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GIS analytics for wildfire preparedness activities

Fire map shaded red, orange and yellow and a photo of two people standing outside with one wearing a firefighter hat and drawing on a whiteboard

Map, analyze, and prioritize preparedness measures

By mapping and analyzing wildfire risk, agencies can understand and prioritize where projects can target and reduce a community's vulnerabilities. This data-driven process is the foundation for mitigation efforts, community planning, and future resource requirements. Wildfire preparedness maps allow agencies and local authorities to better visualize the data to identify current risks as well as monitor historical trends that can inform a more real-time approach to changing conditions and the potential impact to residents, infrastructure, and the environment.

Applying location analytics to preparedness

Risk assessment and modeling

Fire staff can use GIS to better view and understand physical features and the relationships that influence fire behavior. They can view factors such as topography, fuel moisture, and vegetation type to determine locations with the highest fire risk. This information can be compared with high-value resources such as critical habitat and ecosystems, infrastructure, cultural resources, sensitive soils near drainages, and urban housing development to pinpoint areas at greatest risk. Command staff can determine the likelihood of wildfire occurrence by locating historical fire locations and identifying potential ignition sources such as power lines, roads, industrial areas, and housing. When areas of high potential threat are overlaid near flammable vegetation and important values, essential fire management actions can be identified.

Risk map of average wildfire hazard potential in the United States

Planning and mitigation efforts

Fire staff can use the results of a wildfire risk analysis to develop a comprehensive mitigation plan. GIS can help map and analyze where priority fire prevention, vegetation management, and wildfire detection and suppression programs are needed. It can also help with understanding preattack planning needs for at-risk areas before a fire starts. Maps also aid evacuation modeling by defining, understanding, and anticipating population, demographics, social inequities, and traffic patterns that are key to a safe and efficient evacuation.

Fire Safety Survey on a desktop, tablet, and smart phone

Wildfire prevention

Using GIS, agency staff can work in the field to collect and identify data on code violations, defensible space programs, and where community education initiatives are needed to increase local resilience. Utility providers can assess the network for vulnerabilities related to aboveground infrastructure, current fuel and weather conditions, and right-of-way clearance practices to anticipate actions needed to reduce fire ignitions during critical fire weather.

Average wildfire risk map and a sign showing today’s fire danger as very high


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