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Two methods for calculating wildland fire rate of forward spread

Author(s): James S. Gould, Andrew L. Sullivan
Year Published: 2020

Accurate estimation of a wildland fire’s progression is critical for the development of robust fire spread prediction models and their validation. Two methods commonly used to determine spread rate are the cumulative spread rate, calculated as the total distance travelled by a fire divided by the total time of travel, and the interval spread rate, calculated using the minimum time and maximum distance between observations. This paper analyses the differences between these two methods using experimental fires conducted in dry eucalypt forest leaf litter in either a combustion wind tunnel or large (4 ha) field sites. Fires were ignited from a point, 400-mm and 800-mm line ignitions in the wind tunnel, and point and 120-m line ignitions in the field experiments. A total of 312 and 397 observations of distance travelled and time taken were made during the laboratory and field experiments respectively, along with associated environmental variables. Mean spread rates and standard deviations were significantly greater for the interval method than those of the cumulative method for all the laboratory data and the field point ignition fires, and the difference between them varied with distance and time since ignition. These findings have important implications for fire spread and acceleration model development.

Citation: Gould, Jim S.; Sullivan, Andrew L. 2020. Two methods for calculating wildland fire rate of forward spread. International Journal of Wildland Fire 29(3):272-281. https://doi.org/10.1071/WF19120
Topic(s): Fire Behavior, Data Evaluation or Data Analysis for Fire Modeling
Ecosystem(s): None
Document Type: Book or Chapter or Journal Article
NRFSN number: 20911
FRAMES RCS number: 60908
Record updated: Apr 7, 2020