Texas Tech University

Project 0-6735

Best Practices for TxDOT on Handling Wildfires


wildfire near McDonald Observatory

Abstract

Texas saw a record-setting number of wildfires in 2010 and 2011. Personnel from the TexasDepartment of Transportation (TxDOT) are often called upon to provide support in responding towildfires, and the number of requests has increased dramatically over the past few years. TxDOT developed a draft Guidance Document for Wildfire Response, but personnel are frequently asked to
perform services not specifically addressed in that document. TxDOT took advantage of the recentincrease in wildfire response experiences to document the lessons learned from wildfire events andstudy the role of TxDOT in the mitigation, containment, and response to wildfires. The objective of thisresearch project was to develop a protocol to help TxDOT effectively respond to wildfire situations thatmay occur in the state, and to present the protocol in the form of "Best Practices" based on information gathered from many sources both within TxDOT and from agencies outside the department. Using theinformation collected, researchers developed a training course for TxDOT personnel who deal withwildfire situations. A pilot course was presented to the Project Monitoring Committee, and based onfeedback from that pilot course, six training modules were developed to present as training for TxDOTsupervisors, assistants, and district safety coordinators. A significant and repeated finding is thatTxDOT employees are not expected to fight fires directly and have no such responsibilities. Emphasison employee safety is paramount.

Project PI: Sanjaya Senadheera

Project Co-PI's:

Phillip T. Nash
J. Micah Beierle

Project Researchers:

Wesley J. Kumfer
Dannia Wilson

Contact

Center for Multidisciplinary Research in Transportation (TechMRT)