Fire terminology can be confusing to understand if you aren’t a firefighter. Here are some commonly used terms and definitions in the areas of wildland fire. The terms below are a sub-set of the standardized definitions used by the National Wildfire Coordinating Group (NWCG) community.
Apparatus - A motor-driven vehicle, or group of vehicles, designed and constructed for the purpose of
fighting fires. May be of different types such as engines, water tenders, ladder trucks, etc.
Available Fuel - That portion of the total fuel that would actually burn under various environmental conditions.
Back burn - Used in some localities to specify fire set to spread against the wind in prescribed burning.
Bambi Bucket ® - A collapsible bucket slung below a helicopter. Used to dip water from a variety of sources for fire suppression.
Brush - A collective term that refers to stands of vegetation dominated by shrubby, woody plants, or low growing trees.
Brush Fire - A fire burning in vegetation that is predominantly shrubs, brush, and scrub growth.
Closure - An administrative action limiting or prohibiting access to a specific geographic or jurisdictional area for the purposes of reducing wildfire or the risk it poses to life, property, and/or resources
Emergency Response Provider - Any federal, state, or local emergency public safety, law enforcement, emergency responder, emergency medical (including hospital emergency facilities), and related personnel, agencies, and authorities. It is any organization responding to an emergency, or providing mutual aid support to such an organization, whether in the field, at the scene of an incident, or operations center.
Fire Behavior - The manner in which a fire reacts to the influences of fuel, weather, and topography.
Fire Danger - Sum of constant danger and variable danger factors affecting the inception, spread, and resistance to control, and subsequent fire damage; often expressed as an index.
Fire Danger Rating Area - A geographic area of relatively homogenous climate, fuels and topography, tens of thousands of acres in size, within which the fire danger can be assumed to be uniform. The basic on-the-ground unit for which unique fire management decisions are made based on fire danger ratings. Weather is represented by one or more NFDRS weather stations.
Fire Management - Activities required for the protection of burnable wildland values from fire and the use of prescribed fire to meet land management objectives.
Fire Season - Period(s) of the year during which wildland fires are likely to occur, spread, and affect resources values sufficient to warrant organized fire management activities.
Fire Weather - Weather conditions which influence fire ignition, behavior, and suppression.
Fuel - Any combustible material, especially wildland fuels.
Fuels Management - Act or practice of controlling flammability and reducing resistance to control of wildland fuels through mechanical, chemical, biological, or manual means, or by fire, in support of land management objectives.
Fuelbreak - A natural or manmade change in fuel characteristics which affects fire behavior so that fires burning into them can be more readily controlled.
Hand Crew - A number of individuals that have been organized and trained and are supervised principally for operational assignments on an incident.
Hazardous Materials - A substance or material which has been determined by the Secretary of Transportation to be capable of posing an unreasonable risk to health, safety, and property when transported in commerce and which has been so designated.
Land/Resource Management Plan (L/RMP) - A document prepared with public participation and approved by an agency administrator that provides general guidance and direction for land and resource management activities for an administrative area. The L/RMP identifies the need for fire’s role in a particular area and for a specific benefit. The objectives in the L/RMP provide the basis for the development of fire management objective and the fire management program in the designated area.
Prescribed Fire - Any fire ignited by management actions to meet specific objectives. A written, approved prescribed fire plan must exist, and environmental analysis requirements (where applicable) must be met, prior to ignition.
Prescribed Fire Burn Plan - A plan required for each fire application ignited by management. Plans are documents prepared by qualified personnel, approved by the agency administrator, and include criteria for the conditions under which the fire will be conducted (a prescription).
Prescription - Measurable criteria that define conditions under which a prescribed fire may be ignited, guide selection of appropriate management responses, and indicate other required actions.
Remote Automatic Weather Station (RAWS) - A weather station that transmits weather observations via GOES satellite to the Wildland Fire Management Information system.
Structure Fire - Fire originating in and burning any part or all of any building, shelter, or other structure.
Wildfire - An unplanned, unwanted wildland fire including unauthorized human-caused fires, escaped prescribed fire projects, and all other wildland fires where the objective is to put the fire out.
Wildland - An area in which development is essentially non-existent, except for roads, railroads, powerlines, and similar transportation facilities. Structures, if any, are widely scattered.
Wildland Urban Interface (WUI) - The line, area, or zone where structures and other human development meet or intermingle with undeveloped wildland or vegetative fuels.