WWETAC Projects

Project Title: ArcFuels

Principal Investigators: Ager, Alan, Operations Research Analyst, Nicole Vaillant, Fire Ecologist, Western Wildland Environmental Threat Assessment Center (WWETAC), Prineville, OR; Anderson, John, Lead programmer, BalanceTech, LLC, Missoula, MT


Key Issues/Problems Addressed:

Wildland fire risk assessment and fuel management planning on federal lands in the United States is a complex problem that often requires advanced fire behavior modeling and intensive spatial data analyses. This process is complicated by the lack of data integration among fire behavior models and weak linkages to geographic information systems, corporate data, and desktop office software.

Setting and Approach:

Beginning in 2004, an assessment was completed of the fire behavior and vegetation models in use by agency land managers in the western U.S., along with the scale and purpose for which they were applied in projects. Data sources, formats, outputs, and other aspects of the models were examined for their potential contribution to analyzing wildfire risk and fuel management issues. From this information, ArcFuels, a system of integrated spatial analysis and fire behavior modeling tools within ArcMap, was built to streamline the fuel management planning process and provide tools for quantitative wildfire risk assessment.

Key Findings:

  • The organization and processing of a wide spectrum of data within GIS to meet broad resource analysis requirements is critical to fuel management planning.
  • Few fire behavior models were developed specifically for fuel management planning, and with integration of multiple objectives and constraints.
  • Both stand and landscape scale fire behavior modeling tools are needed in order to test stand prescriptions and the landscape effectiveness of proposed fuel treatments.
  • Results can be best evaluated when case studies of fuel treatments include detailed reporting of parameters and assumptions. Calibration with empirical data and sensitivity analyses should accompany all modeling efforts to ensure appropriate application to the fuel management and wildfire risk assessment problems.


ArcFuels provides a framework for model integration which utilizes geospatial analyses for designing and testing fuel treatment programs on fire-prone wildlands. ArcFuels is available at http://www.arcfuels.org/.


Ager, A. A., N.M. Vaillant, and M.A. Finney. 2011, Integrating fire behavior models and geospatial analysis for wildland fire risk assessment and fuel management planning.  Journal of Combustion, vol. 2011, Article ID 572452, 19 pages, 2011. doi:10.1155/2011/572452 (PDF, 2.83 MB)

Ager, A., B. Bahro and K. Barber. 2006. Automating the Fireshed Assessment Process with ArcGIS. In: Andrews, Patricia L.; Butler, Bret W., comps. 2006. Fuels Management—How to Measure Success: Conference Proceedings. 28-30 March 2006; Portland, OR. Proceedings RMRS-P-41. Fort Collins, CO: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station. pp 163 - 168 (PDF, 198 KB)

WWETAC Project ID:  FY07AA36