Fire Regions/ Geographic Areas
If you are confused about the regions fire is divided into here are two maps to help you out.
For fire purposes the US Forest Service is divided into nine regions. There is no region 7. At one point there was one, but it was absorbed into neighboring regions years ago. They don’t all follow state lines so that’s something to be aware of. Hawaii is technically part of Region 5. These regions include 154 national forests and 20 grasslands. So now you’ll understand if someone tells you they worked in Region 2 or R2.
The geographic areas don’t follow the exact lines as the USFS regions.
These are known by their descriptive locations and are also known as geographic area coordinating centers or GACCs. For example the Rocky Mountain Area Coordination Center is abbreviated RMCC. Each one is interagency and has dispatch centers and a specific preparedness level. Preparedness levels range from 1-5, 5 being the highest, and are abbreviated as PL1, for example. The level depends on weather, fuels, fire activity, and fire resources available. PL1 means there are few fires, weather not conducive to fire growth, and there are lots of fire resources available. PL5 basically means that there are numerous large, destructive fires happening, weather continues to fuel fire growth and new starts, and fire resources are committed with few or none available to go to new fires or help contain growing incidents. There is one national PL as well as geographic PLs.
Every day during fire season a Situation Report (SIT Report) is issued that gives updates to PL levels, large fire sizes in each GACC, new fires, and which fires were contained. Every fire job I’ve worked we read the SIT Report out loud every morning we can to get an idea of what’s happening around the country fire-wise.
The GACC website is a great place to poke around to understand what’s in each area as well as the key resources for weather, lightning maps, staffing, dispatch centers, preparedness, fire predictions, seasonal outlooks, and ongoing incidents (fires) in each. Some of these things won’t make sense until you’re in fire, but there is a ton of information that can be found there. It’s good to know it exists.