Wildfire’s economic, ecological and social impacts are on the rise, fostering the realisation that business-as-usual fire management in the United States is not sustainable. Current response strategies may be inefficient and contributing to unnecessary responder exposure to hazardous conditions, but significant knowledge gaps constrain clear and comprehensive descriptions of how changes in response strategies and tactics may improve outcomes. As such, we convened a special session at an international wildfire conference to synthesise ongoing research focused on obtaining a better understanding of wildfire response decisions and actions. This special issue provides a collection of research that builds on those discussions. Four papers focus on strategic planning and decision making, three papers on use and effectiveness of suppression resources and two papers on allocation and movement of suppression resources. Here we summarise some of the key findings from these papers in the context of risk-informed decision making. This collection illustrates the value of a risk management framework for improving wildfire response safety and effectiveness, for enhancing fire management decision making and for ushering in a new fire management paradigm.