Response Types and Stages of Control

Incident Response Types and Stages of Control are key operational terms within the BC Wildfire Service. They are used to discuss and report on incidents, and to manage wildfires.

In 2017, the BC Wildfire Service made adjustments to the terms used to describe Response Types and Stages of Control. The adjustments were made to align with that of the Canadian Interagency Forest Fire Centre (CIFFC) and to reflect the direction that fire agencies are taking throughout the country. The changes did not alter how we do our business operationally. By aligning with CIFFC and national standards, communications across provincial and international boundaries have been improved.

Table 1: Fire Response Type

Full Response

The wildfire requires immediate initial attack and/or sustained suppression action until the fire is declared “out”.

Modified Response

The wildfire is managed using a combination of suppression techniques, including direct and indirect attack, and monitoring to steer, contain or otherwise manage fire activity within a pre-determined perimeter (to minimize costs and/or damage and to maximize benefits from the fire).


The wildfire is observed and assessed to determine the appropriate response option to minimize social disruption and/or significant impacts on values and resources, while achieving beneficial ecological, economic or resource management objectives.

Table 2: Fire Stage of Control

Out of Control

Describes a wildfire that is not responding (or only responding on a limited basis) to suppression action, such that the perimeter spread is not being contained.

In 2016, the terms “Initial Attack” and "Expanded Attack"  were used to describe this situation.

Being Held

Indicates that (with the resources currently committed to the fire) sufficient suppression action has been taken that the fire is not likely to spread beyond existing or predetermined boundaries under the prevailing and forecasted conditions.

In 2016, the terms “Expanded Attack” and "Mop up" were used to describe this situation.

Under Control

The fire has received sufficient suppression action to ensure no further spread of the fire.

In 2016, the terms “100% contained” and "Patrol" were used to describe this situation.


The fire has been extinguished.


If you have any questions regarding these changes, please contact your local Fire Information Officer.