Since 2008, the Fire, Fuel, and Smoke Science Program has worked with the University of Montana, the University of Idaho, and the Rocky Mountain Research Station’s Wildland Fire Management RD&A Program in a University-Forest Service partnership with a mission to improve the management of wildland fire by integrating science, technology, education, and practical experience. Through the Wildland Fire Science Partnership, the FFS and Partners work to increase core fire and fuel science; produce timely, reliable, and consistent fire and fuel information; increase access to critical data and applications; and develop the skills and capabilities of future fire managers. We are helping students gain fire knowledge and experience, giving them a competitive edge for professional positions after graduation.
For example, the partners recently developed a mapping system for the western United States, which managers can use to help evaluate potential risks and fire effects, and they completed a new web-enabled spatially referenced version of the Fire Effects Information System (FEIS) national database for disseminating fire science to managers and students. As significantly, the Fire Lab regularly hosts students so they can experience lab-based state-of-the-art fire research, as well as accompany fire-research experts into the field.
Of particular significance has been the participation of students in prescribed burning in Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Georgia and Nebraska. These travels into the field with Fire Lab researchers and other partners provide students with hands-on opportunities to learn about ecologically based fire management, effective collaboration, and prescribed fire operations while they gain fire experience and training.
In addition to the formal and informal partnerships with the universities of Idaho and Montana, The FFS Science Program hosts student groups and graduate students from across the nation. For example, we have had a group from Texas A&M as well as graduate students from Kentucky and Virginia. We frequently host student interns, working to gain experience during their undergraduate and graduate programs.