Currently, wildfire intensity is calculated using Byram’s Fire Intensity Equation, which was published in 1959. The variables in this equation include fuel consumption and rate of spread. Collecting the data to calculate these variables is time and labour intensive. A modification of Byram’s equation that uses only flame length as its variable is much simpler, but much less accurate. In 2005 students in the Mechanical Engineering Department at the University of Alberta developed an instrument called the thermal cube, which FPInnovations has been using to measure fire intensity on its research projects. This instrument measures fire intensity in kW/m2, but most operational wildland firefighting training resources refer to fire intensity in kW/m and there is no easy conversion between the two.
This project will explore the development a robust, easily deployable sensor that will measure wildfire intensity in the field and will provide a measurement relevant to wildfire operations.