This InfoNote describes the The 5th Wildfire Detection Workshop that was held in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada on February 28 and March 1, 2023. The workshop provided Canadian Federal, Provincial, and Territorial wildfire agencies with an opportunity to exchange ideas and information related to the state of wildland fire detection in their jurisdictions.
Detection is critical for successful wildfire management. The Alberta Wildfire Detection Challenge was a collaborative program between Alberta Wildfire, Alberta Innovates, and FPInnovations. The program selected six commercially available fixed detection systems for a challenge. These systems were installed and operated on the Marten Mountain Lookout tower near Slave Lake, Alberta, Canada during the 2022 wildfire season. This report presented analyzed performance data of these systems from the demonstration in an operational environment. Results will facilitate a better understanding of these systems.
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.
Fort Providence Research Site, Located approximately 40km north of Fort Providence, NT just off Highway 3, the Fort Providence Research Site site was the location of the International Crown Fire Modelling Experiment (ICFME) between 1995 and 2001. Research activities at the site were taken over by FPInnovations Wildfire Operations Research team in 2001. Working closely with the Government of the Northwest Territories, FPInnovations is able to conduct field experiments using high intensity crown fires in support of numerous projects submitted by members.
FireSmart Vegetation Management Decision Support Research
Wildfire 9589 2018
Stand conversion is a recognized wildland fire hazard reduction treatment. In Alberta, stand conversion from white spruce to aspen is fairly well understood in terms of fire behavior and silviculture. However, potential for converting Black Spruce to less flammable species has not been explored. If Larix spp. is less flammable than black spruce, the conversion of black spruce stands to Larix spp. within and adjacent to communities has the potential to reduce the wildfire threat to these communities and other high value infrastructure. Being able to identify differences in flammability of these species could also lead to more accurate fire behaviour predication and significant operational cost savings. The potential outcomes of the project are science to inform fuel and fire behaviour modelling, community and infrastructure protection strategies and decision making as well as research report and knowledge exchange opportunities.
This project is a part of the FireSmart Vegetation Management Decision Support Research initiative.
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.
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.
The Forest Engineering Research Institute of Canada (FERIC) (now FPInnovations) surveyed off-highway, ground-based water delivery systems working in Alberta wildland fire operations to develop a recommended standard for these types of systems. This report contains information useful in the design and operation of mobile water delivery equipment in support of Alberta fire operations.
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.
NW Alberta lands sales have led to significant burning projects. Land owners require burning permits during “Fire Season” (March 1st – October 31st). This type of large scale burning (windrows) is often differed to after the established fire season. Windrow burning outside fire season poses less fire escape risk, but has other public safety concerns e.g. smoke which can lead to health issues and increased traffic accidents. Local forestry and municipal authorities have engaged in discussions aimed at identifying potential burning options.