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Fire Terminology: What does Containment Actually Mean & More...

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When wildfires occur, a lot of terminology is thrown around. Here are some of the more commonly heard words defined by the Glossary of Wildland Fire Terminology from the National Wildfire Coordinating Group, a conglomerate of federal agencies.

Contained
1. The status of a wildfire suppression action signifying that a control line has been completed around the fire, and any associated spot fires, which can reasonably be expected to stop the fire’s spread.

Containment
1. The status of a wildfire suppression action signifying that a control line has been completed around the fire, and any associated spot fires, which can reasonably be expected to stop the fire’s spread.
2. The act of controlling hazardous spilled or leaking materials.

Control Line
1. An inclusive term for all constructed or natural barriers and treated fire edges used to control a fire.

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KnockDown
1. To reduce the flame or heat on the more vigorously burning parts of a fire edge.

Unified Command
1. In ICS, unified command is a unified team effort which allows all agencies with jurisdictional responsibility for the incident, either geographical or functional, to manage an incident by establishing a common set of incident objectives and strategies. This is accomplished without losing or abdicating authority, responsibility, or accountability.

Incident Command System (ICS)
1. A standardized on-scene emergency management concept specifically designed to allow its user(s) to adopt an integrated organizational structure equal to the complexity and demands of single or multiple incidents, without being hindered by jurisdictional boundaries.

Mutual Aid
1. Assistance in firefighting or investigation by fire agencies, without regard for jurisdictional boundaries.

Mutual Aid Agreement
1. Written agreement between agencies and/or jurisdictions in which they agree to assist one another upon request, by furnishing personnel and equipment.

Brush Fire
1. A fire burning in vegetation that is predominantly shrubs, brush, and scrub growth.

Wildland Fire
1. Any non-structure fire that occurs in the wildland. Three distinct types of wildland fire have been defined and include wildfire, wildland fire use, and prescribed fire.

Wildfire
1. An unplanned, unwanted wildland fire including unauthorized human-caused fires, escaped wildland fire use events, escaped prescribed fire projects, and all other wildland fires where the objective is to put the fire out.

Prescribed Fire
1. Any fire ignited by management actions to meet specific objectives. A written, approved prescribed fire plan must exist, and NEPA requirements (where applicable) must be met, prior to ignition.

Wildland Fire Use
1. The application of the appropriate management response to naturally-ignited wildland fires to accomplish specific resource management objectives in pre-defined designated areas outlined in Fire Management Plans. Operational management is described in the Wildland Fire Implementation Plan (WFIP).

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Backfire
1. A fire set along the inner edge of a fireline to consume the fuel in the path of a wildfire or change the direction of force of the fire's convection column.