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Alberta Fire Risk Analysis using FIRETEC

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FIRETEC is a coupled atmosphere wildfire model developed at the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico. It is aimed at studying and understanding fire behaviour at the stand level. Coupled to HIGRAD, a computational atmospheric hydrodynamics model, FIRETEC is designed to represent the two-way interactions between a wildfire and the atmosphere close to the earth's surface.

The FIRETEC/HIGRAD modelling system is capable of examining potential fire behaviour characteristics in a range of weather and fuel conditions.The FIRETEC research team uses observations of fire behaviour from prescribed burns as a starting basis for simulations, ensuring the model can match realistic fire conditions with accuracy.  From there, variables such as stand structure, wind speed, and topography can be isolated and changed in the simulation environment to examine their impacts on fire behaviour.


The research team is using FIRETEC to assess the impacts of fuel treatments (such as stand thinning) on potential fire behaviour in the Wildland-Urban Interface. Ultimately, the goal is to provide wildfire managers and communities support for their decisions on which fuel treatment options are best suited for their community. Work is also underway to examine extreme fire behaviour and spotting distances during the 2016 Fort McMurray fire.


The Alberta fire risk analysis using FIRETEC is a project funded by the Alberta Wildfire Management Science & Technology program.

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