The 2003 Wildland Fire Detection Workshop was the first in a series of workshops on fire detection organized by FPInnovations. The workshops take place at the Hinton Training Centre with the goal to bring Canadian and international wildland fire detection expertise together in one place; encouraging communications among participants; and providing ideas & innovations to create solutions for the issues affecting wildfire detection programs today, on every scale, and well into the future.
In March of 2011 FPInnovations staff traveled to Rainbow Lake to create research plots in a prescribed burn unit. Work was conducted using a Gyrotrac GT-18 rotary mulcher, creating three ‘grid-mulched’ plots along with several ‘control’ lines. The grid-mulched areas are to evaluate their effectiveness as fuel reduction treatments, and the control lines were established to monitor their effect on fire behaviour. Work was completed over a three day period.
Event Tacking Systems are marketed as a means to accurately track payload delivery (volumes and delivery points). The question raised in this proposal relates to the accuracy of these tracking systems. How accurate are these devices in terms of payload delivery. What is the error?
Ignition specialists with Alberta Environment and Sustainable Resource Development (ESRD) had identified significant operational and reliability issues with the current system and expressed a pressing need for improvement. The Chair of Alberta’s Ignition Working Group asked FPInnovations Wildfire Operations Research to provide a conceptual design for a new aerial-ignition tracking system that addressed the needs and concerns of the ignition specialists.
This project was completed under contract for Alberta Environment and Sustainable Resource Development. Please contact Jim Thomasson for more details.
One of the latest technological advancements under development is the aerial intelligence-gathering platform. The platform combines geo-referenced images (infrared and colour) with real-time telemetry. Data can be transferred to a fire centre, an incident command post, and hand-held devices. In 2010, FPInnovations conducted an analysis for the British Columbia Wildfire Management Branch to identify the branch’s data collection needs and priorities that might be addressed by this latest technology. This is a directed research project and the results belong to British Columbia Wildfire Management Branch. Please contact Jim Thomasson for details.
This study was initiated upon the request of Alberta Environmental Protection to investigate the relationship between all terrain vehicle (ATVs) and fire ignition within Alberta’s forests. The report summarizes the use of ATVs in Alberta and the specific causes of wildfires associated with these vehicles, describes fire history from 1990 to 2002, reports on other agencies’ strategies to lower the probability of ATV-caused fires in forested areas, and makes recommendations for Alberta.
All terrain vehicles, ATV, Wildfire, Fire ignition, Wildfire cause, Alberta.
The objective of this fire history study was to investigate whether the current practices are the appropriate strategy in terms of the fire risk created by the top-piles and to provide this information to policy makers to assist in future decisions.
The Wildland Fire Operations Research Group of FPInnovations - Feric Division in collaboration with the University of Alberta initiated a project in late 2007 at the request of its stakeholders to examine and define the limits of wildland firefighter safety and survival zones. Part of this project involves examining past wildfire incidents in relation to hindsight simulations of the thermal environment associated with the area of refuge taken by firefighters in various burn-over and entrapment situations. Here we examine the case involving the survival of Smokejumper Foreman Wag Dodge on the 1949 Mann Gulch Fire. Based on a thorough review of all the available written documentation and photographic evidence coupled with existing fire behavior knowledge and predictive models, new estimates are presented for the area burned by Dodge's escape fire (0.02 acre or 0.08 hectare) and the height of the flame front that swept around his "island" of safety (10 ft or 3 m). The question of whether he was physically lifted off the ground during the ordeal is also touched on.
Fuel mastication (mulching) is a widely promoted fuel treatment to mitigate the threat of wildfires in the wildland-urban interface. Mulched fuels produce a different type of fuelbed that may exhibit different fire behaviour when compared to untreated forests. Many have raised the question of whether mulched fuels create more firebrands than untreated forests. Firebrands are burning pieces of wood that are projected beyond the perimeter of a wildfire. When they land they can ignite the fuelbed and create a spot fire. Spot fires advance the spread of forest fires and are a characteristic of extreme fire behaviour, but they are not well studied. To better understand spot fires, we need a better understanding of how firebrands are produced. To research firebrand production, we need to first assess the different methods for collecting firebrands. This study evaluated four methods on a small experimental fire: (1) pans with water, (2) pans with water and with a screen, (3) a tarp and (4) a cloth sheet coated with fire retardant. Our results showed that of the two pan methods, the pan with screen collected fewer firebrands,
but the firebrands were heavier than the firebrands collected in the pans without the screen. The tarp almost entirely melted and was an unsuccessful method. The sheet coated with fire retardant was successful in creating a record of firebrand deposition through the presence of recognizable burn marks. Results from the sheets showed that most burning firebrands are relatively small and that as firebrand size increases the frequency of firebrand deposition decreases. An analysis of the sheets and the video footage revealed that an average of 4% of firebrands collected are burning at the time of collection.The advantages of the pan methods were that they captured the firebrands and kept them intact for analysis. The disadvantages were that they required more time to set-up and they did not allow us to distinguish between burning (or glowing) firebrands and extinguished firebrands. The advantages of the sheets were that they only collected data for burning (or glowing) firebrands
and they were easy to set up. The disadvantage was that the sheets did not preserve the firebrand itself for analysis.
We recommend that future research continue to explore firebrand collection methods as an important step toward understanding firebrand production. Firebrand production is an important area of research to expand the current knowledge base on spot fires. This in turn is beneficial to help create more accurate models of forest fire behaviour, which can help wildfire managers in their decision-making. An understanding of firebrand production in mulched fuels can help evaluate the effectiveness of mulch as a forest fuel treatment.
Infrared technology is widely used by Canadian wildfire management agencies to achieve wildfire suppression objectives. The use of infrared technology to identify smouldering woody material during the final stages of fire mop-up is most commonly conducted using helicopters equipped with infrared cameras. This report documents the use of an infrared camera by firefighters on the ground on two separate fires in Ontario. FPInnovations has completed several projects related to the use of infrared technology in identifying small, smouldering spots of burning organic material. This Ontario study is our first evaluation of handheld infrared cameras operated on the fireline by fire crews. The initial reaction to the project proposal was suggestion that widespread use of infrared technology on the ground would result in a reduction in cold trailing activities. This study found the use of an infrared camera on the fireline did not alter conventional cold trailing activities but generally complemented conventional patrol and mopup procedures by enabling firefighters to locate more hotspots earlier in the day. In part this study was initiated in response to improvements in infrared camera technology which have increased their applicability to ground patrol operations while reducing the camera acquisition and maintenance cost.
This project is a cooperative study between the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and FPInnovations.