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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Mark A. Finney

Research Forester
5775 Highway 10 West
United States

Phone: 406-329-4832
Contact Mark A. Finney

Current Research

My current research focuses on the study of fire spread in deep and discontinuous fuel beds, which has promise for understanding many of the fire behaviors that we do not understand and cannot predict today (such as crown fire). Another expression of my research includes fire simulation for purposes of fire risk assessment, which has been done in direct support of the development of two major fire management systems (WFDSS and FPA). The FSPro model is used in WFDSS to estimate the probability of impact of an ongoing large fire. A similar model (FSIM) is used in FPA to estimate the burn probability and variability in fire behavior across large landscapes.

Research Interests

My research interests include fundamental processes in fire spread as well as applications of fire behavior models for fire management decision support and actuarial risk assessment.

Past Research

Fire behavior fundamentals are key to understanding the opportunities for improving fire behavior modeling - especially for crown fires. Although there are many fire behavior models, there is no ability to anticipate threshold-type behaviors of crown fires (spread vs. no spread transitions). Only by understanding the physics of these behaviors can we hope to improve management and mitigation of crown fire. Quantitative risk analysis is essential to evaluating cost-effective operations in fire management, whether those are fuel treatment operations or fire suppression operations. We must continue to use current modeling tools to address these issues while pursuing fundamental research that will ultimately lead to improved modeling.

Why This Research is Important

My past research has included fire history work in Washington State and California, prescribed fire effects on fuel consumption and tree mortality, and fire growth modeling.


  • Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO, B.S. Forest Management, Fire Science 1984
  • University of Washington, Seattle, M.S. Fire Ecology 1986
  • University of California, Berkeley, Ph.D. Wildland Fire Science 1991

Featured Publications & Products


Research Highlights


A practical approach to using fire simulations for operational planning and ecological research

Station scientists have developed a simulation system designed to estimate the probabilistic components of wildfire risk for Fire Planning Units ...


Role of Buoyant Flame Dynamics in Wildfire Spread

The phrase “spreads like wildfire” is well-known but until recent discoveries through experiments, it wasn’t well-known how wildfires actu ...


Understanding the physical processes of fire spread

The latest research suggests a completely new approach to understanding and modeling the spread of forest fires - creating new opportunities for ...


Last updated on : 01/09/2020