U.S. Department of Agriculture: Forest Service -- National Agroforestry Center


Date of this Version

Winter 2007


Fire Management Today, Volume 67, No. 1, Winter 2007.


In recent years, more researchers are collecting data either on active wildfires or immediately after wildfire occurrence. Known as Rapid Response Research, this important undertaking provides real-time information, useful data, and improved tools for managers.

Rapid Response Research can encompass fire ecology, burn severity, fire behavior, firefighter safety, emissions, erosion, vegetation response, remote sensing, and a multitude of various fire-related topics.

By using this Rapid Response Research, we have the potential to link fire effects to conditions before, during, and after fires. This information is critical to building the next generation of tools for forecasting the consequences of fire and fuels management.

In this way, Rapid Response Research products are also helping fire managers and local land managers make informed decisions about the ecological and social consequences of fire.

At the same time, however, Rapid Response Researchers can complicate resource and personnel management for managers during critical emergency periods on wildfires. Researchers must therefore be constantly aware of the challenges of conducting research on active wildfires (see sidebar). They must understand and work closely with fire management organizations without compromising these managers’ primary tasks.

Fire scientists and fire managers have long worked closely together, but if they are to successfully address today’s complex wildland fire challenges, they must now work together even more closely.

Teams of research scientists and technicians have an increasing presence in today’s fire camps. Demands for information and accountability from the media and general public also peak during large fire incidents.

The added safety and logistical requirements required for Rapid Response Research are justifiable only if the research data can be effectively collected—and we learn information that we cannot ascertain by any other means.