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Unit 11: Fire Behavior Prediction Systems

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Systems Pt. 1   ::   Worksheet & Field Guide   ::   Practice   ::   Systems Pt. 2   ::  Estimating  ::   Exercises

Estimating Fire Behavior in the Field

Fireline Intensity

The next portion of the unit is on estimating actual fire behavior in the field. The documentation of actual fire behavior serves several useful purposes. How do you measure it?

Rate of spread can be measured or estimated in the field by these methods:

  1. Measure a distance ahead of the fireline, and time the fire spread over that distance. Calculate feet per minute or chains per hour from these observations.
  2. Use a hand held rangefinder to determine distance of fire spread by time. This allows you to measure spread distance from a safe distance away.
  3. Use high resolution maps or aerial photos, and observe and time the fire spread between two identifiable points. Calculate spread distance from the map or photo.
  4. Take aerial photos or infrared imagery at various times, and note fire spread distance over time. This is done by specially equipped aircraft on larger fires where ground observations of fire spread is difficult. There may be other variations to these methods that are used locally to estimate rate of spread.

Copyright 2008, by the Contributing Authors. Cite/attribute Resource . admin. (2005, November 16). Unit 11: Fire Behavior Prediction Systems. Retrieved January 07, 2011, from Free Online Course Materials — USU OpenCourseWare Web site: This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License Creative Commons License