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Fire Behavior Assessment Team

About us:

We are a unique fire module that measures pre-fire fuels/vegetation, active fire behavior (with sensors in the fire), and post-fire fuels/vegetation conditions during wildfires and prescribed fires. The team is led by Matt Dickinson with Carol Ewell as Assistant Lead and includes 6-12 fireline qualified personnel, at least one of which is crewboss qualified or more typically Division Supervisor qualified. See how to order us and 2006/2017 FBAT Fire Reports for more information on the team.

What can we do for prescribed fires or wildfires?

We are a unique module that specializes in measuring fire behavior on active fires in any fuel type on either prescribed or wildland fires. We utilize fire behavior sensors and special video camera set-ups to measure direction and variation in rate of spread, fire type (e.g. surface, passive or active crown fire behavior) in relation to fuel loading and configuration, topography, fuel moisture, weather and operations. We measure changes in fuels from the fire and can compare the effectiveness of past fuel treatments or fires on fire behavior and effects. We are prepared to process and report data while on the incident. The video and data are useful for conveying specific information to the public, line officers and others. We can also collect and analyze data to meet longer term management needs such as verifying or testing fire behavior modeling assumptions for fire management plans, unit resource management plans or project plans. We can address specific unit objectives such as effects to archeological, botanical or wildlife habitat resources in relation to fire behavior and fuels.


    Check out some of the sample FBAT video and timelapse recordings.
  • In 2018 FBAT began to collaborate with UNR and R5 Remote Sensing to use aerial and terrestrial lidar to characterize fuels in conjunction with FBAT plots. Please see the 2018 Ferguson Fire report below.
  • FBAT data is being prepared for placement in the Forest Service Research Data Archive. Soon scientists will be able to easily access over a decade of FBAT data for use in emissions, fire behavior and fire effects studies. The plot location data and tree data are posted in the archive, and other data types are currently being processed.
  • FBAT partnered with Dr. Jessica Miesel of Michigan State University on a study of carbon stocks in soil and forest floor fuels immediately before and after five wildfires in California mixed-conifer forests. The study, combining core FBAT pre-, active-, and post-fire measurements with additional black carbon measurements, explored relationships between fire severity and carbon pools and highlights the complexity of fire impacts on forest carbon. Link to paper
  • For the 2016 and 2017 fire seasons the Pacific Southwest Region asked FBAT to answer the question "What is the actual fire behavior in tree mortality areas?" Fire Behavior in Tree Mortality (2017) Powerpoint

FBAT Background & Methods

2006-2019 FBAT Fire Summary Reports:

Caples Fire 2019 - Eldorado National Forest
Walker Fire 2019 - Plumas National Forest
Alder Fire 2018
Ferguson Fire 2018
Pier Fire — 2017
Schaeffer Fire — 2017
Cedar Fire — 2016
Cabin Fire — 2015
Rough Fire — 2015
Willow Fire — Sierra National Forest — 2015
French Fire — Sierra National Forest — 2014
Beaver Fire — Klamath National Forest — 2014

This report contains the results of 8 plots with both pre- and post-fire fuels and fire behavior data collected in a variety of locations across the western and central portions of the Beaver fire. Some of this data shows intense fire behavior and large degrees of consumption.

King Fire — Eldorado National Forest — 2014

Aspen Fire — Sierra National Forest — 2013

This report contains the results of a one week assessment of fire behavior, vegetation and fuel loading and consumption, and fire effects to vegetation and soil resources for Division D that evolved to be Division F on the Aspen fire.

Rim Fire — Stanislaus National Forest — 2013

This report contains the results of a one week assessment of fire behavior, vegetation and fuel loading and consumption, and fire effects to vegetation and soil resources for two areas on the Rim Fire.

Lion Fire — Sequoia National Forest — 2011

This report contains the results of the fire behavior assessment in relation to fuels, topography, fuel moisture, and fire effects to resources for the Lion Fire on the Sequoia National Forest in the Golden Trout Wilderness in the southern Sierra Nevada.

Clover Wildland — Sequoia National Forest — 2008

This report contains the results of the assessment of fire behavior in relation to fuels, weather, topography, and fire effects to resources in relation to fire behavior for the Clover Wildland Fire Use Fire on the Sequoia National Forest on the Kern Plateau in the South Sierra Wilderness.

Ham Lake Fire on the Superior National Forest — November 2007

The FBAT team conducted post-fire effects measurements on the Ham Lake fire area.

Antelope Complex on the Plumas National Forest—July 2007

The FBAT team conducted both detailed fire behavior/fuels and post-fire effects measurements and a rapid assesssment of fire behavior through different fuel types and especially areas that had undergone fuel treatments. The use of treated areas on suppression and fire behavior were the emphasis of the assessment.

Florida/Georgia Wildfires—2007

The FBAT module made two trips to the southeast in late spring an early summer, focusing on changes in fire behavior through different fuel types and especially areas treated with prescribed fire. This included areas on the Okefenokee Refuge, Osceola National Forest and surrounding areas.

Ralston Incident, Tahoe National Forest—September 2006
Orleans Incident, Six Rivers National Forest—August 2006
Bar Incident, Shasta-Trinity National Forest—July 2006
  • Bar Incident Fire Behavior Assessment Report   (.pdf, 28 pages, 3493kb)
  • Tiger-Rock Incident, Arizona—July 2006
    Warm Incident, Kaibab National Forest—June 2006
    • The team met with the District and were given objectives of:
    • Data were collected on 10 sites, mostly in ponderosa pine. One site included what may be a rare and endangered cactus (identification is being confirmed), which was specifically censused. Rapid assessment post-fire effects were sampled on several randomly placed transects in Goshawk habitat.
    • A 30 page report was submitted to the district that included:   1) data on pre-fire fuels and vegetation structure; 2) fire behavior; 3) post-fire fuels and vegetation structure. Following review by the district, the report will be added to the website.
    • Warm Wildland Fire Use Fire ¤ Fire Behavior Assessment Report   (.pdf, 30 pages, 1321kb)
      Fire Behavior Assessment Team Monitoring Plots, Warm WFU Fire June 2006   (.pdf, map, 593kb)