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Matt P. Plucinski
Year Published:

Cataloging Information

Fuel Treatments & Effects
Suppression treatments
Management Approaches

NRFSN number: 19168
FRAMES RCS number: 57352
Record updated:

Purpose of Review: Containing and controlling wildfire incidents is one of the main functions of fire management. Understanding how this can be done effectively and efficiently informs many of the preparatory activities undertaken by fire management agencies to limit the impact of wildfires. This second article within a two-part series summarizing the current understanding of wildfire suppression effectiveness details research undertaken at incident and landscape scales and discusses their motivations and implications. The series is concluded with a discussion of the major suppression effectiveness knowledge gaps at all scales with suggestions for addressing them.

Recent Findings: Research across incidents has been undertaken as case studies of specific events and economic analyses of productivity during the containment of large fires. Some recent case studies have demonstrated the benefits of fuel management for suppression effectiveness, while economic analyses have identified the contributions of different resource types to containment and found that productivity models developed using non-wildfire data grossly overpredict operational productivity. Research at the landscape scale has identified the variables important for fire outcomes, such as initial attack success and the effectiveness of fuel management programs, and has also identified the benefits of suppression policy changes using long-term datasets.

Summary: There are many ways that wildfire suppression effectiveness can be defined and measured. These depend on the scale and purpose that they are considered. Suppression effectiveness evaluation is challenging at most scales as it is can be undertaken for a range of objectives, is affected by many dynamic broad ranging variables, and because data is difficult to acquire. As a result, there are still many gaps in our understanding and new methods are required to capture the data required to fill these.


Plucinski, Matt P. 2019. Contain and control: wildfire suppression effectiveness at incidents and across landscapes. Current Forestry Reports 5(1):20-40.

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