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Fire-Danger Rating and Wildfire Occurrence in the Northeastern United States

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Although forest managers have used the National Fire-Danger Rating System (NFDRS) since 1972, neither that system nor the 1978 revision to that system were validated in the Northeastern United States. We compiled a data base consisting of 2,558 wildfires from seven Northeastern locations. Using weighted binomial regression, we examined the capability of the NFDRS to predict four measures of wildfire occurrence: probability of a fire day (i.e., a 24-hour day with at least one reported fire), number of fires per fire day, number of fires per day, and probability of a large-fire day. As a control, we also tested the predictive capability of two meteorological elements and five indices from three other fire-danger rating systems. The ignition component of the NFDRS and the Fosberg Fire Weather Index (FFWI) were the best predictors of the probability of a fire day. The NFDRS spread component, the initial spread index from the Canadian Fire Weather Index, and the FFWI were the best predictors of the number of fires per day. Significantly poorer results were obtained for the number of fires per fire day and the probability of a large-fire day. Forest Sci. 29:679-696.
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Keywords: Ignition; hazard; risk

Document Type: Journal Article

Affiliations: Project Leader, USDA Forest Service, North Central Forest Experiment Station, Stephen S. Nisbet Building, 1407 South Harrison Road, East Lansing, MI 48823

Publication date: 1983-12-01

More about this publication?
  • Forest Science is a peer-reviewed journal publishing fundamental and applied research that explores all aspects of natural and social sciences as they apply to the function and management of the forested ecosystems of the world. Topics include silviculture, forest management, biometrics, economics, entomology & pathology, fire & fuels management, forest ecology, genetics & tree improvement, geospatial technologies, harvesting & utilization, landscape ecology, operations research, forest policy, physiology, recreation, social sciences, soils & hydrology, and wildlife management.
    Forest Science is published bimonthly in February, April, June, August, October, and December.

    2016 Impact Factor: 1.782 (Rank 17/64 in forestry)

    Average time from submission to first decision: 62.5 days*
    June 1, 2016 to Feb. 28, 2017

    Also published by SAF:
    Journal of Forestry
    Other SAF Publications
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