Fuel is the part of the fire behavior triangle that we can directly affect. So, we know that we need to get more proactive with fuels treatments and prescribed fire if we want to get a better handle on the fire situation. As we shift towards more prescribed fire and fuels treatments, information for fuel and fire managers also needs to shift.
One clear difference is that the time scale for asking questions becomes less immediate, allowing more time for identifying and quantifying differences between alternatives. In this context, we need more detailed information about fuels. In many cases, the options for how we treat (or burn) depend a lot on the fuels we have. Given a particular stand structure, composition, and condition, what could be done? How will a treatment alter fuel loads now and in the future? How will such changes alter fire behavior? Under what conditions? The greater detail needed to answer these questions adds complexity but also offers more tangible pathways to solutions.
With respect to prescribed fire, how we lay out the ignition over time and space has a profound impact on both the fire behavior and fire effects as well as how much smoke is produced and where it goes. Numerous factors affect fire intensity and plume dynamics in prescribed burns, so modeling should ideally help untangle complexity and expose risk-based tradeoffs in treating fuels and planning prescribed fires.