The Forest Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture, defines success in the wildland fire response environment as “safely achieving reasonable objectives with the least firefighter exposure necessary while enhancing stakeholder support for our management efforts”. However, persistent information and knowledge gaps challenge the agency’s ability to measure success in coming fire seasons. In this paper, we outline a roadmap to help fill these gaps, describing progress towards developing meaningful fire response key performance indicators (KPIs). We focus on characterizing suppression resource use and effectiveness as requisite initial steps towards reducing unnecessary exposure. Our intentions are to articulate the rationale for embracing KPIs for fire response operations, briefly review best practices as they relate to organizational performance measurement, and describe recent and emerging analysis techniques designed to ultimately improve responder exposure assessment. Specifically, we review tangible research products that could be operationalized as KPIs in the near future, and illustrate their calculation and interpretation for a set of large fires that occurred in the U.S. in 2017. To conclude, we offer thoughts on productive pathways forward with performance measurement.
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License
which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited