Integrating Strategic Risk into Fire Management Operations

October 19 2022 | 1200-1300 MDT

As wildfires become more complex, the risk to firefighters, communities, and resources increases. Wildland fire management personnel must respond to these risks, which can challenge our capabilities. There is a demand for more strategic decision support tools to manage these events. Kit O’Connor covers how analytics can expand the decision space for wildfire response. Join us for an overview of the US Forest Service Risk Management Assistance (RMA) Program. Kit will show how analytics, such as those in the RMA Dashboard, can inform our decision-making. Topic areas include the suppression difficulty index, minimizing firefighter exposure, and potential control line locations. These tools can help to examine alternative strategies, consider exposure tradeoffs, assess risk to resources and assets, and realize the beneficial effects of fire. The intent is to couple decision support tools with risk management expertise to improve wildfire response.

Presented by:

Kit O’Connor, Ph.D., is a Research Ecologist with the Wildfire Risk Management Science Team at the USDA Forest Service Rocky Mountain Research Station. Kit’s primary research interest is in bridging the human and ecosystem dimensions of fire management. His work combines pre-fire planning and operational decision support analytics to promote safer and more effective suppression response, ecosystem restoration and resilience, and sustainable forest and fire management systems. Kit lives in Missoula, Montana, where he enjoys trail running, mountain biking, and family campouts with his wife, daughters, and three dogs.