USDA Forest Service

Fire and Environmental Research Applications Team


Fire and Environmental Research Applications Team
Pacific Wildland Fire Sciences Laboratory

400 N 34th Street, Suite 201
Seattle, WA 98103

(206) 732-7800

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United States Department of Agriculture Forest Service.

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Icon of a magnifying glassConsume 4.2

Consume is a decision-making tool designed to assist resource managers in planning for wildland fire events (e.g., prescribed fires and wildfires).  Consume predicts fuel consumption, pollutant emissions, and heat release based on fuel loadings, fuel moisture, and other environmental factors.  Using these predictions, resource managers can determine when and where to conduct a prescribed burn or manage an unplanned wildland fire to achieve desired objectives while reducing the impact on other resources. Consume v 4.2 reflects an improved understanding of fuel consumption and emissions in wildland fire throughout major fuel types in the United States. 

Fuel consumption is a key variable in fire effects modeling and in understanding when and how fire should be applied to meet site and landscape objectives while at the same time reducing air quality impacts.  Until recently, much of the considerable research on fuel consumption focused on prescribed burning following logging in forested ecosystems. FERA recently completed several fuel consumption studies in natural fuel settings to improve our understanding of fuel consumption in wildland fuels for shrublands (including chaparral, sageland and palmetto/galberry types), hardwood forests (including southern and eastern regions of the United States), and boreal forests (including white spruce, black spruce and hardwood forests of Alaska). 

Improved models of fuel consumption were incorporated into Consume v 3.0. We also resolved differences in fuel consumption between the relatively short flaming phase of combustion and the longer smoldering phase of combustion that generally contributes the majority of wildland fire emissions.

Model development is currently underway to:

  1. Validate fuel consumption predictions,
  2. Refine forest floor reduction models to provide more reasonable predictions, and
  3. Create consumption models for new vegetation types including a new shrub consumption model for southern pine forests and consumption models for eastern mixed hardwood forests types.
Software Development

Consume 4.2 has been recoded as a calculator module that can be used within the Fuel and Fire Tools or as a command line version. .  The python source code is a freely sharable module that has been incorporated into BlueSky and the Wildland Fire Emissions Inventory System.  An earlier version (Consume 4.0) has been included in the Integrated Fuel Treatment Decision Support System (IFT-DSS) but has not been fully tested and does not return the same values as Consume 4.2.

Earlier Versions

Consume 1.0 was released in 1993 as a Microsoft DOS-based application that predicted fuel consumption and emissions from logging slash burns.

Consume 2.1 was released in 2002 and predicted fuel consumption based on activity fuel equations developed from broadcast slash burning in Pacific Northwest forest types. Improvements to version 1.0 included a Microsoft Windows User Interface, built-in fuel loading profiles and updated equations.

Consume 3.0 was released in 2005 and ran on Windows 2000 and XP operating systems. Due to compatibility issues with .NET versions, it is not recommended for installation on Windows 7 and higher operating systems.  A major advance in Consume 3.0 was its inclusion of natural fuel consumption equations in addition to the activity fuel equations supported by Consume 2.1.  All equations have been migrated to Consume 4.2, but results may differ between Consume 3.0 and 4.2 outputs due to some minor code corrections in addition to updates to FCCS fuelbeds.

Related Research

Validation of Fuel Consumption Models for Smoke Management Planning in the Eastern Regions of the United States

Fuel Consumption and Flammability Thresholds in Shrub-Dominated Ecosystems

Forest Floor Consumption and Smoke Characterization in Boreal Forested Fuelbed Types of Alaska

Selected Publications

Prichard, S.J.;  Karau, E.C.;  Ottmar, R.D.; Kennedy, M.C.;  Cronan, J.B.; Wright, C.; Keane, R. 2014. A comparison of the Consume and FOFEM fuel consumption models in pine and mixed hardwood forests of the eastern United States. Canadian Journal of Forest Research. 44(7): 784-795.
Full text [.pdf]

Joint Fire Science Program. 2009. Consume 3.0--a software tool for computing fuel consumption. Fire Science Brief. 66, June 2009. 6 p.
Full text [.pdf]

Ottmar, Roger D.; Prichard, Susan J.; Vihnanek, Robert E.; Sandberg, David V. Modification and validation of fuel consumption models for shrub and forested lands in the Southwest, Pacific Northwest, Rockies, Midwest, Southeast, and Alaska. Final report.
Full text [.pdf]

Ottmar, R.D.; Sandberg, D.V.; Bluhm, A. 2003. Biomass consumption and carbon pools. Poster. In: Galley, K.E.M., Klinger, R.C.; Sugihara, N.G. (eds) Proceedings of Fire Ecology, Prevention, and Management. Misc. Pub. 13. Tallahassee, FL: Tall Timbers Research Station.
Full text [.pdf]

Hollis, J.J.; Matthews, S.; Ottmar, R.D.; Prichard, S.J.; Slijepcevic, A.; Burrows, N.D.; Ward, B.; Tolhurst, K.G.; Anderson, W.R.; Gould, J.S. 2010. Testing woody fuel consumption models for application in Australian southern eucalypt forest fires. Forest Ecology and Management. 260: 948-964.
Abstract and full text [.html]


Team Lead: Roger Ottmar

Logo of the Joint Fire Science ProgramThis research was partially funded by the National Fire Plan, and we acknowledge funding from the Joint Fire Science Program under Project 98-1-9-06.

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