Fire Communication & Education
Wildland fire management decision-makers need to quickly understand large amounts of quantitative information under stressful conditions. Categorization and visualization 'schemes' have long been used to help, but how they are done affects the speed and accuracy of interpretation. Using traditional fire management schemes can unduly restrict the design of new products. Our design process for Ontario’s fine-scale, spatially explicit, daily fire occurrence prediction (FOP) models led us to develop guidance for designing new schemes. We show selected historical fire management schemes and describe our method. It includes specifying goals and requirements, exploring design options and making trade-offs. The design options include gradient continuity, hue selection, range completeness and scale linearity. We apply our method to a case study on designing the scheme for Ontario's FOP models. We arrived at a smooth, nonlinear scale that accommodates data spanning many orders of magnitude. The colouring draws attention according to levels of concern, reveals meaningful spatial patterns and accommodates some colour vision deficiencies. Our method seems simple now but reconciles complex considerations and is useful for mapping many other datasets. Our method improved the clarity and ease of interpretation of several information products used by fire management decision-makers.