Media Review

In this week’s blog homework, I wanted to cover three optional videos. These videos are “Becoming a Wildland Firefighter’’, ‘’ America Burning: The Yarnell Hill Tragedy and the Nation’s Wildfire Crisis’’, and ‘’ Cohesive Strategy Stakeholders Perspectives”. I will dive in each video content and try to make connections among them.

As we know, fires play a prominent role in the environment all the times, and even though humanity has used fire as a tool, fire has had a lot of devastating effects on both people and other beings. To prevent these impacts, skilled firefighters are trained, firefighting policies are enacted and so on. In the first video, we can see the firefighters and their education systems. Also, important notions like safety zone, fire shelter, or escape routes are mentioned in this video. These terms are important because in the event of fire, firefighters might become alone or not get help like in the Yarnell Fire. So, firefighters should be able to practice them in an effective way. Otherwise, they might encounter undesired outcomes like deaths. In my opinion, death is the most tragic part and unwanted result of wildland fires. In the Yarnell fire, the team called Granite Mountain Hotshots used safety zone or shelters. Nevertheless, 19 firefighters tragically perished. And this shows us that fire managers or forest services should have more effective fire-fighting plans. This notion is directly related to the third video.

In the third video, as a result of the Flame Act, Congress creates a strategy called “National Cohesive Wildland Fire Management Strategy”. With this strategy, 3 important goals are targeted. Fire-resilient landscape, a fire adapted community, and safer and more effective fighting operations. Even though firefighting is still dangerous, the negative impact of it is intended to reduce with this plan. So, these kinds of policies have a crucial impact on firefighters and their fight.

To be honest, I should say that there is no future without fire or smoke, but this case should not reduce the effectiveness of firefighting policies. Managers should always come up with more effective fighting plans, and I think the National Cohesive Wildland Fire Management Strategy might be a good example of this policy.

Fire Policies in the USA

As many countries, the USA have had a lot of different policies about preventing forestry systems from different dangers, and fire has became one of those dangers. However, people has used fire for different purposes all the times even though it became a problem sometimes.

William Greeley, one of the main officials in forest fire policy in the USA, thought that light burning is dangerous and risky for forested areas, and it can cause people to face more dangerous forest fires(Greeley 1920). In addition, he advocated that this practice would damage pine forests. However, by the time, different policies were changed and implemented.

In the late nineteenth century, the U.S Department of Interior had the responsibility to manage fire related problems. Later, this task transferred to the U.S Department of Agriculture’s Forest Bureau, which was the foundation of Forest Service. At that time, even though there were some debates about methods, light burning was seen as a common method to deal with the problems (Donovan and Brown 2005). In the 1910’s fire season, many people died of forest fires and almost five million acres national forest land burned(Donovan and Brown 2005). After these fire events, serious policies took shape to prevent timber. In these policies, expenditures were very important and that’s why a “least-cost-plus-loss” model was implemented. However, people understood that they needed a more aggressive firefighting method(Donovan and Brown 2005).  

Later, the New Deal by Franklin Roosevelt emerged with important changes, but the important addition to these policies was the 10 A.M. policy enacted in 1935. No matter what cost and obstacle, the Forest Service aimed to put out fires as soon as possible or until the following day’s 10 A.M. This was also requiring a lot money and manpower.

After WWII, surplus equipment became available to be used in aggressive fire policy and Forest Service hegemony reached at its peak point in its policy in 1960’s. Next, although there were seen different policies like the Wilderness Act (1964), or the National Environmental Policy Act (1970), Forest Service was not efficient enough about suppression policies and so the 10 A.M. policy was cancelled in 1978 (Donovan and Brown 2005). Later, the Forest Service had to conduct a cost-benefit analysis for their suppression budget. This led to National Fire Management Analysis System (NFMAS).

In the twenty-first century, with the advancements of scientific evidence, people understood the nature of fire and they have started to allow some lightning fires. However, I think that skilled managers should take place in light burning process because it is dangerous. Otherwise, if the firefighters cannot control it, light burning can cause bigger disasters.

Donovan, G. H. and T. C. Brown (2005). “Wildfire management in the US Forest Service: a brief history.” Natural Hazards Observer. July (2005). 3 p.

Greeley, W. B. (1920). “Piute Forestry’or the fallacy of light burning.” The Timberman 21: 38-39.