Firefighters’ Concepts

A Questioning Exercise

Firefighters have some teaching that may lead to beliefs about information that is used to predict fire behavior changes.  It is these believes that are responsible for many firefighters becoming trapped by unexpected changes in the fires behavior.  In an effort to reduce the unexpected fire behavior situations this exercise using a questioning strategy is written. The purpose of this exercise is to combine your intuition and logic to fully explain what you believe.

The main question is:  Do crew-leaders have enough fire behavior knowledge to predict normal variations in fire behavior to assure them of safe leadership on wildfire situations?


Fire danger the relative danger of a fire in an area.
Fire behavior is the differences of fire signatures in a specific area of the fire ground and is time sensitive.


  • Which do you rely on, fire danger or fire behavior, to determine your assigned wildland fire tactic?
  • What are the causes of changes in fire behavior?
  • Where on the fire-ground does air temperature or humidity cause changes in fire behavior?
  • Does solar radiation have a larger effect on fuel moisture than humidity?
  • How would you call a difference between fuel in the sun and fuel in the shade?
  • Why do solar radiated forest fuels burn differently than shaded fuels?
  • Are tactics different between types of fires?
  • Can you describe a fire by type and use the appropriate tactical approach for suppression?
  • Why is timing of a tactical plan important?
  • At what time of day are there more extremes in fire behavior and why?
  • If you have a map of a fire perimeter, can you describe the future of the fire? “What is the fire telling you?”
  • When you fly or observe a wildland fire what information are you gathering and for what purpose?
  • Pick a map of a wildland fire showing perimeters or spread perimeters and describe what information you gain from the map.
  • How can you tell where the fire behavior changes will go beyond the threshold of control or safety?
  • Can you identify by a symbol or a word these points on a map?
  • Can you assign a word for a predicted head fire signature?
  • Can you make a fire behavior prediction on where and when the fire behavior thresholds of control will change?
  • Do you have a language to explain the cause of fire behavior change as well as the cause, timing and location of a potential run?
  • If you do not know how the fire behavior will change are you at risk?
  • If you cannot explain your prediction can you share your prediction effectively?
  • Should a designated lookout have the knowledge and experience to provide safety by the observations made?

Please evaluate this assignment and communicate your thoughts to

To obtain more knowledge in the subject please refer to The Campbell Prediction System online book at


By:  Doug Campbell

One thought on “Firefighters’ Concepts

  1. I believe that firefighters could benefit if they would create a mission and vision statement. A Japanese proverb is insightful.
    Vision without action is a day-dream.
    Action without vision is a nightmare.

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