NFDRS PocketCards

Weather - Fire Behavior
Page Last Modified / Reviewed: 
Jun 2020


The PocketCard is a tool for field personnel to locally track outputs of the National Fire Danger Rating System (NFDRS) throughout the fire season. It is based on current and historical weather for a localized area and the area’s historic fire occurrence.  The PocketCard displays a general assessment of the fire potential and identifies combinations of local weather and fuel conditions that might contribute to severe fire behavior.

The PocketCard provides:

  • A general indicator of the potential fire danger for a given rating or protection area.
  • A graph showing the trend and status of the current year’s fire season.
  • A comparison of current year conditions to historical worst and average conditions.
  • Fire danger values related to past large or problem fires.
  • Critical local thresholds for temperature, humidity, wind speed, and fuel moistures associated with large or problem fires.

Discuss the following ways to use the PocketCard:

  • Use it primarily before fires occur, before arriving at a fire.  It is also useful during initial fire size-up, initial attack, and extended attack.
  • Use it to learn of critical thresholds that predict the potential for extreme fire behavior for the local area.  Be aware that local critical thresholds may be occurring earlier in the season.  
  • Use it to compare current and predicted local fire danger to historical local fire danger to enhance situational awareness. 
  • Use it to track daily fire danger indices that gauge the potential for weather and fuels to support extreme fire behavior, and of the difficulty of control.
  • Use it to supplement local experience.
  • Use it as a point of reference for firefighters not familiar with the area represented by the card.
  • When you receive a fire assignment outside your local area, visit the National PocketCard website at where PocketCards are filed by Geographic Area.
  • Put it in the pocket of all your firefighters and keep one in your fire vehicle.
  • Post it in dispatch. Use them in briefings. Provide them to incoming crews.
  • Do not use the PocketCard for site-specific fire behavior predictions and fireline actions or without an interpretive briefing.
  • Review definitions and implications of ERC (energy release component) and BI (burning index) values.


Additional Resources

Incident Management Situation Report (IMSR)
Incident Response Pocket Guide (IRPG), PMS 461
NWCG Standards for Helicopter Operations, PMS 510
RT-130, Wildland Fire Safety Training Annual Refresher (WFSTAR)
Interagency Standards for Fire and Fire Aviation Operations (Red Book)
Wildland Fire Lessons Learned Center

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