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.
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.
Forest fuels engineering is one of the primary wildfire mitigation strategies advocated by FireSmart™ Canada (Partners in Protection, 2003) and applied by partnering wildfire management agencies and industry operators. Over the past two decades, mechanical forest fuel treatments (including mulching) have been extensively applied in and around communities in the wildland-urban interface to mitigate the risk of wildfire. Fuel managers and fire operations managers would like to better understand how manual and mechanical fuel treatments modify fire behaviour.
Fuel treatment efficacy has been evaluated through post-wildfire case studies (Mooney, 2014; Pritchard et al., 2011), fire behaviour modelling (Fernandes, 2009; Stephens et al., 2009) and subjective expert opinion based approaches (Hayes et al., 2008). The use of experimental fire to evaluate the effectiveness of fuel treatments is limited.
Firebrand transport is a key mechanism for fire spread. Fire and fuels managers apply fuel treatments in the wildland–urban interface based on our best understanding of firebrand transport and spot fire growth. Observations and data collected during this experimental fire can lend to innovations in firebrand transport data collection methods and fuel treatment maintenance practices.
In May 2017 FPInnovations conducted an initial field assessment of a helicopter on-board system for mixing water-enhancing gel concentrate at Fort Vermillion. For this study, Alberta Agriculture and Forestry contracted a Bell 214B helicopter with on-board gel mixing capability. The helicopter company chose Firewall II gel and an Isolair external tank to meet the contract requirements.
This Info Note presents FPInnovations’ observations of the ability of the on-board mixing system to effectively mix Firewall II gel with water.
Alberta helitorch has been in service for over 20 years, and based on helitorch life expectancy and the advancements in technology, Alberta wildfire management staff decided to explore design improvements and construction of a replacement helitorch prototype.
Class A foam “lowers water’s surface tension making it more effective in suppressing fire in Class A combustibles (wood, vegetation, paper and cotton products and rubber)” (ICL Performance Products LP, n.d.). Alberta Agriculture and Forestry has used class A liquid foam and liquid foam inductor kits in wildfire suppression since the 1980s. Although class A liquid foam has proven to be an effective tool, promoting the consistent use of it in Alberta has been a challenge since its introduction. Firefighter reluctance to use class A foam is often linked to reasons such as set-up time, working with the foam solution, system awkwardness, and anecdotal comparisons to straight water.
Alberta’s Provincial Warehouse and Service Centre (PWSC) was approached by ICL Performance Products LP (ICL) regarding a new class A foam system, the Phos-Chek SOLID Foam Stick and Scotty Foam-Fast Applicator. The foam stick and applicator were promoted by ICL as a simple and effective way of producing low-expansion class A foam using minimal equipment. Following an ICL presentation to Alberta’s PWSC and Fireline Equipment Working Group (FEWG), a decision was made to pursue field trials before considering a large-scale purchase.
To facilitate field trials, the PWSC purchased several applicators and a supply of foam sticks with the intent of having their firefighters assess the system. Further discussion by the group identified a lack of consistent evaluation criteria and a need for documented, fact-based test results. In follow-up, the PWSC requested assistance from Alberta’s Wildfire Management Science and Technology (WMST) program to engage a research provider, and in March of 2015, they asked FPInnovations to conduct an evaluation of the Phos-Chek SOLID Foam Stick (formulation ID #049-019F) and the Scotty Foam-Fast Applicator (model 4010-50).
FPInnovations worked with the WMST program working group, PWSC manager, and designated FEWG members to review research questions, project needs and develop the following project objectives.
FPInnovations conducted four separate underburns in August 2017 at the CBCFS research site north of Fort Providence, NWT. The burns were part of a fireguard for a future burn but allowed FPInnovations and the GNWT to study how and when underburning can be applied in a pine stand to reduce the potential spread of wildfire and lower the probability of embers landing and starting new fires. Underburns can also be used as lines from which to ignite backburns. To find the optimal fire weather and fuel conditions in which to burn, we burned four fires under different fire weather conditions and documented the resulting fire behaviour and the effects of the underburns.