Resource Advisor’s, known as a READ or REAF (resource advisor, fireline), play an import advisory role in managing wildfires. Their job is to try to minimize the impacts of the fire, and especially fire suppression actions, on sensitive natural resources. They work with the local management unit to identify what these may be and then with the fire personnel to develop ways to try to protect them. These protective actions may including flagging sensitive areas to avoid with machinery, advising on firing strategies to minimize impacts from burnouts in specific locations, implementing measures to avoid the introduction of invasive species, and wrapping historic structures with protective material to keep them from burning. When a fire is burning in a designated Wilderness, they consult with the incident management team on suppression methods to minimize effects to Wilderness values.
Once portions of a fire have been contained and are secure, they also help guide the repair work that must be done. Many different types of repair work take place. For example, in the photo at right you can see REAF Brady Dodd uncovering a seismometer site that was avoided during dozer line work. It is a big task to repair the hundreds of miles of fireline on a fire the size of the Bobcat, and it must be done in a way that minimizes further damage. These lines include both dozer line, as seen below, and handline. READs develop the repair standards and guide that work. These typically involve rolling berms back in place, establishing erosion control features, and seeding. Every fire has its own unique set of repair tasks that must be undertaken.
A familiar refrain during the Bobcat fire has been that there is a shortage of resources because of the scale and intensity of the fire season. This situation also applies to READs. Typically, two REAFs would be assigned to every division to work with the crews and advise the Division Supervisor while other READs worked at camp. In the first week or so of the fire there were only four READ/REAFs assigned to the Bobcat to do the work that 12 to 15 people would normally be assigned to do. Those who were here worked extremely hard at coordinating so that fire suppression could be carried out while causing as few impacts as possible to sensitive natural resources.