International Journal of Wildland Fire International Journal of Wildland Fire Society
Journal of the International Association of Wildland Fire
RESEARCH ARTICLE

Mantras of wildland fire behaviour modelling: facts or fallacies?

Miguel G. Cruz A C , Martin E. Alexander B and Andrew L. Sullivan A
+ Author Affiliations
- Author Affiliations

A CSIRO, GPO Box 1700, Canberra, ACT 2601, Australia.

B Wild Rose Fire Behaviour, 180-50434 Range Road 232, Leduc County, AB, T4X 1L0, Canada.

C Corresponding author. Email: miguel.cruz@csiro.au

International Journal of Wildland Fire 26(11) 973-981 https://doi.org/10.1071/WF17097
Submitted: 13 February 2017  Accepted: 14 August 2017   Published: 24 October 2017

Abstract

Generalised statements about the state of fire science are often used to provide a simplified context for new work. This paper explores the validity of five frequently repeated statements regarding empirical and physical models for predicting wildland fire behaviour. For empirical models, these include statements that they: (1) work well over the range of their original data; and (2) are not appropriate for and should not be applied to conditions outside the range of the original data. For physical models, common statements include that they: (3) provide insight into the mechanisms that drive wildland fire spread and other aspects of fire behaviour; (4) give a better understanding of how fuel treatments modify fire behaviour; and (5) can be used to derive simplified models to predict fire behaviour operationally. The first statement was judged to be true only under certain conditions, whereas the second was shown not to be necessarily correct if valid data and appropriate modelling forms are used. Statements three through five, although theoretically valid, were considered not to be true given the current state of knowledge regarding fundamental wildland fire processes.

Additional keywords: empirical model, fuel characteristics, physical model, rate of fire spread.


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