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Draft fire template with FAA elevation

I spent some time during a fire toward the end of the Pacific Northwest season working on a draft template to replace the standard one used for printed map products on wildland fires. There is certainly precedent for spending more time making the template than on making a good map — just add lots of logos, lots of names, lots of other information irrelevant to fighting fire. I do not want to perpetuate such things by handing another team my projects based on a non-standard template.

But I did want to take a shot, even just for fun, at upgrading the standard template. I want to improve a few notable issues:

  • The painfully slow performance of text updates due to its use of complex, dynamic text boxes in ArcGIS Pro;
  • The need to move individual boxes around inside the neat line depending on map content, sometimes triggering that slowness in Pro;
  • The use of fonts that make it look relatively boring and staid; and
  • The sometimes inability to see a rolled map’s title and timestamp.

The draft above (a fairly small view of the upper portion of a map intended to be plotted at 36″x48″) shows the header outside the neat line. It is intended to be horizontal on portrait maps and rotated 270 degrees on landscape maps, thereby keeping the header on the outside of a tightly rolled map.

The text boxes are more numerous so contain fewer dynamic fields per box. Only the legend remains to be relocated within the map, plus the coordinate table on airops maps.

The large title is a sans-serif font, while the remainder is a serif font. This alone brings the overall look of the document forward a decade or two. The title is the most important piece of information, followed by the operational period for which the map is current. Other information like the GIS Specialist responsible and even the name of the fire are far less important data to everyone involved, from the firefighters and pilots to the incident commander.

Along with the template change, this map includes two additional upgrades I have been playing with. As with most of our airops maps this season, it uses Pro’s table feature to draft point data directly from the relevant table in the open white box at upper left; it takes some work to get the coordinates to display effectively, but it seems better than exporting to Excel, formatting and importing as a table.

Also, the DEM is set to the FAA standard color table for navigational charts by elevation; this works in relatively mountainous areas but would be unimpressive in flatter areas. Here are the colors and elevations in feet:

Approximate color (hex)Minimum elevation (feet)Maximum elevation (feet)

Glacier-covered area is supposed to be white. Given the rare need for this in wildland fire, I have not yet played with that. However, it should be simple to take the state hydrology data, filter it for glaciers and use that to cover the DEM in those areas.