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An update of the National Fire Danger Rating System

Date: September 13, 2018


Background

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). 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. 

Fire Danger Rating System
Fire Danger (photo by USDA Forest Service).

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.

 

 



National Strategic Program Areas: 
Resource Management and Use; Wildland Fire and Fuels
National Priority Research Areas: 
Forest Inventory and Analysis
RMRS Science Program Areas: 
Fire, Fuel and Smoke
RMRS Strategic Priorities: 
Fire Sciences
Geography: 
National
Principal Investigators: