Eighth Symposium on Fire and Forest Meteorology


The fire behaviour knowledge base (FBKB)

Rob McAlpine, Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources, Sault Ste Marie, ON, Canada; and B. M. Wotton

Currently operational fire behavior prediction is done using systems based on one of three modelling approaches: physical, semi-empirical, and empirical. Each one of these methods brings with it both positives and negatives that both enhance and limit its application in field prediction situations. Over the past several years we have been developing a Knowledge Database, containing field observations of fuels complex, weather and fire behavior from a variety of sources collected over decades of fire research and fire management operations. Within the Knowledge Base, users describe a fuel complex of interest to them in terms of the fuel layers and structures important to fire spread (overstory, understory, surface fuel, etc.) and a search engine finds all the similar fuel complexes recorded to date. Users select sites from the list of “hits” that match their own fuel complex and then view the observational data. Observational data includes not only quantitative and qualitative information about the fuel, weather, and behaviour of fires burning in that fuel complex, but also pictures, video, and documents (e.g. case studies, reports etc). Users thus have access to data in a vastly different and more robust way than ever before. One of the great strengths of this knowledgebase is it is designed to grow, as field users, from anywhere in the world, document their observations of fire behaviour. Local observations can be entered and uploaded to the master database for all users to access. In this way the available fire behaviour “knowledge” continually grows and the community of individuals predicting fire behaviour have a forum within which to share knowledge.

The Fire Behaviour Knowledge Base extends beyond the current fire behaviour prediction systems by allowing users to view real world fuel complexes and fire behaviour and compare with existing model projections to determine best choice models for local conditions. This is the first use of “Wiki” based technology to support fire management operations.

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wrf recording  Recorded presentation

Session 8, Smoke and Fire Decision Support Tool Development
Wednesday, 14 October 2009, 3:30 PM-5:00 PM, Ballroom B

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