USDA Forest Service

Pacific Southwest Research Station
Pacific Southwest
Research Station

800 Buchanan Street
Albany, CA 94710-0011
(510) 883-8830
United States Department of Agriculture Forest Service. USDA logo which links to the department's national site. Forest Service logo which links to the agency's national site.

Programs and Projects


Wildland Fire Management Research, Development, and Application

The Wildland Fire Management Research, Development, and Application work unit is primarily located at the Riverside Forest Fire Laboratory in Riverside, California. It is a research unit of the Pacific Southwest Research Station, headquartered in Albany, California. The unit and research station are part of the Forest Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Helping Fire and Resource Managers Make Decisions

Fire and resource managers today must attempt to consider an array of resource, environmental, social, political, economic, and fire behavior parameters when making fire management decisions. Through the use of technology such as geographic information systems, expert systems, risk analysis, and modeling, we will look at ways to improve the availability and usefulness of complex data to decision makers. Specifically, we will:

  • develop dynamic models for fire growth and fire suppression effectiveness using complex terrain, weather, and fuels data. These will help fire managers evaluate how well alternative fuels management and fire suppression strategies and tactics meet land and resource management objectives;
  • analyze the influence of social and non-commodity values in fire management decisions and develop methods to integrate their consideration with market resource values in fire management benefit-cost and risk analyses;and
  • develop ways to use seasonal fire weather forecasts in making decisions about fire management budgets and allocating protection forces to maximize regional and national fire program efficiency.

Research Emphasis Areas

Developing a Model to Help Minimize Risk to Structures from Wildland Fires
Houses in areas of flammable wildland fuel are often not located, constructed, or maintained to minimize the risk of their ignition when there are wildfires in the surrounding vegetation. In one study, we are developing a computer model to assess the potential for structures to ignite from wildland fire. The model is based on specific characteristics of a site, the surrounding fuels, and the planned or existing structure. Information from this assessment will help guide developers and home owners in the construction and maintenance of fire-safe homes in wildlands and help them mitigate potential fire-related problems.

Investigating Methods to Forecast Management Impacts
We are also investigating how population growth and changes in land use patterns will impact fire management. Our objective is to provide insights into future mitigation needs for zoning, residential development, fuels management, and fire protection planning.

Fire Weather Predictions
Good fire management planning requires fire weather predictions on several time scales ranging from hours to months. More about this topic.

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Last Modified: Mar 28, 2013 02:54:59 PM