- Determine the intended use: The
Fire Danger Pocket Card was originally conceived to brief out of area
resources as well as local crews. The day to day tracking of the
current fire danger can best be done by displaying climatology graphs at the
local unit offices. PocketCards should be constructed to communicate
initial situational awareness to firefighters. The index/fuel
model/weather station set on the card must match the index/fuel
model/weather station set provided with the daily radio weather
broadcast. A PocketCard is a valuable tool only if the value for the
index on the card is provided daily.
- Determine the area of applicability of a particular card:
Does it represent a fire danger rating area, a predictive service area, an
administrative unit, a sub-geographical region, a watershed, a fire weather
forecast zone, a protection zone, fire climate zone, etc.?
- Once the above are established:
- Determine which weather station best represents the area of
The number of weather stations
depends on the size of the area represented by the PocketCard, the
length and quality of the station record, and operational constraints at
the local unit.
>The station should depict the near worst case potential in the
area it is to represent.
The station selected should have at least 10
data, twenty or more is preferred. PocketCards with less than
10 years of data should provide text information explaining that the
card is based on limited years of data and may not represent the most
serious conditions the area could experience.
Individual data records should be reviewed
carefully to insure they are relatively clean with no gross errors (such as
30 inches of rain in a day or 120 miles per hour winds). These kinds
of errors can significantly skew the historical climatological breakpoints
and seasonal trend patterns.
- Determine what fuel model and index best meets the intended use of
At a minimum, PocketCards need to relate
directly to daily operations and indices with which people are
familiar. That is, the fuel model and fire danger rating index
must be the same as what is referred to in daily briefings and weather
reports. If possible, the fuel model and index should be selected
through a fire business analysis using FireFamily Plus software. (Click
here to download the latest version of FireFamily Plus).
Because the card is meant to enhance
situational awareness and firefighter safety, whatever fuel model and
index are used, they need to be defined and rigorously
supported with daily information to the field.
Make as few cards as possible to
represent an area. If multiple cards are necessary they should
represent adjacent parts of an area. Avoid creating multiple cards
representing different fuel models and indices for the same area, as
this can be confusing and send conflicting messages. Keep in
mind, NFDRS indices and components reflect general conditions and do not
predict fire behavior for a specific area.
ERC is a good indicator of the overall
fire danger resulting from local fuel moisture conditions. This
component is useful in tracking seasonal trends or communicating
expected fire danger to local resources who have familiarity that
allows them to associate the numeric values with real life experiences
in the area. ERC values are sometimes hard for incoming
firefighters to relate to if they are from an area where fuel loading
and dryness are not the primary contributors to fire danger.
BI reflects changes in fine fuel moisture
content and wind speed and is highly variable from day to day. BI
may be applicable in situations where the intended application is to
brief incoming firefighters who may not have local experience in the
area since it can loosely be translated into the expected flame length
by dividing the BI by 10. BI may be more appropriate for
short-term reference to fire danger such as an incident action plan
Years to Remember
The FireFamily Plus software allows the users
to overlay two
years for comparison of fire danger conditions. One should be a year
with relatively high fire danger and the other with low fire danger.
Both years should be recent, to give the local firefighter a point of
FireFamily also allows one to plot
memorable fires which occurred in either of these two years to associate
them with fire danger conditions. These fires do not have to be located
above the dashed threshold value; many significant fires occur below this
level. Make sure that the fires selected
have weather data associated with the date the fire started or else it will
not be plotted in the correct location.
In the background of both seasonal trend
charts on the PocketCard is a
red-yellow-green color scheme. These colors serve to interpret what
type of firefighting activity is generally possible given a value of the
fire danger index within that band. The interpretations are found in
the upper right quadrant next to the traffic light. The traffic light
is like a hauling chart. It suggests that red means "stop,"
or "direct control by any means is not likely"; yellow means
"caution," or "this is your upper limit of
effectiveness"; green means "go," or "proceed but always
be wary of change." The width of each color band should be
adjusted to reflect local conditions.
- Critical Local Thresholds
Critical threshold values for temperature, relative humidity, wind and live
fuel moisture conditions should be determined through analysis of fire
business using Fire Family Plus. Identify the values commonly present
for these measures at the time of larger or problem fires. Other
critical threshold values, for measures such as 1000 hr Fuel Moisture, can be
determined, where appropriate, and added to the narrative.
This text entry is a very important part of the card.
The intent of this section is to supplement, if necessary, information shown
on the adjacent Years to Remember chart and to highlight unique local events
that influence fire danger and large fire potential (sundowners, east winds,
Include on the last line of the text the
effective date of the PocketCard. This will help ensure that individuals have the
most current card available.
Cards can be updated as frequently as needed by downloading the additional weather
observations, amending the Fire Family Plus database, and running new cards.
Pocket Cards based on stations with a dataset of 10 years or less should be
updated annually, while cards with more data (10 years or more) should be
updated every other year.
Bad observations should be deleted from the database, not corrected through
interpolation. Badly corrupted or incomplete record sets can be cleaned
and filled through the Western Regional Climatic Center.
- Printing and Distribution
Cards should be printed on high quality, color reproduction paper.
They can be copied in black and white; however, notes may need to be added to
the cards to provide clarity for the graphical display. Lamination is
suggested to protect the cards.
DO NOT distribute the cards without an interpretive briefing.
An explanation of the card and how to interpret NFDRS outputs is
critical to its success as a situational awareness tool for the firefighter.