A remote-start system can be used with sprinkler systems to provide structure protection in the event of a wildfire or can be adapted for pump relay applications in wildfire operations. This project aimed to identify and acquire the remote-start technology available for sprinkler systems, and to evaluate its usefulness for wildfire applications.
In May 2013, fire RWF-015-13 threatened infrastructure in and around the hamlet of Nordegg, Alberta and forced the evacuation of 100 people. By the time the fire was contained, it had burned approximately 300 ha and came within 2.0 km of Nordegg. The fire started and burned through forest fuel treatments that had been designed to protect the community from advancing crown fires.
This case study examines the behaviour of that fire in relation to weather, fuels, and topography. Forest and wildfire operation professionals from the Alberta Environment and Sustainable Resource Development (ESRD) office in Rocky Mountain House, Alberta provided the information contained in this case study. The reader is presumed to have a basic understanding of wildfire behaviour, and the Canadian Fire Behaviour Prediction System and its associated terms.
Mulch products are commonly used as landscaping material around residential structures and community parks. FPInnovations compared the ignition probability and fire behaviour of six different landscaping mulch products at the request of the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo, which includes the urban service area of Fort McMurray. The results of this study will help communities and home owners make informed decisions regarding the use of landscaping mulch products.
This framework focuses on developing an approach for gathering data intended to improve our understanding of how fire spreads and structures ignite within the Wildland Urban Interface (WUI).
The resultant research will intentionally be limited in scope as the framework outlines a research approach that is limited in scope to focus on FireSmart treatments within the SIZ. As such, the resultant research will not include studies into the effectiveness of landscape level fuel management activities, community scale hazard abatement, or the effectiveness of wildland or structural fire control actions.
The framework addresses critical components of a research deployment in the WUI. Included are prioritized research questions, supported by a decision tree to aid researchers
in identifying specific research priorities that are congruent with the opportunities presented by individual WUI wildfire incidents. Tools, methodologies, equipment, and logistics required to gather the requisite data and answer the research questions are provided within the framework.
RWF-002 initially escaped containment on Wednesday, January 3 2002 due to an increase in windspeeds caused by a chinook event. At least two piles escaped containment and joined together as RWF-002. The first fire remained within the cutblock in 2-3 year old cured fuels and was fought until Sunday, January 6th when another, stronger unpredictable event (chinook winds) occurred near Nordegg,. At this time another pile flared and raced off into a stand of trees. The fire grew from 10 hectares in size to a final size of 20 hectares before it was contained in an area of blowdown along a ridge top. The top-piles in this block were ignited three weeks earlier, during a stretch of seasonal weather and when the ground had 100% snow cover of up to 25 cm in some places. Many piles were ignited at this time to take advantage of the good burning conditions. Just north of this area, between 6000 and 8000 piles were burned during the same time period (with only a few very minor excursions). A warm period followed New Years, and this combined with strong winds evaporated the surface snow and exposed the fuels which were capable of carrying fire. The cutblock containing the piles was directly to the east of a ridge that acts to deflect or bounce the chinook wind and is situated in a location that frequently catches the descending wave at full force. It is in these areas that extreme care must be taken when pile burning at any time during the winter.
Wildland firefighters are routinely exposed to dense smoke for extended periods of time. Studies show that exposure to the chemical components of wildland smoke can lead to negative health effects and other symptoms which may compromise worker performance. Most health problems are not long term, and can be managed using proper preventative techniques such as crew rotation through heavy smoke conditions and proper personal protective equipment. However, a solid understanding of the chemical components of wildfire smoke and its effects on the human body assists both workers and supervisors in making educated decisions in emergency situations that can protect employees from dangerous exposure to smoke. Alberta Sustainable Resource Development asked FERIC to review both print and web-based literature and to summarize this information.
A study was completed at the request of the FPInnovations fire group advisory members, which is comprised of numerous Canadian wildfire management government agencies and private sector companies. This study (a) provides information on current aerial firefighting delivery systems and fire chemicals testing and approval processes in Canada; (b) determines the need and interest in developing a Canadian testing and approval strategy among fire management agencies and industry; (c) provides fire group advisory members with a framework for future discussion and decision making.
The logging industry in North America has long since made the shift from using manual operators to mechanized equipment, however this trend has been slower on wildfire operations. Although equipment is used on wildfires they often occur in remote, rugged terrain with limited access making it difficult to bring equipment to assist with operations. An increased abundance of medium and heavy lift helicopters coupled with new and existing machines may provide opportunities for mechanized equipment to play an increased operational role. This project aims consider and evaluate potential equipment.
The British Columbia Transmission Corporation (BCTC) was interested in determining the maximum pile height that can be burned under its transmission lines. When burning these debris piles the maximum temperatures must not exceed 90oC two metres below the line. BCTC asked FPInnovations to develop a methodology to capture a temperature profile and then collect temperature profiles above burning piles of various heights.
Fire-Trol Canada Company, based in Kamloops, BC manufactures and distributes a torch system known as the Buckmaster Terra Torch. It is commonly referred to as the Terra Torch, and uses a Honda volume pump to propel burning gelled fuels up to 15 metres. FERIC researchers (now FPInnovations) evaluated the effectiveness of the Terra Torch for under-burning, igniting logging debris piles, and igniting standing trees to create crown fires.
The fluids that forest firefighting personnel prefer to consume are water and drinks containing electrolytes. These fluids are usually brand-name products contained in safety-sealed 500 ml or 1 L plastic bottles. The cost of providing these products is relatively high. Other issues associated with this form of delivery are the logistics and costs of collecting the empty bottles from the fire line or fire camp and transporting them to a disposal site. The Aviation and Forest Fire Management Branch of Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources asked FPInnovations to investigate alternative hygienic means of delivering drinking fluids to forest firefighting personnel, and the associated costs. FPInnovations examined various means of providing potable fluids to fire crews and compared the advantages and disadvantages.
Measuring rate of fire spread is an important component of wildfire and prescribed burn operations. Because there is often little time to install instrumentation ahead of a wildfire, rate of spread is frequently measured by observing fire passage through points of known distance. There is time to install instrumentation when conducting prescribed burns, but current dataloggers have limited operating time and need to be reset if the burn is delayed or postponed. To overcome the limitations of existing instruments, Alberta Sustainable Resource Development and FPInnovations Wildfire Research Group asked the Mechanical Engineering Department at the University of Alberta to develop a new temperature datalogger. Researchers then tested these new dataloggers three experimental fires at the NWT Research Site.
As the mountain pine beetle continues to kill large stands of Lodgepole pine in Alberta, there is increased concern regarding the regeneration of these forests, particularly in areas where there is no salvage logging and scarification. Serotinous cones can remain in the crown and not open for several years following a MPB attack and feathermoss layers are considered unsuitable seedbeds for pine. In this project, University of Alberta researchers plan to examine the use of surface fire to stimulate regeneration after stand mortality due to MPB in north-central Alberta and compare it to mechanical site preparation. FPInnovations´ role in this study is only to provide support for fire behaviour data collection.
Fuel management treatments frequently include partial harvesting and the removal of surface fuels. However, residual trees may be prone to windthrow and could create undesirable surface fuels within the treatment area. Aesthetics and safety are also a concern since most treatments are done around communities within or near areas of high visibility and recreational use. Techniques to reduce windthrow can be employed at the planning and treatment stages, and can provide obvious benefits in addition to reducing ongoing fuel maintenance costs within the treatment area. This project looked at techniques to reduce windthrow loss when a mature overstory is treated with partial harvesting and removal of surface/ladder fuels.
The objectives of this document are to:
Provide a brief overview of factors that influence windthrow as a result of fuel management.
Provide suggestions on treatment design to reduce wind damage.
FPInnovations Forestry group has developed a variety of computer-based systems or tools to aid forestry practitioners with decision making in harvest operations. These information systems, aptly called Decision Support Systems (DSS), allow the simulation of operational decisions using software applications. With these simulations, the outcomes of operational decisions can be promptly forecasted. DSSs thus allow users to compare the feasibility and economic value of different potential operational decisions.