Preview Brief 2: Wildland Fire Management under COVID-19, Survey Results

Stoof, Cathelijne R.; Vries, Jasper R. de; Poortvliet, Marijn; Hannah, Bethany; Steffens, Ron; Moore, Peter


Wildland fire management is impacted by COVID-19 as a result of strict hygiene and social distancing requirements. Here, we give a preview of the of our online survey (link) that aimed to clarify implications of COVID-19 restrictions on wildland fire management, map current thinking, and collate any plans, protocols or procedures to generate generic guidance for wildland fire professionals. The survey was completed by 443 individuals from over 38 countries, working at a large variety of organizations in terms of organization type, level of jurisdiction, primary function, and the size of the fire management and fire suppression work force. This preview includes the most important preliminary results. In short, the data indicates that people are worried about the effect of COVID-19 on wildland fire management and also expect this to impede management. Despite this, there is high confidence that operations can be continued during the pandemic. COVID-19 hygiene and distancing requirements are being widely adopted, which is being reflected by a reduced number of staff per vehicle. There is an expected reduction in support services being available. Notable to mention is furthermore the expected reduction in sharing and receiving of resources (from and to other countries, regions) in times of need. Finally, training and risk reduction activities are also impacted, suggesting a longer-term impact of the pandemic on fire management. Two main concerns highlighted by survey respondents are the lack of preventive COVID-19 testing amongst wildland fire fighters, and the increased risk of vehicle accidents if staff is spread across more vehicles. We are now analyzing the wealth of responses including over 30.000 words of comments shared, and plan to publish the full analysis mid June