The Fire Severity Mapping System (FIRESEV) project is an effort to provide critical information and tools to fire managers that enhance their ability to assess potential ecological effects of wildland fire. A major component of FIRESEV is the development of a Severe Fire Potential Map (SFPM), a geographic dataset covering the contiguous United States (CONUS) that quantifies the potential for wildland fires to burn with higher severity should they occur (Dillon et al 2011a). We developed this map using empirical observations and statistical models to relate biophysical conditions at the time and location of a fire to the resulting severity. For our purposes, burn severity refers to the degree to which aboveground biomass has been altered as expressed in the change between pre- and post-fire satellite imagery (Lentile et al 2006). Our aim in creating the SFPM is to explore the relationships between site characteristics and burn severity (Dillon et al 2011b) and to provide land managers with a tool that can forecast the potential severity of future fires.