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Type: Journal Article
Author(s): Erin J. Belval; Sarah M. McCaffrey; Trevor Finney; David E. Calkin; Shane Greer
Publication Date: 2023

In the 2020 fire season, the fire management community developed and tested a wide range of new practices to meet challenges posed by the coronavirus pandemic. To better understand the effectiveness of different innovations and which should be considered for more permanent use, we surveyed Interagency Hotshot Crew (IHC) superintendents in January 2021. We focused on identifying innovations that, regardless of COVID-19, the IHCs would want to keep and why, as well as those that proved problematic. The survey focused on paperwork, briefings, and fire camp and incident command post setup. Results found clear benefits from many of the changes to operational efficiency and crew health and wellbeing; challenges were generally tied to logistical and communication issues. The results of this survey speak to the logistics of running large incident command operations and could be applied both outside the US and outside the field of wildland fire management.

Study Implications: There may be meaningful benefits beyond mitigation of COVID-19 spread for continuing to use virtual paperwork, virtual briefings, and dispersed camp setups while supporting large fire suppression operations. Operational efficiency was seen as a clear benefit of many of these changes, with the often-mentioned advantage to a particular practice enabling crews to spend more time on the fireline. The new practices also appear to contribute to overall crew physical health. However, the benefits to crew health, efficiency, and effectiveness will need to be assessed against the increased logistical support required from incident management teams.

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Citation: Belval, Erin; McCaffrey, Sarah; Finney, Trevor; Calkin, David; Greer, Shane. The impact of COVID-19 prevention measures on interagency hotshot crews in 2020. Journal of Forestry 121(1):37-48.

Cataloging Information

Alaska    California    Eastern    Great Basin    Hawaii    Northern Rockies    Northwest    Rocky Mountain    Southern    Southwest    National
  • COVID-19
  • fire camp
  • hotshot crews
  • operations
  • survey
  • wildfire
  • wildland fire
Record Last Modified:
Record Maintained By: FRAMES Staff (
FRAMES Record Number: 67837