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An analytical framework for quantifying wildland fire risk and fuel treatment benefit

Author(s): Joe H. Scott
Compiler(s): Patricia L. Andrews, Bret W. Butler
Year Published: 2006

Federal wildland fire management programs have readily embraced the practice of fuel treatment. Wildland fire risk is quantified as expected annual loss ($ yr-1 or $ yr-1 ac-1). Fire risk at a point on the landscape is a function of the probability of burning at that point, the relative frequency of fire behaviors expected if the point does burn, and the response of various resources to those expected fire behaviors (net value change). The probability of fire burning at any point on the landscape is a function of the spatial arrangement of fuel, weather, topography, and ignition locations surrounding the point of interest, but not characteristics of the point itself. Relative frequency of fire behavior is a function of the local fire environment and the likelihood of burning at various portions of an assumed elliptical fire. Fire loss is assumed to be a function of fire behavior characteristics. Fire behavior can be measured by the Fire Intensity Index (FII), the common logarithm of fireline intensity. A risk reduction treatment is an investment of capital today for a benefit to be reaped in the future. The benefit of a risk reduction treatment is the present value of the difference in risk with and without treatment. Cost is the present value of current year and future treatment expenditures. Fuel treatment benefit-cost ratio is a measure of efficiency; it is one of many factors that inform a fire management decision.

Citation: Scott, Joe H. 2006. An analytical framework for quantifying wildland fire risk and fuel treatment benefit. In: Andrews, Patricia L.; Butler, Bret W. (comps.). Proceedings of the 1st Fire Behavior and Fuels Conference: Fuels Management - How to Measure Success. 2006 March 28-30; Portland, OR. Proceedings RMRS-P-41. Fort Collins, CO: USDA Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station. p. 169-184
Topic(s): Fuels, Fuel Treatments & Effects, Fuels Inventory & Monitoring, Risk, Risk assessment
Ecosystem(s): None
Document Type: Conference Proceedings
NRFSN number: 12720
FRAMES RCS number: 3003
Record updated: Feb 20, 2019