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International Journal of Wildland Fire
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Article << Previous     |     Next >>   Contents Vol 15(1)

Science, technology, and human factors in fire danger rating: the Canadian experience.

Stephen W. Taylor A C, Martin E. Alexander B

A Natural Resources Canada, Canadian Forest Service, Pacific Forestry Centre, 506 W. Burnside Road, Victoria, BC, V8Z 1M5, Canada.
B Forest Engineering Research Institute of Canada, Wildland Fire Operations Research Group, 1176 Switzer Drive, Hinton, AB, T7V 1V3, Canada. Present address: Natural Resources Canada, Canadian Forest Service, Northern Forestry Centre, 5320-122 St, Edmonton, AB, T6H 3S5, Canada.
C Corresponding author. Email: staylor@nrcan.gc.ca
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The present paper reviews the development of the Canadian Forest Fire Danger Rating System (CFFDRS) and its implementation in Canada and elsewhere, and suggests how this experience can be applied in developing fire danger rating systems in other forest or wildland environments. Experience with the CFFDRS suggests that four key scientific, technological, and human elements need to be developed and integrated in a national forest fire danger rating system. First among these is a sustained program of scientific research to develop a system based on relationships between fire weather, fuels, and topography, and fire occurrence, behavior, and impact appropriate to the fire environment. Development of a reliable technical infrastructure to gather, process, and archive fire weather data and to disseminate fire weather forecasts, fire danger information, and fire behavior predictions within operational agencies is also important. Technology transfer and training in the use of fire danger information in fire operations are necessary, as are cooperation and communication between fire management agencies to share resources and set common standards for information, resources, and training. These elements must be appropriate to the needs and capabilities of fire managers, and must evolve as fire management objectives change. Fire danger systems are a form of media; system developers should be careful not to overemphasize scientific and technological elements at the expense of human and institutional factors. Effective fire danger systems are readily assimilated by and influence the organizational culture, which in turn influences the development of new technologies. Most importantly, common vision and a sense of common cause among fire scientists and fire managers are needed for successful implementation of a fire danger rating system.

Keywords: Canada; Canadian Forest Fire Danger Rating System; fire behavior; technology transfer; wildland fire research.

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