What Does Fire Season Look Like Amidst the COVID-19 Pandemic?

CONCERNS, PERSPECTIVES, AND IDEAS FROM THE FIELD

This document will discuss the concerns, perspectives, and ideas garnered from the field on how to approach fire season 2020. While the concern is real for the upcoming fire season, COVID-19 has exposed blind spots, pinch points, and weaknesses in the wildland fire system and within the Forest Service as a whole. Whatever actions are taken this season should not be looked at as a temporary fix for a temporary situation. Rather, they should be looked at as possible permanent changes to how we fight fire into the future that make us, as a group, more resilient.

We have a unique opportunity to focus on what is important in life. We have the opportunity to put things into place that help us do our jobs better and make life better for the employees in the long run. We need to ensure that whatever the changes, our primary responsibility is to care for the safety of our people during and after assignment.

What people want most is a message from national leadership acknowledging that this fire season isn’t going to be normal and that we are going to have to use different strategies. Some of those strategies may not be well taken by the public and it is going to take some political courage to follow through.

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