Wildfire is an unplanned wildland fire, either natural or human-caused. The fire may be managed to protect communities and/or enhance natural resource benefits until the fire is out, depending upon changing conditions and circumstances.

Wildfire Prevention

Most wildfires on U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service lands are human-caused. Prevention of human carelessness with fire is critical to minimize the hazards and expense of wildfires, wildfire suppression, and the repair work needed after wildfires to accomplish emergency stablization and rehabilitation.

Wildfire Suppression

The primary objective of fighting unwanted wildfire is to protect human life. Public and firefighter safety is the first priority and is not compromised for any reason. Protecting communities, property, and natural resources are secondary objectives after ensuring human safety.

U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (FWS) fire managers are skilled and experienced at using a range of operational strategies and tactics, depending on circumstances, to maximize public and firefighter safety during wildfire suppression. These options include direct and indirect attack, limited response, monitoring, and minimal impact suppression techniques (MIST) such as tying fireline into natural barriers to reduce soil disturbance and other environmental impacts.

Click here to learn about NWCG Glossary of Wildland Fire Terminology

Firefighters conduct a burnout at Clear Lake NWR during the 2001 Clear Fire.

Firefighters conduct a burnout at Clear Lake NWR during the 2001 Clear Fire.
The fire was contained at 4,000 acres. (USFWS)

Emergency Stabilization and Rehabilitation

FWS conducts emergency stabilization and rehabilitation (ES&R) on lands adversely affected by wildfire and fire suppression, in order to prevent soil erosion and ensure habitat restoration. The need for costly ES&R can be minimized or prevented by regular and ongoing reduction of hazardous fuels through prescribed burning, wildland fire use, and other methods, which reduce the risk, occurrence, and intensity of subsequent wildfire.

Last Updated: 06/02/2012