The Northwest and Alaska Fire Research Clearinghouse
 The Northwest and Alaska Fire Research Clearinghouse

www.fs.fed.us/pnw/fera/firehouse 

Fuel Characteristic Classification System (FCCS)
The Fuel Characterization Classification System (FCCS) offers fire managers, air quality managers, researchers, and carbon modelers across the United States a comprehensive, nationally consistent, and durable system of fuelbed classification that captures the structural complexity and geographical diversity of fuelbeds. The FCCS is an alternative to stylized fuel models. It is designed to provide the best possible calculations of fuelbed characteristics and potential fire behavior and effects, given as much or as little site-specific information as is available. It provides fuels data along with inputs necessary for fire effects, fire behavior, dynamic vegetation, smoke emission and carbon sequestration models. It also provides fire potentials, specifically, indices representing the intrinsic capacity of a fuelbed for surface fire behavior, crowning potential, and fuel consumption. The fire potentials can then be used to assess fire potential hazards and support fuel treatment decisions at local, regional and national scales. The FCCS facilitates mapping of fuels and fire hazard, and simplifies communication of the degree of fire hazard.

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Measuring the Effectiveness of Fuel Treatments in the Pacific Northwest Using FCCS
Resource managers need spatially explicit fuels data to manage fire hazard and evaluate the ecological effects of wildland fires and fuel treatments. For this study, fuels were mapped on the Okanogan and Wenatchee National Forests (OWNF) using a rule-based method and the FCCS. The FCCS classifies fuels based on their combustion properties, producing unique “fuel beds,” each of which represents a distinct fire environment. Managers on the OWNF identified 187 fuel beds which were consolidated into 40 general fuel beds representing the major vegetation forms (forest vs. non-forest) and species groups. Fuel beds were assigned to each 25-m cell in the forest domain using decision rules based on a combination of spatial data layers. General fuel beds can then be subdivided into specific structural types using spatial data on canopy cover, quadratic mean diameter, and past disturbances (fires, insects, and management). This rule-based approach allows for the incorporation of more specific data if available or a more general classification if they are unavailable, and for reclassification when new data become available. Key uses of the fuels map include spatially explicit modeling of fire effects and assessment of spatial patterns of fire hazard under different management strategies.

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Linking GIS Vegetation Data to the FCCS: Estimating Fuel Loadings Across the United States
Fuel maps based on remote sensing and field data provide valuable information for modelers and managers, but are only snapshots in time. This project is developing dynamic fuel maps for the contiguous United States that can be updated as ecosystems change over time. The FCCS quantifies live and dead fuel loadings into means and ranges for 16 categories of fuels across 6 strata, from canopy to duff. GIS coverages (1-km) of potential vegetation, current vegetation cover, land use, climatic variables, and historical fire regimes are overlaid, and one or more FCCS fuelbeds are assigned to each cell on the landscape. Several fire potentials are calculated from the fuelbed database: fire behavior potential, crown fire potential, and available fuel potential. Local-scale data are then used to validate the classifications. The FCCS allows visualization and quantification of the distribution of fuels across the contiguous United States, and will provide input for emissions and dispersion models under different management, land-use, and climatic-change scenarios. Funding for this project has been provided by the National Fire Plan and the Environmental Protection Agency.

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Comments/suggestions?Last updated: 01/18/2007
FIREHouse is a collaboration between the Fire and Environmental Research Applications Team (FERA) of the USDA Forest Service Pacific Northwest Research Station, Pacific Wildland Fire Sciences Laboratory; the University of Washington; the National Park Service; the Bureau of Land Management – Alaska Fire Service; the US Fish and Wildlife Service; and the National Biological Information Infrastructure (NBII). The NBII is a broad, collaborative program that provides increased access to data and information on the nation’s biological resources. Funding for FIREHouse has been provided by the Joint Fire Science Program (JFSP) and NBII. FIREHouse is coordinating efforts with the Fire Research and Management Exchange System (FRAMES) project team. Content on FIREHouse will provide substantial contributions to the Northwest Fire Science Portal and the Alaska Fire Science Portal.
 
Joint Fire Science Program (JFSP) Fire and Environmental Research Applications Team, Pacific Wildland Fire Sciences Laboratory, PNW Research Station, USDA Forest Service, Seattle, WA USDA Forest Service Fire Research and Management Exchange System (FRAMES)    National Biological Information Infrastructure
College of Forest Resources, University of Washington, Seattle, WA
National Park Service Alaska Fire Service US Fish & Wildlife Service