US Forest Service Research & Development
Contact Information
  • US Forest Service Research & Development
  • 1400 Independence Ave., SW
  • Washington, D.C. 20250-0003
  • 800-832-1355
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Bret W. Butler

Mechanical Engineer
5775 Hwy 10 W
United States

Phone: 406-329-4801
Contact Bret W. Butler

Current Research

My current research focuses on the develop of new understanding into the fundamental physics governing wildland fire ignition, spread and intensity, along with improved methods for quantifying wildland fire intensity using in-situ instrumentation.

Research Interests

My primary research interests include the development of tools for simulating wind flow at fine resolution, fire induced tree mortality, and improvement of existing firefighter safety zone guidelines.

Past Research

Wildland fire is a complex process that involves biology, chemistry, fluid dynamics and energy transfer. It is an everpresent phenomena in many natural ecosystems. Advances in our understanding of the fundamental physics governing fire facilitate improved methods and tools for managing fire safely and effectively.

Why This Research is Important

I developed the current Firefighter safety zone standards. I was the lead scientist on the development of the WindWizard and WindNinja wind modeling systems. I was the lead scientist for the development of the FireStem tree mortality simulation model.


  • Brigham Young University, B.S. Mechanical Engineering 1986
  • Brigham Young University, M.S. Mechanical Engineering 1988
  • Brigham Young University, Ph.D. Mechanical Engineering with an emphasis on energy transport in particle-laden flames. 1992

Featured Publications & Products


Research Highlights


Forest Service Researchers Focus on Firefighter Safety

Wildland firefighters continue to be injured or killed in fire entrapments. Past entrapment data indicates that policy changes, work practices, ...


Improving firefighter escape route mapping through LiDAR-based analysis

Wildland fires place firefighters in a dangerous working environment and their safety relies on knowing the safest pathways to a safety zone bef ...


Last updated on : 07/12/2019