Dominant Paradigm of Fire Control: Solution or Problem?
Several issues in forest and Wildland management have become a paradigm with references from the popular press regarding forest and Wildland fire. A number of ideological conceptions of the world construct perceptions and undermine efforts to reduce or control wild fires. These conceptions presuppose events in a “natural world” that is really a human control and limited space. Many of these conceptions structure how human activities are planned in “natural” or “wild” areas as suburban sprawl continues. These conceptions also structure how fires are perceived to originate and spread defeating fire fighting and planning for fire control. This paper shows how these activities actually promote fire and are creating conditions for more expensive and intense fires. One of the central ideas to today’s seasonal wild fires is that they have resulted from years of fire suppression and a buildup of biomass. This is contradicted by pollen analysis, fire regimes and the concentration of the most extensive fires in the past 20 years after fire management philosophies had changed to allow for periodic control burns. A human “fire adapted” ecosystem has been created and is being spread and complicated by planning and fire suppression activities. Fire suppression history and its relation to wildfire, defensive space and prescribed burns have become concepts entrenched in the public mind. Whether scientific evidence supports these beliefs and what consequences result is reviewed. Evidence is presented concerning bias in firefighter’s choice of homes to defend that may skew data on home survival.