International Association of Wildland Fire

3rd Fire Behavior and Fuels Conference
Beyond Fire Behavior and Fuels:
Learning from the Past to Help Guide Us in the Future

October 25-29, 2010  ~  Red Lion Hotel at the Park

Spokane, Washington USA

Online Registration

Pre-Conference Workshop Schedule

MONDAY MORNING, October 25th, 8:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.

View Workshop Schedule and Descriptions as PDF

Workshop 1
Suit of Fuel Management Tools: Fuel Characteristics Classification System, National Fuels Photo Series, Digital Photo Series and Consume 3.0
Roger Ottmar and Susan Prichard, Pacific Wildland Fire Science Lab, Seattle, WA

The Fire and Environmental Research Applications team (FERA) of the Pacific Wildland Fire Sciences Laboratory has developed a suite of five fuel management products that will be demonstrated at this workshop. This suite includes the Fuel Characteristics Classification System (FCCS 2_1), Natural Fuels Photo Series, Digital Photo Series, Consume 3_0, and a web-based pile calculator. These five tools work together and allow users to characterize fuelbeds, assess potential fire hazard and surface fire behavior, and estimate the amount of fuel consumed and emissions produced if burned during a wildland fire.

Fuel Characteristic Classification System (Version 2_1)
FCCS version 2_1 is a user-friendly software program that allows users to access fuelbeds from a nation-wide library or create their own custom fuelbeds. FCCS fuelbeds were compiled from published literature, fuels photo series, fuels data sets and expert opinion. Users can modify FCCS fuelbeds to create a set of customized fuelbeds representing any scale of interest.
When a user has completed editing fuelbed data, FCCS reports input and calculated fuel characteristics for each existing fuelbed component, from canopy fuels to ground fuels. FCCS also calculates the relative fire hazard of each fuelbed, including surface fire behavior, crown fire, and available fuel potentials, scaled on an index from 0 to 9. These FCCS fire potentials facilitate communication of fire hazard among users by providing an index of the intrinsic capacity of each fuelbed for surface fire behavior, crown fire and available consumption of fuels. All potentials assume dry benchmark environmental conditions (no slope, 4 mph midflame wind speed, and dry fuel moistures).

FCCS predicts surface fire behavior, including reaction intensity (Btu ft-2 min-1), flame length (ft), and rate of spread (ft min-1), based either on dry benchmark environmental conditions or on those specified by the user. By comparing predicted flame length and rate of spread, FCCS provides a crosswalk between its fuelbeds, the original 13 Fire Behavior Prediction System fuel models, and the 40 standard fuel models. FCCS 2_1 also reports carbon storage by fuelbed category and subcategory and predicts the amount of combustible carbon in each category and subcategory based on selected fuel moisture scenarios. The website for the FCCS 2_0 is

Natural Fuels Photo Series
The Natural Fuels Photo Series are useful tools to quickly and inexpensively evaluate vegetation and fuel conditions in the field. This collection of data and photographs collectively display a range of natural conditions and fuel loadings in a wide variety of ecosystem types throughout the Americas from central Alaska to central Brazil. Fire managers are the primary target audience of the Natural Fuels Photo series, although the data presented will also prove useful for managers, scientists, and researchers in other natural resource and science fields. The website for the photo series is:

Digital Photo Series
The Digital Photo Series contains searchable data and images for the nearly 400 sites contained in the Natural Fuels Photo Series, representing fuels in a wide range of ecosystems throughout the United States. Each entry includes a site description, species composition, fuel loading and arrangement, and overstory composition and structure. This information can be used for planning fuels treatments or other management actions and as inputs to fire behavior and fire effects models and applications. The Digital Photo Series is available online at

Consume 3_0
Consume 3_0 is a user-friendly software application for estimating fuel consumption and emissions produced. Land managers and researchers input fuel characteristics, length of ignition, fuel conditions, and meteorological attributes; Consume then calculates fuel consumption and emissions by combustion phase. Consume is designed to import data directly from the Fuel Characteristic Classification System (FCCS), and its output is formatted to feed other models and provide usable reports for burn plan preparation and smoke management requirements. Consume can be used for all forest, shrub and grasslands in North America. The Consume 3_0 website is

Hand-Pile Calculator
The hand-pile calculator is a user-friendly web-based tool that enables land managers to accurately assess biomass, fuel consumption, and emissions generated from the burning of conifer, hardwood or shrub hand-piled material. Land managers can use this tool to accurately and efficiently estimate the biomass of hand-piled fuels as well target the best time for igniting the piles to meet air quality regulations. The hand-pile calculator can be found on-line at:

Workshop 2
Landfire Total Fuel Change "ToFuΔ" a Practical Tool for Fire and Fuel Managers
Tobin Smail, FWS Fire Management, Lead Programmer, Planned Fire Fuels Team

Since 2005 when Landfire published its first National layers of vegetation and fuels data, the coarse scale and inaccuracies in the data have made it difficult for local analyst and fire managers to use. In response and in an effort to better serve the users the Landfire Project Fuels Team set out to “calibrate” the National fuels layers with local expert input. Through a sequence of sessions across the nation many fuels specialist were engaged to assist in the rectification of the data and in that process a tool was developed to facilitate the changes. The tool, known currently as ToFuΔ, is based in Arc GIS and an Access Database and installs as a tool bar in Arc. The user can easily make changes to Landfire fuels data based on the existing vegetation type, existing vegetation cover, existing vegetation height, and biophysical setting, which are downloadable from Since the beginning of its development, ToFuΔ has been requested by many fuels and fire specialist to assist them in making changes to the fuel characteristics on specific sites or entire Landfire map zones for fire planning and real time fire movement across the landscape.

Workshop 3
Interagency Fuels Treatment Decision Support System (IFT-DSS)
Stacy Drury, Sonoma Technology, Inc. Petaluma, CA

The Software Tools and Systems Study was initiated in March 2007 by the Joint Fire Science Program (JFSP) and Fuels Management Committee (FMC) to address the proliferation of software systems in the fire and fuels treatment domain. In 2008, the Interagency Fuels Treatment Decision Support System (IFT-DSS) software framework was designed to organize and manage the software systems and data used for fuels treatment planning. The goal is to make these tools available to fuels treatment planners through a single user-friendly, web-based system. The IFT-DSS was released as a proof of concept in spring 2010. The complete, fully functional system is scheduled to be available for fuels treatment specialists by spring 2012. Once completed, the IFT-DSS will provide a suite of fire behavior, fire effects, and risk assessment tools to aid in planning fuels treatments.

This workshop will:

  1. Introduce users to the current and future IFT-DSS functionality;
  2. Discuss the current tools, models, and modeling capabilities in the IFT-DSS;
  3. Provide a live demonstration by the IFT-DSS development team of IFT-DSS functionality; and
  4. Offer workshop participants the opportunity to put the IFT-DSS through its paces on their own laptops.

The hands-on session will highlight the web-based flexibility of the IFT-DSS. Participants will interact with the current features included in the IFT-DSS and get first-hand experience with the system’s modeling capabilities. They will also have the opportunity to ask questions in a computer-lab setting.

To try out the modeling system, participants must provide their own computers. The only software required to run IFT-DSS is a standard web browser. Simply connect to the internet using either the conference hotel Wi-Fi system, or use an external broadband modem. As a last resort, the IFT-DSS development team will bring a broadband modem with router for workshop participants to use.

For more information about the IFT-DSS, visit the frames website at  The Phase IIIa section of the website documents our implementation work and planned functionality. For a broader view of the project, visit the JFSP site at and download the December 2009 Fire Science Digest article A Powerful New Planning Environment for Fuels Managers: The Interagency Fuels Treatment Decision Support System. If you would like to access the IFT-DSS web-based system prior to the workshop.

Workshop 4
Arc Fuels
Alan Ager and Nicole Vaillant, Western Wildlands Environmental Threat Assessment Center (WWETAC) Prineville, Oregon

ArcFuels is used to rapidly design and test fuel treatments at the stand and landscape scale via linkages to models such as FVS-FFE, SVS, FARSITE, FlamMap, Nexus, and FVS within a spatial interface. The system was specifically designed to accelerate Fireshed/SPOTS analyses for fuel treatment planning. The ArcMap framework helps specialists leverage local data to address project-specific issues that typify many fuel treatment projects.

ArcFuels is a library of ArcGIS macros developed to streamline fire behavior modeling and spatial analyses for fuel treatment planning. The macros link:

  1. key wildfire behavior models;
  2. fuels and vegetation data (e.g. Landfire, FVS databases);
  3. MS Office, and
  4. ArcGIS.

Workshop 5
Incident Applications of Google Earth
William Phillips, Missoula Smokejumpers, Missoula, MT

The Geospatial Equipment and Technology Application Group (GETA) applies current technologies to wildland fire management in a way that improves efficiency, effectiveness, and interoperability of incident operations, management and communications. GETA uses Google Earth as an intelligence sharing platform on incidents ranging from wildland fire to all risk for use in tactical and strategic planning, Common Operating Pictures, Long Term Implementation Plans, Burned Area Emergency Response plans, and community meetings.

Google Earth is an internet based mapping program that incorporates current and historic satellite imagery and overlays it on a three dimensional terrain. The program, in existence since 2005, is becoming more and more prevalent in displaying and communicating geographic information on incidents of all types. This type of program can improve communications when applied appropriately.

This workshop will:

  1. Provide participants a hands on introduction to beginning and intermediate Google Earth use;
  2. Discuss and display the use of Google Earth on incidents;
  3. Leave participants wanting more!

Participants will need:

  1. A laptop computer;
  2. Laptop must be Wi-Fi enabled or an air card for internet access;
  3. Install the current version of Google Earth on computer.

Workshop 6
Wildland Fire Assessment Tool (WFAT)
Dale A. Hamilton and Jeffrey L. Jones, Systems for Environmental Management, Missoula, MT

WFAT provides an interface between ArcMap, FlamMap 5 and the First Order Fire Effects Model (FOFEM), combining their strengths into a spatial fire effects analysis tool. ArcMap is a geographic information system (GIS) commonly available to land managers for analysis of spatial data. FlamMap 5 is a fire behavior mapping and analysis program that computes potential fire behavior characteristics based on a variety of fuel and topography layers, but requires multiple data conversions in order to use data from ArcMap or to analyze resulting data layers in ArcMap. WFAT utilizes FOFEM to generate fire effects grids, based on the fire behavior grids generated with FlamMap 5. WFAT combines the analysis power of FlamMap 5 and FOFEM into a spatial format for use in ArcMap.

Managers can use WFAT to locate potential fuel treatment units, develop a prescription for those units, and evaluate the effect of their proposed treatment on potential fire behavior. WFAT saves fire managers the time and effort of converting data between multiple formats for use in ArcMap and FlamMap 5, and gives managers the option of using downloadable Landfire layers from the National Map as their input rasters. WFAT also uses the FOFEM engine to produce spatial inputs which managers can analyze in ArcMap.

MONDAY AFTERNOON, October 25th, 1:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.

Workshop 7
Smoke and Air Quality Management Tools Training
Sim Larkin, Tara Strand, Miriam Rorig, Candace Krull, Robert Solomon and Brian Potter, Pacific Wildland Fire Science Lab, Seattle, WA

The AirFire Team at the Pacific Wildland Fire Sciences Laboratory leads Forest Service research and development of tools for smoke and air quality management on wildland fires. These tools are all connected through the BlueSky Smoke Modeling Framework, an integrative and flexible system that incorporates meteorological, fuels emission and consumption, and dispersion models to predict the impacts of smoke from wildland (wild and prescribed) fire. At each modeling step, BlueSky has several different specific models from which to choose.

BlueSky connects models together and makes them easy to run in combination. Therefore BlueSky can enable:

  • the lookup of fuels information from fuel maps
  • the calculation of total and hourly fire consumption based on fuel loadings and weather information
  • the calculation of speciated emissions (such as CO2 or PM2.5) from a fire
  • the calculation of vertical plume profiles produced by a fire
  • the calculation of likely trajectories of smoke parcels given off by a fire
  • the calculation of downstream smoke concentrations.

This workshop will describe the BlueSky Framework and its component models, and will present recent developments in the web-based display interfaces which make the BlueSky output available to the users, including the Playground application, which allows users to choose which models to use at each step of the framework.

Workshop 8
Wind Ninja
Jason Forthofer, Bret Butler, Kyle Shannon, Missoula Fire Sciences Lab, Missoula, MT

WindNinja is a computer program that computes spatially varying wind fields for wildland fire application. It requires elevation data for the modeling area (in the form of an ASCII Raster DEM file, FARSITE landscape file, GeoTiff, or ERDAS Imagine file), a domain-mean initial wind speed and direction, and specification of the dominant vegetation in the area. A diurnal slope flow model can be optionally turned on or off. Outputs of the model are ASCII Raster grids of wind speed and direction (for use in spatial fire behavior models such as FARSITE and FlamMap), a GIS shapefile (for plotting wind vectors in GIS programs), and a .kmz file (for viewing in Google Earth). WindNinja is typically run on domain sizes up to 50 kilometers by 50 kilometers and at resolutions of around 100 meters.

Workshop 9
Fire Regime Condition Class: Concepts, Methods, and Applications
Stephen W. Barrett and Doug Havlina, National Interagency Fuels Technology Team, Kalispell, MT

Fire Regime Condition Class (FRCC) assessments have been widely used for evaluating ecosystem status in many areas of the U.S. Since inception in the late 1990’s, the method has been applied in multi-scale assessments in many facets of natural resource planning. For example, whereas initial FRCC mapping depicted coarse scale (1 km2 resolution) national trends, the process has since evolved to characterize landscapes, watersheds, and individual project areas to the stand scale. We used state-and-transition modeling to describe historical vegetation and fire regimes, which provided reference information related to landscape fire frequency, severity, and vegetation seral stage proportions. To promote methodological consistency, we then developed a quantitative method based upon similarity indexing to compare historical versus current vegetation and fire regimes. This technique allows field and GIS users to consistently assess FRCC for fire management plans and related planning efforts. Current applications of FRCC data include project design, risk assessments, treatment prioritization, fire use decisions, and evaluation of ecosystem sustainability. Although FRCC does not represent a stand-alone risk or allocation tool, such assessments provide a consistent landscape metric that can compliment other measures of ecological health and fire regime departure. At the national scale, the LANDFIRE mapping project provides downloadable FRCC and related GIS layers (30 m2 resolution) as a refinement of the initial FRCC coarse scale map for the U.S. Although FRCC methodology and associated software have undergone several version changes over the past decade, the recent release of FRCC Guidebook Version 3.0 represents the most substantial refinement to date.
In Spokane, National Interagency Fuels Technology Team (NIFTT) instructors will present a half-day workshop as an overview of the Fire Regime Condition Class assessment process. Workshop goals will be to: 1) educate the audience about state-of-the-art FRCC assessments, 2) generate questions and discussions about FRCC, and 3) stimulate the audience to pursue FRCC user certification at a later date. This workshop will consist of overview lectures, tool demonstrations, and an optional hands-on scenario exercise for interested participants.

Workshop 10
"Rabbit Rules" – An Application of Stephen Wolfram’s “New Kind of Science” to Fire Spread Modeling
Gary Achtemeier, Forest Service, Athens, GA

This is a hands-on training session on how to run the fire/smoke model, Rabbit Rules. The training session is intended for (but not restricted to) users who are willing to work with the Dr. Achtemeier in “training rabbits” to accurately simulate fire spread in user-specific fuels. Fuels data enter Rabbit Rules through rules governing rabbit behavior. Rabbit Rules is considered “in development” with the intention of collaborating with users to complete the development. The model was developed for use with prescribed fire but also has shown skill with wildfire.

Sullivan (2009) classifies Rabbit Rules as a mathematical analog model based on methods of diffusion-limited aggregation. A “rabbit” acts analogously to fire, subject to a set of rules that dictate rabbit behavior. Although originally developed to simulate the time-rate of emissions from prescribed fires in a “game-playing” format, Rabbit Rules showed skill for simulating aspects of fire behavior, including some fire/atmosphere interactions. The model allows the user to build fire breaks and spread fire over the landscape as he chooses – for example, head fires, stripping, and areal ignition. The graphical user interface is Google Earth and the managed distribution of fire is done through Microsoft Paint.

Trainees will learn the following:

  1. How to operate data grabbers that collect elevation and weather data from various web sites needed to run Rabbit Rules.
  2. How to run the Mountain Wind Model (MWM) to get estimates of wind speed and direction in mountainous terrain.
  3. How to translate fuels data into the Rabbit Rules fuels matrix.
  4. How to enter spatial fuels data into Rabbit Rules
  5. How to set ignition patterns over the landscape.
  6. How to operate the Rabbit Rules model.
  7. How to convert model output into a relative emissions model.
  8. How to display maps of the amount of fire on the landscape at any time.

Trainees should have on their computers Google Earth, know how to use Microsoft Paint, and have WiFi capability. These features are all standard on most computers. Note that Rabbit Rules is being developed with MS-Windows XP. It has not yet been demonstrated as working on Windows Vista or Windows 7.

Sullivan, A.L., 2009: Wildland surface fire spread modeling, 1990-2007. 3: Simulation and mathematical analogue models. International Journal of Wildland Fire, 18: 347-403.

Workshop 11
Potential Rate of Spread (PROS) Risk Assessment Process
Tom Leuschen, FireVision, Twisp, WA. 509-997-5052

A “Potential Rate of Spread Chart” (PROS) has been developed in an effort to assist firefighters in better understanding the significance of the dynamic environmental conditions they are working in. PROS is designed to help firefighters identify when they are approaching or working in environmental conditions where there is little room for error, and minutes and seconds may be the difference between life and death when things go wrong.

Why is it that firefighters are underestimating these environmental conditions that lead to fatalities and not making the necessary adjustments in fire operations? Findings of the 1957 Task Force established by Forest Service Chief Richard McArdle found that “Basic elements of fire behavior are not understood; indicators of change in usual fire behavior not recognized; local fire weather forecasts not obtained, inaccurate or not understood” (Moore et al, 1957).

We see similar situations cited in fatality fire investigation reports today.

This session will look at possible reasons why firefighters are underestimating the changing fire behavior potential and some simple tools that could help them identify high risk environments and possible actions that could help them avoid tragedy.

Workshop 12
Using the Fireline Assessment Method (FLAME), A Process for Integrating Fireline Observations with Anticipated Changes in the Fire Environment to Assess Expected Fire Behavior.
Jim Bishop, FBAN and Robert Ziel FBAN/LTAN

How should fireline supervisors view their fire environment and anticipate how it will change? How can they systematically apply fireline observations when making their assessment of expected fire behavior? How do they make sense of the myriad of checklists, reference guides, prediction tools, and forecast products? Using the FireLine Assessment MEthod (FLAME), attendees will examine a process for observing and documenting critical fireline factors, anticipating changes during the burn period, and integrating them into a quantitative assessment that can aid in the evaluation of the tactical assignment and validation of their safety mitigations. FLAME applies standard fire-model and observational guidance in a fireline practical mode, with minimum inputs – an assessment focused on the dominant drivers of short-term fire behavior changes: fuel type, effective wind speed, and crown fire potential. Participants will practice by conducting simulated assessments and recording Information using a simple, adaptable worksheet. Skills examined here apply to a wide variety of fireline situations and can easily be integrated into tabletop and sand table simulations to emphasize situational awareness and briefing skills.


3rd Fire Behavior and Fuels Conference  ~  October 25-29, 2010  ~  Red Lion Hotel at the Park  ~  Spokane, Washington USA