SALT LAKE CITY — High temperatures and severe drought have increased the risk and frequency of fires across the country, particularly in the West, leading national agencies responsible for fighting fires to raise the national preparedness level to 5, the highest possible level.
Level 5 is triggered when there are significant, complex fires in multiple areas around the country
which have the potential to exhaust national firefighting resources. Currently, at least 80 percent of the country’s firefighting personnel are committed to wild land fire incidents.
At this level, all fire-qualified federal employees become available for wildfire response, with most or all levels of the fire management organizations operating at maximum capacity or even in crisis mode.
Fire fighters are experiencing extreme stress, as Level 5 means the conditions affecting the nation's ability to fight fires could result in the following:
- The incident support system is maxed out.
- Resources needed to accomplish incident objectives are unavailable.
- Fatigue is impacting individuals at all levels of the organization.
- There is a sustained high operational tempo.
This is the earliest PL 5 in the past 10 years. In 2002, PL 5 was set on June 21 and in 2008, PL5 was set on July 1.
The National Multi-Agency Coordinating Group, or NMAC, is the group responsible for setting the preparedness level.