5th Symposium on Fire and Forest Meteorology and the 2nd International Wildland Fire Ecology and Fire Management Congress

Monday, 17 November 2003: 11:00 AM
Landscape level fire modeling
Charles W. McHugh, USDA Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Missoula, MT; and M. A. Finney and D. A. Stephen
Fire managers are often asked to evaluate, display or justify the effectiveness of planned treatments in reducing or positively affecting fire growth, fire behavior and intensity post-treatment. In most cases prescribed fire, mechanical treatments or some combination of both are often proposed to accomplish these objectives. However, previous treatments have not always been designed with the goal of reducing fire behavior and intensity, nor have these treatments always been placed on the landscape at a position to effectively mitigate fire growth. In the past, fire managers relied on their experience or the use of models such as BEHAVE to display and evaluate anticipated changes in fire growth, behavior and intensity. Other models such as NEXUS or FMA Suite link existing models of surface fire spread with crownfire prediction models providing output of site-specific indices of crownfire hazard. Neither BEHAVE, NEXUS, or FMA Suite are inherently spatial in nature. Availability of spatial data required for use in fire behavior prediction models for use in fire management is increasing, thus allowing fire managers to use spatially explicit models such as FARSITE or FlamMap. These models allow for the evaluation of treatment effects on potential fire growth and fire behavior and intensity at the landscape level. However, managers are often unsure which model to use, how to use it, how to interpret the outputs or use them in project design and fuel treatment placement. In this paper we discuss the different models strengths and weaknesses and considerations in the spatial placement of treatments across a landscape.

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