Development of Fuel & Fire Behavior Training material

The National Interagency Fuel Technology Transfer team—NIFTT, as it was known until recently—contracted with Pyrologix to produce fuel and fire behavior modeling training materials for fire and fuel planners. For the project Pyrologix produced two training courses and a comprehensive document laying the foundation for operational wildfire behavior modeling as it is practiced in the United States. All of this material can be found at the website of NIFTT’s new home, the Fuel and Fire Ecology (FFE) section of the Wildland Fire Research, Development and Application (WFMRDA) project.

  1. The first course (FBFM40) pertains to the set of 40 surface fuel models developed by Joe Scott and Robert Burgan in 2005. The course consists of three lessons totaling about three hours. This course is the best available online introduction to the set of 40 fuel models. Please visit the WFMRDA-FFE Courses & Registration page if you wish to take this free online course.
  2. The second course (Nomographs) is also a four-lesson, three-hour introduction to the new nomograph format introduced, in 2007, in this publication. A nomograph is a graph-based method of making a complex calculation. Although the prevalence of highly portable computers means that nobody ever really needs to use a nomograph, they are nonetheless very useful for quickly seeing the sensitivity of fire behavior predictions to fuel moisture and wind speed inputs. Please visit the WFMRDA-FFE Courses & Registration page if you wish to take this free online course.
  3. The final component of the training material was the production of a comprehensive document describing the foundation for operational fire behavior modeling as employed in dozens of software systems. The document, simply titled “Introduction to Fire Behavior Modeling”, provides the foundation upon which to build fire behavior modeling experience gained during an apprenticeship under a master or journey-level fire behavior modeler. The document is available at the WFMRDA-FFE Reference Material page; it can also be downloaded here.

Wildfire Threat to Key Resources on the Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest

Following a severe bark beetle outbreak, the TEAMS Enterprise unit conducted a “Rapid Assessment of Management Opportunities” for the Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest (BDNF). As part of that assessment, TEAMS partnered with Pyrologix to conduct a multi-resource wildfire risk assessment. For this project, we adapted a quantitative risk assessment approach developed for national application to meet the needs of the BDNF. The objective of this assessment was to identify potential vegetation management opportunities to meet forest plan objectives (protect and enhance key resources). This was accomplished by quantifying threat and benefit in the analysis area and summarizing those results to the BDNF planning units. View the PDF here.

Quantifying the Threat of Unsuppressed Wildfires Reaching Adjacent Wildland-Urban Interface

Over the last few years, Pyrologix has focused its work on applying fire science to find solutions to real land management problems. The management applications themselves are often worthy of sharing with a larger audience. On a number of its U.S. Forest Service projects, Pyrologix has worked with colleagues at the Rocky Mountain Research Station to publish, in journal articles and technical reports, the results of its application-oriented projects, information that would otherwise remain in the files of a local land management unit.

In 2012, the Aldo Leopold Wilderness Research Institute funded the preparation of a manuscript entitled “Quantifying the threat of unsuppressed wildfires reaching the adjacent wildland-urban interface on the Bridger-Teton National Forest, Wyoming, USA”. The manuscript was based on work we did for the Bridger-Teton National Forest with our partner at the TEAMS Enterprise unit. We used a stochastic wildfire simulator, called FSim, to assess the potential for wildfires igniting in a relatively remote area of the landscape to reach areas of residential development. The resulting manuscript is available here.

Tetons Interagency Wildfire Risk Assessment (TIARA)

When most people hear the words “Grand Teton”, they conjure an image of impossibly steep mountains of rock and ice. We’re not most people. We see the Tetons and think about wildfire—how it affects the resources and assets on the landscape. In 2011, Pyrologix partnered with the TEAMS Enterprise Unit of the U.S. Forest Service to carry out an interagency wildfire risk assessment for Grand Teton National Park and the Bridger-Teton National Forest. We collected historical weather and fire occurrence data; pulled together spatial information on fuel, vegetation, and topography; guided land managers in the selection and characterization of resources and assets at risk of damage by wildfire; and simulated wildfire occurrence, growth, suppression and intensity across a landscape spanning nearly 20 million acres. We then pulled all of this information together into a comprehensive, interagency, multi-resource assessment of wildfire hazard and risk. The project was documented in this internal report, and was used to illustrate the landscape-scale risk assessment process in this publication.