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Individual Highlight

Developing a fire model for homeowner-sized plats - Protecting lives and properties through proper selection of building and landscape materials

A fire growth model for homeowner-sized plats is being developed with state-of-the-art testing of realistic objects. Steve Schmieding, Forest ServiceSnapshot : This research is directed to development of fire growth model for the homeowner sized plat that would guide the user on better and aesthetic selections of building and landscaping construction to significantly reduce impact of an encroaching wild land fire, so that lives and properties are protected.

Principal Investigators(s) :
Dietenberger, Mark A. 
Research Station : Forest Products Laboratory (FPL)
Year : 2011
Highlight ID : 289


FPL researchers are developing a fire growth model for homeowner-sized plats. This model will help users make decisions concerning building and landscaping that result in reduced impacts of encroaching wildland fires while still being aesthetically pleasing. Current recommendations of 200 feet of vegetation clearance (and greater if upslope from a fire threat) and of noncombustible building construction is not an attractive option for many homeowners. It is possible to allow combustible objects of limited flammability impact, such as fire-retardant treated siding materials and strategic selection and placement of ornamental vegetation, even under the most severe wild land fire exposure.

Complementing the existing recommendations for managing buildings and landscapes to reduce their fire hazards, a fire growth computer model adds managing flexibility to direct attention to lower costs and better aesthetics with a further reduction of fire hazards. It can give the user a visual indication of why and how the fire mitigation can be achieved, even if certain building and landscape objects are ignited due to severe wildland fire exposures. The fundamental elements of the fire growth model are being developed with state-of-the-art fire testing of realistic objects, using a modified cone calorimeter and large scale heat release rate facility in conjunction with advanced mathematical solutions that allow modeling on a personal computer.

Forest Service Partners

External Partners

  • American Wood CouncilChemco Co.