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Date: December 09, 2014 Author: Brandon Winters

In news reports, wildfires are often discussed in terms of how they affect humans, but fires in the wild can impact wildlife as much as they impact people. According to the National Wildlife Federation (NWF), wildfires can negatively affect wildlife in five major ways. They can make it impossible for animals to escape the flames, destroy natural habitats, seriously alter natural habitats, prolong the fire recovery process and create major imbalances in the ecosystem.

Make It Impossible to Escape Flames

Depending on the weather conditions and combustible material at the burn site, a wildfire can burn in a circular formation and gradually move toward the center of the circle. When a fire has this pattern, it becomes impossible for animals to escape the flames and smoke. A wildland firefighter who extinguishes a part of the burn pattern can help animals escape. Firefighter's Handbook on Wildland Firefighting, 3rd Ed. teaches wildland firefighters about burn patterns.

Destroy Natural Habitats

Some wildland fires are so intense and burn for so long that they destroy the habitat where they ignite. A habitat completely ravaged by fire looks similar to a nuclear wasteland. The ground is covered with ash, little to no greenery is visible and fragments of charred wood lay all around. Firefighter's Handbook on Wildland Firefighting, 3rd Ed. provides wildland firefighters with essential firefighting skills that help save habitats before they go up in smoke.

Seriously Alter Natural Habitats

In many situations, a wildfire destroys only a portion of a natural habitat. For example, a fire may burn along one side of a major river and leave the other side unscorched. In addition to serving as natural fire barriers, rivers and other water bodies can provide wildland firefighters with water to extinguish flames. Firefighter's Handbook on Wildland Firefighting, 3rd Ed. addresses how to “draft” water from natural sources and use it to battle wildfire blazes.

Prolong Fire Recovery

The more damage a conflagration brings, the harder it is for a habitat to recover. A loss of plant life can make it difficult for animals to feed and nest, and a loss of animal life and insect life can make it hard for animals to feed and plants to pollinate. Scientific measures can be taken to help restore habitats after fires, but these strategies themselves can take a long time to achieve a noticeable effect and typically require lots of capital to implement.

Create Ecosystem Imbalances

Exceptionally large wildfires can lead to longstanding ecosystem imbalances. These imbalances often result from the extermination of certain plants and animals in the ecosystem, a situation that can cause imbalances in the food chain. In some cases, scientists reintroduce exterminated species to an ecosystem ravaged by fire after it has recovered enough to support them. However, even when this strategy is used, restoring the ecosystem to its previous state can take years.    

Interested in fighting wildfires?

The National Wildlife Federation reports that wildfires are increasing due to global warming. This means that fire departments in areas where wildfires are common may need to hire additional wildland firefighters. If you are firefighter who is interested in adding wildland firefighting experience to your resume, reading Firefighter's Handbook on Wildland Firefighting, 3rd Ed. will help you achieve your goal. Visit our online store and order your copy today.
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