How to Use This Site

    The Fire Manager's Source for Applied Sciences on the Human Dimensions of Wildland Fire Management

    "Meeting wildland fire managers' needs for useable and accessible fire science."


    Products and Services

    Many different products can be acquired from this site, all designed by fire managers and scientists working together to deliver fire science solutions to meet fire managers' knowledge and information needs. Products range from research papers to quick reference guides and check-lists with practical guidelines, management action guides and other useful products in-between.

    Links will take you to other resources such as fire science classes, workshops, and conferences sponsored by other organizations. You can reach the major fire science research organizations from this site.

    Talk it Over. The site is not all one-way. You can join a forum with other fire managers and scientists to discuss a current problem. You can ask a scientist or fire manager a specific question. You can request a literature review and suggest research questions. If you click on the "Contact Us" button you can make suggestions for ways to make the website work better for you. 

    Current Fire Science. The front page contains brief summaries of recent research papers and suggestions for ways to apply the results. These brief interpretations of scientific papers are frequently updated.

    Special Collections. The HDFSS site features special collections that gather together reviews, research syntheses, fact sheets, tools, and other resources targeting a specific fire management problem. There are special collections on community collaboration, situational awareness, fatigue and performance, communicating with people during disasters, effects of fire on recreation values, and others. New special collections are added frequently.

    Bibliographies are provided in several different forms. They all address specific problems that fire managers encounter and are organized to make it easy to find and get the scientific literature relevant to your management problem.

    Simple bibliographies are lists of publications and other resources relevant to specific applied fire management problems with all the information you will need to find them through a library or on the internet.

    Annotated bibliographies summarize the individual publications listed in a bibliography and apply them to the fire management problem the bibliography was developed to help solve.

    Annotated reading lists go further than annotated bibliographies. They typically include a synthesis of the publications and other resources with suggested applications to specific fire management problems.

    Literature Reviews. Single research papers are seldom enough to base management decisions on. Usually it is necessary to review many different studies, combine the results, and apply them to the specific fire management problem. Almost always studies done in other fields and some done purely to develop theory without a practical focus are helpful in solving the fire management problem. Scientists working with fire managers combine the findings of the different studies into principles and guidelines specifically targeting fire management issues. Often a literature review prepared for another field has direct application to fire management. For example, prevention research done related to public health may have been synthesized for health education practitioners. Physical conditioning studies may have been synthesized for athletes and trainers. Situational awareness and crew decision making may have been studied and summarized for airlines. Such literature reviews are included here with brief discussions of how the results apply in fire management.

    Systematic Reviews are a special kind of literature review developed in Evidence-Based Medicine to synthesize research results focused on a particular clinical practice subject. Fire science systematic reviews provide the same service for fire managers. Systematic reviews are different from the typical scientific literature review in several ways.

    First, they are targeted to a relatively narrow fire management problem identified as important by fire managers. They are intended to help solve a practical, applied problem and not to advance theory or a research program.

    They attempt to include all the research relevant to the identified problem. Specific rules are made for including or excluding research reports. Some systematic reviews may only evaluate experiments. Others may only include random sample surveys. Still others may limit themselves to qualitative studies on the topic. All of them focus narrowly on the fire management topic at hand.

    Included research is carefully evaluated for quality of study design, analysis, and execution. The findings of the studies reviewed are often synthesized using quantitative or qualitative meta-analysis. These methods systematically integrate the findings in ways that can be reproduced by other scientists.

    Conclusions and recommendations generated by the systematic reviews are each assigned a level of confidence in the evidence supporting them. The meaning of the level of confidence for users is clearly defined.

    Systematic reviews are much more useable than simply a collection or summary of research papers. However, they still are primarily scientific papers even though they are focused on a management problem. Many users will find that systematic reviews meet their needs very well. However, for other users or in other situations, more condensed information is needed.

    Practical Action Guidelines provide a condensed version of the findings from systematic reviews. These are substantially shorter documents. They present the conclusions and recommendations from the systematic reviews briefly with a statement of the confidence one can place in the evidence supporting each recommendation. The supporting and contradictory research findings are briefly summarized and the logic leading to the recommendation outlined. Practical guidelines are developed by experienced fire managers working with scientists so that scientific results can be integrated with practical field knowledge to produce useable recommendations. Practical guidelines are very accessible to users. Those needing more in-depth explanation for a recommendation provided in a practical guideline may link to the systematic review or even to the original research papers.

    Fact Sheets. Research stations produce fact sheets based on the results of current studies or literature reviews. Fact Sheets are intended to quickly deliver research result to fire science users in a practical format that is easy to print and use. Those wishing to can follow links to the original study report.

    Quick Reference Guides are typically one page long. The recommendations are simply listed along with estimates of the confidence that one can place in the evidence on which they are based. Quick reference guides and check-lists can be taken to the field or posted at a work station to remind fire science users of evidence-based best practices.

    Management Action Guidelines explain in more detail how to implement different recommendations found in the Practical Action Guidelines. They often combine the results of several systematic reviews and bring together fire science from different fields. For example, the recommendation to increase landscape visual diversity through fuels management from the forest aesthetics systematic review can only be implemented through practices that depend on knowledge of the fire ecology of different vegetation types and how fire behaves in those fuels. It is often relevant to also incorporate knowledge of fire suppression appropriate for those fuels. Management action guidelines are developed by interdisciplinary teams of fire scientists and fire managers working together.

    Training. You can link to classes and workshops relevant to the application of research in the human dimensions of fire management. Both classroom courses and online courses are listed with brief descriptions of their relevance to fire management and links to further information. Some courses are self-study and others are instructor-lead.

    Non-Print Resources. The site also includes podcasts, PowerPoint presentations, spreadsheets, databases, software programs, and tool-kit collections.

    Strength of Evidence

    Guidelines are based on the results of scientific research integrated with practical field experience. The amount of scientific research, the quality of that research, its applicability to the problem, and theoretical rationale vary. Consequently, fire science users can use the resulting generalizations with different degrees of confidence. The strength of scientific evidence is assessed in the research synthesis. An estimate of the strength-of-evidence is included with guidelines.

    Meanings of the strength of evidence indicators:

    Level A: Strongly recommended for implementation and strongly supported by well-designed, experimental, sample survey, or qualitative studies.

    Level B: Recommended for implementation and supported by strong theoretical rationale and certain experimental, sample survey, or qualitative studies. Local acceptability assessments are recommended.

    Level C: Recommended for implementation based on suggestive research results or strong theoretical rationale. Local acceptability assessments strongly are recommended.

    No Recommendation: Practices for which insufficient evidence, theoretical rationale, or practical consensus about effectiveness exists.