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

Development of a laboratory protocol for fire performance of landscape plants

Matthew G. Etlinger A and Frank C. Beall A B
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A University of California Forest Products Laboratory, 1301 South 46th Street, Richmond, CA 94804, USA.

B Corresponding author. Telephone: +1 510 231 9564; fax: +1 510 231 9427; email:

International Journal of Wildland Fire 13(4) 479-488
Submitted: 24 August 2004  Accepted: 4 October 2004   Published: 15 December 2004


Over 2.5 million people and 1 million structures risk destruction from wildland fires in California. One way to mitigate this risk is the manipulation and/or selection of landscape vegetation. In this study, six species were studied for their intrinsic characteristics and tested with a newly-developed laboratory fire protocol at 150 kW to determine heat release rate (HRR). The plants were 2–3 years old and obtained from a local nursery. Whole plants were subjected to desiccation in a dry kiln at 50°C, which was found to be much more effective than simulating fire weather in a greenhouse. This is apparently the first study that has measured plant variables, burned them in a natural vertical position, and related HRR to the plant characteristics. Multiple regression showed the overwhelming importance of foliage and moisture content to peak HRR. Chemical variables were not significant and high moisture contents were found to obscure other plant characteristics.


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