5.3 Fire behavior and fire danger systems—the evolution continues

Wednesday, 24 October 2007: 10:45 AM
The Turrets (Atlantic Oakes Resort)
Patricia L. Andrews, US Forest Service Research, Missoula, MT

Fire behavior prediction and fire danger rating systems are used for many critical fire management applications including suppression tactics on a wildfire, prescribed fire planning, fuel hazard assessment, and pre-suppression readiness. Among the systems currently available are the BehavePlus fire modeling system, FlamMap fire behavior mapping and analysis system, FARSITE fire area simulator, FSPro fire spread probability, FireFamily Plus for historical analysis of fire danger and weather data, and the WFAS Wildland Fire Assessment System. These systems have evolved as a result of improved fire models and computer technology. The evolution will continue through enhanced consolidation and strengthened linkages among them.

An historical view describes the predecessors of these systems that were replaced or retired as the result of new development. FireFamilyPlus, for example, replaced five old programs. Development of the fire behavior and fire danger fuel models is described. A chronology is given for development of fire behavior systems from nomograms through the BehavePlus fire modeling system. The development and relationship among the spatial fire behavior systems FlamMap, FARSITE, and FSPro is described.

Current relationships among the systems involve common fire models and shared data files. For example, FireFamilyPlus produces weather files for FARSITE. But differences among the systems, such as fire danger vs. fire behavior fuel models, cause confusion in application. Differences in user interfaces increases the learning time for users. Specific opportunities and suggestions for the continued evolution of fire behavior and fire danger systems are presented.

The scope of this paper is necessarily limited and is recognized to be part of a much larger picture. This discussion is meant to contribute to an examination of the future integration of other fire modeling systems and weather data systems.

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