NFDRS PocketCards

Weather - Fire Behavior
Page Last Modified / Reviewed: 
Sep 2021


The National Fire Danger Rating System (NFDRS) PocketCard is a tool for field personnel to locally track fire potential throughout the season. It is based on historical weather and fire occurrence for a localized area. 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 notable fires.

Discuss the following ways to use the PocketCard:

  • Use it primarily before fires occur or before arriving at a fire. It is also useful during initial fire size-up, initial attack, and extended attack.
  • Use it to learn critical local area thresholds that predict the potential for extreme fire behavior. Be aware that these critical thresholds can occur earlier or later in the season.
  • Use it to compare current and predicted local fire danger to historical local fire danger for enhanced situation awareness.
  • Use it to track daily fire danger indices that gauge the potential for weather and fuels to support extreme fire behavior, as well as affect 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, where PocketCards are filed by geographic area.
  • Put it in the pocket of all your firefighters and keep one in each 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, fireline actions, or without an interpretive briefing.
  • Review definitions and implications of Energy Release Component (ERC) and Burning Index (BI) values.


Additional Resources

Incident Management Situation Report (IMSR)
10 Standard Firefighting Orders, PMS 110 
18 Watch Out Situations, PMS 118
10 & 18 Poster, PMS 110-18
NWCG Incident Response Pocket Guide (IRPG), PMS 461
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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