resources available on www.Wilderness.net
    • Provided by the Arthur Carhart National Wilderness Training Center
today s discussion includes3
Today’s Discussion Includes
  • Hints/suggestions for MIST success: some “art” to go along with the “science”
  • Some discussion of Wilderness specific issues
  • Where to go for more information & resources
what s in an acronym
What’s in an acronym?
  • Minimum Impact Suppression Techniques or Tactics (MIST)
  • Minimum Impact Management Tactics (MIMT)
  • Minimum Impact Strategies and Tactics
    • Same objective, changing name
    • Key is Minimum Impact
what does mist mean
What does MIST mean?

A few definitions from various sources…

  • To minimize fire suppression impacts on the land while ensuring the actions taken are safe, timely and effective
  • The intent of MIST is to suppress a wildfire with the least impact to the land
what does mist mean6
What does MIST mean?
  • MIST is not intended to represent a separate or distinct classification of firefighting tactics but rather a mind set of how to suppress a wildfire while minimizing the long-term effects of the supression action
  • Ten years from now, which will be most noticeable… the effects of the fire or the effects of the firefighter?
what does mist mean7
What does MIST mean?

My definition…

  • Techniques that will allow you to meet your fire management objective while using Resource (or Wilderness) appropriate methods resulting in the minimum impact necessary
resource benefits of mist
Resource Benefits of MIST
  • Less water quality degradation
  • Less habitat destruction: aquatic and terrestrial
  • Less vegetation impacts
  • Less introduction of exotic species
  • Less soil compaction
  • Less erosion
  • Less visual impact – stumps, fire line, retardant stains
wilderness considerations
Wilderness Considerations

1964 Wilderness Act, Wilderness values:

  • “natural condition…
  • preservation of their Wilderness character…
  • untrammeled…
  • primeval character and influence…
  • managed so as to preserve its natural conditions…
  • generally appears to be affected by the forces of nature…
  • with the impact of man’s work substantially unnoticeable…”
slide10
Forest Service Manual:

2324.23 – Fire Management Activities. Conduct all fire management activities within wilderness in a manner compatible with overall wilderness management objectives. Give preference to using methods and equipment that cause the least:

  • Alternation of the wilderness landscape.
  • Disturbance to the land surface.
  • Disturbance to visitor solitude.
  • Reduction of visibility during periods of visitor use.
  • Adverse effect on other air quality related values.
slide11
2324.23 – Fire Management Activities. continued…

Locate fire camps, helispots, and other temporary facilities or improvements outside of the wilderness boundary whenever feasible.

Rehabilitate disturbed areas within wilderness to as natural an appearance as possible.

what helps mist succeed
What helps MIST succeed?

Skilled firefighters with the

right tools,

good leadership, and

a willing attitude

what helps mist succeed13
What helps MIST succeed?

Try to put yourself in the firefighters place – see if from their perspective

what helps mist succeed14
What helps MIST succeed?

Be a good READ: build your credibility, gain experience on the line, maintain your FFT2 qualifications (if possible)

when does mist apply
When does MIST apply?

Anytime and anywhere people or tools touch the ground or are dropped from the air!

  • It includes all human activities:
what size fires need mist
What Size Fires Need MIST?
  • Type IV small incidents through Type I teams
  • Get help if you need it: other resource specialists, READ trainees
what s the role of the read related to mist
What’s the role of the READ related to MIST?
  • Represent your line officer by making sure that your Resource is protected while a fire event is being managed
  • Work with the IC and others fire personnel to implement
what s the role of the read related to mist18
What’s the role of the READ related to MIST?
  • Ask questions and provide options/advice
  • Be there and be involved!
  • Participate in the AAR
wilderness specific considerations
Wilderness Specific Considerations
  • Think long term: don’t disregard prohibitions on motorized equipment and mechanical transport, but see the big picture
  • When moto/mech is approved, provide specific definition of what is authorized
    • Use when needed, but only when needed (chainsaws for fire suppression vs. firewood at spike camp)
    • Helicopter for emergency medi-evac vs. convenience for crew transport
    • Pumps for practice
  • Tracking for INFRA Wild of intrusions
  • Lack of skills or tools does not justify moto/mech
read tool kit for mist success
READ Tool Kit for MIST Success

The Science Part:

  • Weather forecasts
  • Fire history maps
  • Forest fire behavior characteristics
  • Minimum Requirements Decision Guide (Wilderness)
  • Local requirements for MIST (in writing, signed)

…Plus all the other things in your READ kit prepared in advance

read tool kit for mist success21
READ Tool Kit for MIST Success

The People Part (or Art):

  • A good relationship with your FMO, your Line Officer, other specialists on your Forest
  • A patient, but persistent attitude
  • Creative thinking
  • The ability to think long term
  • The ability to help make it happen
mist tactics
MIST Tactics

Without compromising firefighter or public safety, MIST should be used for all fire activities, including:

  • Line construction or other containment actions (including escape routes & safety zones)
  • Crew and equipment transport, including heli-spot construction
  • Structure Protection and fuel reduction
  • Spike and coyote camps
  • Mop-up
  • Rehab work
firefighter and public safety
Firefighter and Public Safety
  • It is a myth that MIST inherently compromises safety
  • MIST and safety are compatible with skilled firefighters
  • Support and commit to safety, but don’t allow safety to become an excuse for not using MIST
  • Know when “the safety card” is being played to prevent the use of MIST tactics
firefighter and public safety24
Firefighter and Public Safety

How to know when it’s safe?

  • Ultimately, its not your call – one tactic does not fit all
  • But you can:
    • Offer options
    • Help crews obtain the skills they need
    • Help fill gaps in skills for next time
fire line
Fire Line

Work with the IC and others to:

  • Use natural and existing barriers rather than line (rocks, roads, trails, rivers)
  • Locate line in minimal fuels
  • Use only the width and depth necessary to halt fire spread
  • Limb or fall only when necessary for safety and to prevent fire spread
fire line28
Fire Line
  • Consider widening minimal line by burning fuels between the line and the fire (burn out)
  • Roll logs rather than buck, or reroute around logs
  • Scrape fuels from the base of snags
  • When building line, locate away from snags where possible
  • Consider explosives
as fuels increase
As Fuels Increase:
  • Look for use of natural barriers
  • May need more intensive fireline
  • Consider use of more intensive burn-out tactics
burn out tactics
Burn-outTactics

Burning out can be effective, but requires a high degree of expertise

burn out tactics35
Burn Out Tactics
  • When applied from natural barriers, burn out may reduce the need to build handline
  • Burn out can be effective around private in-holdings and during structure protection
  • Fire behavior may depend on the time of day – some MIST tactics may be more successful at night/morning rather than during the day
transport considerations
Transport Considerations
  • How will crews and equipment get there:
    • Need for speed
    • Location
    • Look for options:
      • Driving to road access
      • Hiking on and off trail
      • Rappelling
      • Smokejumpers
  • What are the impacts of each option?
    • Long term vs. short term
helicopter operations
Helicopter Operations

During planning consider the objectives…

  • If primarily for crew support:
    • Use paracargo?
    • Use longline?
    • Or can you use stock?
helicopter operations40
Helicopter Operations

If primarily used for crew shuttles:

  • Use natural openings
  • Avoid construction in high use areas
  • Are there other sites within reasonable walking distance?
  • Provide specific instructions for construction
heli spots
Heli-spots

Good heli-spots are found not made…

heli spot construction
Heli-spot Construction
  • Flush cut stumps
  • Limit bucking and limbing
  • Use directional falling so trees will be crisscrossed in a more naturally appearing arrangement
  • Think rehab from the start
  • BE THERE!
structure protection47
Structure Protection

MIST considerations:

  • Have plans in place and equipment cached
  • Consult with Heritage specialists on historic structures
  • How to not damage structures while protecting them?
  • How to best use water?
  • Keep track of what is installed and where for efficient removal
slide52
Try to use water when possible to minimize damage to buildings
  • Only wrap what’s needed
structure protection54
Structure Protection

When vegetation removal is needed, provide clear direction for:

    • Low stumping
    • Slash dispersal
    • Type of tools used (W: motorized?)
  • Consider trade-offs for each unique structure between use of water, pumps, vegetation removal, wrapping
precautions around water
Precautions Around Water
  • Avoid use of retardants and other chemicals near live streams

(W: or at all?)

  • Provide spill prevention and containment measures for all pumps and fuel containers
  • Use longer draft hoses
crew activities
Crew activities:

Eating

Sleeping

Sanitation

Socializing

camp management
Camp Management
  • Evaluate coyote camp impacts vs. travel
  • Get a camp manager
  • Provide specific instructions for camp management and monitor results
  • Use existing and impact resistant sites
camp management61
Camp Management
  • Be involved in site selection
  • Be there before the crew shows up
  • Flag travel routes from camp to other areas to minimize user trails
  • Designate areas for washing, keep pollutants out of surface water
slide63
Locate latrines at least 200’ from water and at least 8” deep
    • Use a trench (shallow) or communal pit (deep) that’s filled in and rehabbed
slide64
Plan ahead and prepare for toilet options
    • Have equipment already on your unit and ready for use
mop up considerations
Mop Up Considerations
  • Mop-up standards are negotiated
  • Strive for the minimum necessary to secure the line from escape
  • The standard is a balance between resource values and mitigation for safety
  • Minimizing mop-up impacts requires longer patrolling
mop up techniques
Mop Up Techniques
  • Use cold trailing
  • Use water rather than tools
  • Minimize soil disturbance
  • Cool, remove or burn fuels
  • Allow fuels to burn out
  • Fire line around problems rather than fall
tree removal
Tree Removal

During mop-up:

  • Identify hazards with flagging or glow sticks
  • Extinguish burning trees with water or dirt
  • Prohibit sport felling or practice felling
  • Consider blasting
weeds
Weeds

Prevent introduction or spread of weeds:

  • Locate helibases and camps in weed-free areas, when possible
  • If camps have weeds, flag off areas and establish travel routes through weed-free areas
  • Power wash all equipment used on the fire (including hose) going in and out
  • Minimize disturbance areas, including hand line
slide75

Fire Management Impacts Rehab:

  • The objective is to mitigate or eliminate resource damage to as natural a condition as possible
  • Use locally appropriate methods & think long term – consider precipitation, elevation, slope, aspect, etc.
  • The standards applied can significantly affect the cost of a fire – include costs on the fire’s code
rehab of fire line
Rehab of Fire Line
  • Fill in berms and provide drainage, if necessary
  • Scatter bone piles
  • Flush cut stumps or “hand fuzz”
  • Naturalize
  • Be prepared to demonstrate what you mean
heli spot rehab
Heli-spot Rehab
  • “Fuzz” stumps and log ends
  • Reposition downed logs for distribution across the site
  • Use targeted, explosive blasts to create microhabitat depressions
  • Pull flagging
  • Rehab access trails
the landing pad
The Landing Pad

Before

After

slide89

Targeted, explosive blasts to create microhabitat depressions

Rehab after the blast

After the blast

slide90
Structure protection
    • Remove staples from buildings
    • Pump sites – rehab site impacts
    • Hose lays – rehab trails along hoses
slide92
Spike Camps
    • Cover latrine
    • Pick up all litter and naturalize
  • ICP, Staging Areas and Drop Points
    • Rehab as locally appropriate
    • Pick up all litter and naturalize
how to make mist work
How to make MIST work

There’s more than one way to do almost everything!

  • Ask the questions and provide options
    • Is this necessary to meet objectives?
    • If so, what’s the best way to do it with the least impact?

Firefighters under stress often do what they’ve done before and may not think of better ways to do a task – try to help them find a better way

how to go from words to actions
How to go from words to actions
  • Not only offer suggestions for “how”, but be prepared and able to explain “why”
  • Be there and everywhere – get help if you need it (READ trainees and technical specialists)
  • Be prepared to get dirty
how to go from words to actions105
How to go from words to actions
  • Know your line officer and stay within their limits
  • Help firefighters be successful by doing what’s necessary to make it work:
    • Helicopters vs. Stock Support
    • Toilets for proper camps sanitation
    • W: Cross cut saw training & equipment
proactive ways help mist happen
Proactive ways help MIST happen
  • Check out your area’s standard Delegation of Authority letter – is MIST in there?
  • Provide MIST training to your local ICs and crews before the season begins
    • Share the burden challenge:
      • Remind them that MIST is their responsibility
      • Challenge crews to do good work
      • Remind ICs that they are responsible for the actions of their subordinates and that they will be held accountable for both successes and failures
crossing the line how is wilderness different
Crossing the Line: How is Wilderness Different?

Your success will be measured not only by your management of the fire, but also by the impacts you leave behind.

Following a fire, the effects of the fire may be evident but the impacts of any management actions should not be.

You become a Wilderness Manager

proactive ways help mist happen108
Proactive ways help MIST happen
  • Set up an annual meeting with other resource specialists to review resource concerns (get info in advance with a signature when appropriate)
  • Help identify tool and skills gaps and work with your Fire organization to build the skills and get the tools
  • Get on the agenda for Guard School and talk about MIST – fire line tactics are best learned before firefighters are on the incident
  • Work with your fire shop to prepare a resource map (“values at risk”) for your area
final suggestions
Final suggestions
  • Don’t assume that experienced firefighters know about MIST and will automatically do the right thing (Smokejumpers and Hot Shots included)
  • Be especially alert with ICs from different regions or agencies
  • “Name request” specific ICs that you know understand MIST or your resource
final suggestions110
Final suggestions
  • W: some will ask for moto/mech approval “just because they can” (and make the Line officer say no)
  • Keep track of what people and equipment are where to aid in rehab and monitoring
  • Start the rehab plan on day one
  • On big fires, use all the resources you have available – get help from other specialists, use their knowledge!
resources
Resources
  • www.Wilderness.net: Toolboxes, Fire Management
  • There you will find:
    • Handbooks/pocketguides
    • Guidelines/briefing papers
    • Powerpoint presentations