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Are You A Wildland Firefigher With Stories To Tell?

RENO, NV – Researchers at Nevada’s Desert Research Institute (DRI) want to hear your wildfire stories, and they’ve provided an app for your smartphone to do it.

As part of a research collaborative with the Wildland Fire Management Research, Development and Application (RD&A) program, the newly launched “Fire Stories” project is an effort to understand extreme and unexpected wildfire behavior through human experience.

“Any wildland firefighter can share; both current and retired can contribute,” said Tamara Wall, Ph.D., a social scientist at the Western Regional Climate Center, located on DRI’s Reno campus. “We need all the stories we can get, from all geographic regions, stories from the past as well as recent stories. We want stories from firefighters with decades of experience to those in their first year of fighting wildland fires.”

The project initiated from phrases that are becoming more and more common amongst wildland firefighters tackling extreme blazes, said Wall. Such as Arizona’s Yarnell Hill Fire that killed 19 elite Hotshots in July of last year; or Yosemite’s notorious Rim Fire, which grew to more than 10,000 acres in less than 36 hours last August and is the largest fire on record in the Sierra Nevada.

“‘I’ve never seen a fire act like that before’ or ‘I see a lot more of that kind of fire behavior now’ are what we’re trying to understand,” said Wall.

Researchers at DRI and the Wildland Fire Management RD&A plan to integrate social science research techniques with the production of climate knowledge and application of data analysis to understand how wildfire behavior has changed in recent years and what those changes mean for wildland firefighters, agency managers and on-the-ground decision makers.

Firefighters can share their stories online at www.dri.edu/firestories or through the SenseMaker Andriod or iPhone app available on most smartphones.

For more information about the Fire Stories project visit www.dri.edu/firestories

About Desert Research Institute: DRI, the nonprofit research campus of the Nevada System of Higher Education, strives to be the world leader in environmental sciences through the application of knowledge and technologies to improve people’s lives throughout Nevada and the world.

About Wildland Fire Management RD&A: The Wildland Fire Management Research, Development, and Application (WFM RD&A) program was created to promote application of wildland fire scientific knowledge; develop decision support tools; and provide science application services to the interagency wildland fire community. The WFM RD&A serves as a primary point of contact for communication between scientists and participating field fire managers, as a liaison between research, wildland fire planning and operations, interagency wildland fire IT groups, and as an advisor to program administrators at local, regional, and national levels.

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