New era of wildfire-fighting combines a century of strategies


Jason Krell

In an article for Slate magazine’s “Future Tense” section, Arizona State University School of Life Sciences Regents’ Professor Stephen Pyne discusses how a century of fighting wildfires with different methods have come together to create a new approach.

“The New Approach to Fighting Wildfires” details three firefighting methods and explains the circumstances that led to their creation. From the early 20th century’s “resistance” method of stopping all fires, the 1960s era “restoration” technique of prescribed burning and the modern day’s “resilience” approach focusing on letting fires burn-out, Pyne says today’s wildfire fighting strategies have drastically shifted.

While Pyne notes the newness of the “resilience” method, he also stresses that none of the three methods are inherently superior to the others. Instead, all should be used where most applicable. Pyne writes that the “resistance” method is best when communities are threatened, “restoration” should be used to stave off bad burns and “resilience” should be chosen when letting nature take its course.