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

www.fs.fed.us/pnw/fera/firehouse 

Fire Area Simulator (FARSITE)
FARSITE is a fire growth simulation model that uses spatial information on topography and fuels along with weather and wind files. It incorporates the existing models for surface fire, crown fire, spotting, post-frontal combustion, and fire acceleration into a 2-dimensional fire growth model. FARSITE runs under Microsoft Windows operating systems (Windows 98, me, NT, 2000, and XP) and features a graphical interface; users must have the support of a geographic information system (GIS) to use FARSITE because it requires spatial landscape information to run. FARSITE is designed for use by users familiar with fuels, weather, topography, wildfire situations and the associated terminology. Because of its complexity, only users with the proper fire behavior training and experience should use FARSITE where the outputs are to be used for making fire and land management decisions.

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Using FARSITE to Test Fuel Treatments in the Sierra Nevada, California
Fuel treatments are necessary in many vegetated areas of the Sierra Nevada to mitigate the effects of decades of fire suppression and land-management activities on fuel accumulations and understory canopies. Treating fuels will reduce the severity of wildfires and, as a result, the threat to human lives, the destruction of property and valuable resources, and the alteration of natural fire regimes. This chapter describes the use of a deterministic fire-modeling approach to obtain information about the relative effectiveness of fuel treatments, including fuel breaks, prescribed burning, biomassing, piling and burning, and cutting and scattering. Wildfire spread was simulated under idealized conditions to see how specific fuel and stand treatments affect fire behavior. It was obvious from the simulations that fuel breaks alone do not halt the spread of wildfire. Prescribed burning appears to be the most effective treatment for reducing a fire’s rate of spread, fireline intensity, flame length, and heat per unit of area. A management scheme that includes a combination of fuel treatments in conjunction with other land-management scenarios should be successful in reducing the size and intensity of wildfires.

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Creating FARSITE Spatial Data for the Gila National Forest, New Mexico
Fuels and vegetation spatial data layers required by the spatially explicit fire growth model FARSITE were developed for all lands in and around the Gila National Forest in New Mexico. Satellite imagery, terrain modeling, and biophysical simulation were used to create the three vegetation spatial data layers of biophysical settings, cover type, and structural stage. Fire behavior fuel models and vegetation characteristics needed by FARSITE were assigned to combinations of categories on maps developed from sampled field data and also from estimates by local fire managers, ecologists, and resource specialists. FARSITE fuels maps will be used to simulate growth of fires on the Gila National Forest aiding managers in the planning and allocation of resources for managing fire. An extensive accuracy assessment of all maps indicated surface and crown fuels layers are about 30 to 40 percent accurate. This methodology was designed to be replicated for other areas of the western United States.

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Comments/suggestions?Last updated: 02/15/2007
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