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An update of the National Fire Danger Rating System

Photo of Fire danger categories
Fire danger categories Snapshot : The National Fire Danger Rating System (NFDRS) is a system that allows fire managers to estimate today's or tomorrow's fire danger for a given area. It combines the effects of existing and expected states of selected fire danger factors into one or more qualitative or numeric indices that reflect an area's fire protection needs. In 2014, RMRS fire danger rating system developers sought and gained approval to update the U.S. National Fire Danger Rating System (NFDRS).  

Principal Investigators(s) :
Jolly, William M.  
Research Location : National
Research Station : Rocky Mountain Research Station (RMRS)
Year : 2018
Highlight ID : 1425


This system has remained static for nearly 40 years, despite many scientific and technological advances that could significantly improve the system. The updated version of the National Fire Danger Rating System, also known as NFDRS 2016, was completed during the fall of 2017 and went into service during the 2018 fire season. It is much simpler and more automated than previous versions of the system.  Key findings: Results produced a fire danger rating that accurately compares with past records of fire behavior.  The new system takes into account fuel moisture levels and improves forecasting and multiple scales. The NFDRS 2016 reduced its number of fuel models from 40 to 5. It meets the needs of decision-makers at all levels while remaining simple and relevant to operational firefighters.