Current forest management policy in many jurisdictions in North America manages excess woody debris by piling and burning it, mainly as a post-harvest fire hazard abatement obligation. This study highlights three key points to consider regarding utilization and disposal of waste wood piles:
1) Allocate most woody debris waste to the biofuels sector in a cost-effective manner;
2) Allocate a small portion of woody debris (e.g. 10-15%) to implement windrow habitats where necessary to maintain mammalian biodiversity on clearcuts;
3) Limit burning of waste wood to those sites near human activity (potential fire hazard) that do not have an opportunity for biofuels or windrow purposes.
The aim of this study was to capture data on area-based water delivery systems, specifically in the context of logistics, systems differentiation, water delivery, and its localized effects. FPInnovations successfully collaborated with Fire & Flood to obtain this data. A two-day test was executed during which Fire & Flood set up their 4- and 12-inch systems and carried out sprinkler operations.
Timber harvest companies are looking for cost-effective methods for harvesting low value fibre. FPInnovations conducted a multi-faceted research project in the Nazko region to compare several operational aspects of two harvest methods: cut-to-length and conventional.
As part of this research project, FPInnovations’ wildfire group measured and assessed the harvest residue resulting from both harvest methods. With this information, we were able to evaluate potential fire behaviour in each of the harvest areas.
Alberta Agriculture and Forestry asked FPInnovations to evaluate the patented Trident Pump System developed by Younkers Wielding for the system's suitability for wildfire operations. This report summarizes the author's observations and thoughts.
Mulching is a common method of fuel treatment. However, it is not currently listed by the U.S. Forest Service as a fuel type in its recommendations for fire retardant coverage levels. FPInnovations researchers set up plots with different coverage levels of retardant on a mulch fuel bed and collected fire behaviour data when a fire interacted with these plots. The results are intended to help wildfire agencies understand the effectiveness of retardant on mulch fuels in developing better suppression plans.
The City of Quesnel, B.C. has applied an innovative selective harvesting technique in a mature Douglas-fir forest stand with the objectives of maintaining biodiversity and reducing fuel-load buildup and consequent wildfire threat. FPInnovations researchers monitored and documented the harvesting operations and measured machine productivity to evaluate the cost-effectiveness of the operation.
To support the assessment of fuel-load reduction, FPInnovations’ Wildfire Operations group conducted pre- and post-harvest fuel-sampling activities to evaluate changes in forest fuel components.
When wildfire escapes into the wildlands-urban interface, homes, industrial facilities, and other urban values can be threatened or destroyed. As recommended by the FireSmart Canada program, vegetation management is a key principle in mitigating the risk of wildfire affecting urban values. In 2007, at a forested test site in the Northwest Territories, Canada, FPInnovations evaluated the effectiveness of using vegetation management- i.e., removal and reduction of forest fuels from the vicinity of a small building- as a strategy for protecting the building from wildfire.
Oriented residue piles and constructed burn piles have different characteristics, including fuel size, composition, and fuel arrangement. The comparative ignition trials conducted in this proof-of-concept study suggest that these characteristics influence the fuel environment, with a higher potential for ignition and sustained burning and greater resultant fire intensity in constructed burn piles. The intent of this proof-of-concept trial was to determine whether logging residue piles that have been oriented for biomass extraction (placed in parallel piles by the processor operator during primary harvesting activities) is a significant fuel hazard that requires further abatement.
Reduced surface evaporation rates are marketed as a competitive advantage by water-enhancer manufacturers. In this report, a new test method is developed and applied to quantify the evaporation rates of various commercially available water-enhancer products in a controlled environment. These quantified evaporation rates were then compared to the evaporation rate of water which served as the benchmark.
Forest fuels engineering is one of the primary wildfire mitigation strategies advocated by FireSmart™ Canada and applied by partnering wildfire management agencies and industry operators. Fuel treatments have been extensively applied in and around communities in the wildland-urban interface, through a broad range of fuel modification techniques. A primary objective of fuel treatments is to modify fire behaviour to a ‘less difficult, disruptive, and destructive’ state (Reinhardt et al. 2008) which can allow for safer, more effective fire suppression operations (Moghaddas and Craggs 2007).
Black spruce is one of the most prevalent fuel types surrounding communities in central and northern Alberta, as well as other parts of boreal Canada. The densely stocked black spruce forest stands in the Red Earth Creek FireSmart research area exhibit typical crown fuel properties of black spruce: high crown bulk density and low crown base height, which contribute to crown fire initiation (Van Wagner 1977). These fuel characteristics, combined with low fuel moisture contents and strong winds, create ideal conditions for high-intensity, rapidly-spreading catastrophic wildfire (Flat Top Complex Wildfire Review Committee 2012).
Mulch fuel treatments use various types of equipment to masticate forest vegetation resulting in a reduction in crown bulk density and the conversion of canopy and ladder fuels to a more compacted and less available fuel source in the surface layer (Battaglia et al. 2010). Mulch thinning and strip mulch treatments create a more open surface fuel environment with both negative and positive impacts. Due to increased exposure to sun and wind flow, the chipped debris and other surface fuels in the open areas of the treatments dry more quickly than fine fuels in enclosed stands (Schiks and Wotton 2015). From a control perspective, the open thinned areas of the treatments allow more effective penetration of water/suppressant through canopy fuels to surface fuels (Hsieh in progress). Additionally, fine fuels at the surface of openings respond more quickly to water and suppressant application. Open areas of the treatments that have been wetted by sprinkler systems or aerial water delivery should reduce the potential for ignition and sustained burning, providing a potential barrier to fire spread.
Experimental crown fires have been conducted to challenge fuels treatments in other forest fuel types (Schroeder 2010, Mooney 2013) to evaluate the efficacy of these treatments in moderating fire behaviour. Mechanical (shearblading) fuel treatments in black spruce fuels (Butler et al. 2013) have been shown to reduce fire intensity. However, documentation of crown fire challenging mulch fuel treatments in black spruce fuels is limited. Fire and fuels managers would like to evaluate the effectiveness of mulch fuel treatments in reducing fire intensity and rate of spread and, ultimately, their ability to mitigate wildfire risk to communities surrounding these hazardous fuels.
Alberta Agriculture and Forestry (AAF) Wildfire Management Branch fuels managers designed the Red Earth Creek FireSmart research area with the objective of conducting research that will lead to a better understanding of mulch fuel treatments and how these changes in the black spruce fuel environment affect fire behaviour. On May 14, 2015, Slave Lake Forest Area personnel conducted an experimental fire at this site; FPInnovations and research partners collected data to document changes in fire behaviour.