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Review of users' needs in operational fire danger estimation: the Oklahoma example

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This paper reviews users' needs in operational fire danger systems, that is, those systems which provide routine (e.g. daily) assessments of fire danger over broad geographical areas. We begin by discussing those elements comprising the fire environment: topography, fuels and weather. With respect to wildland fuels, we consider fuel models, live and dead fuels, and the role of remote sensing in this arena. Weather, both current and forecast, is seen to be crucial and the one element common to all operational systems. We then consider fire models, which utilize the environmental input and produce fire danger output related to either fire potential or behaviour. We end the review with a look at fire detection systems and the need for near-real-time accessibility of fire danger information. The paper then concludes with a specific example of an operational fire danger system from the state of Oklahoma (USA). Use of a mesoscale automated weather station network, the Oklahoma Mesonet, allows for a suite of near-real-time fire management products, and dissemination over the World Wide Web permits quick and easy access. These products have proved to be useful to the wildland fire management community in Oklahoma, both in terms of wildfire anticipation and suppression and in terms of prescribed fire activities.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Biosystems and Agricultural Engineering, Oklahoma State University, Stillwater, OK 74078, USA; e-mail: [email protected] 2: Fire Sciences Laboratory, Rocky Mountain Research Station, USDA Forest Service, Missoula, MT 59807, USA; e-mail: [email protected]

Publication date: April 1, 2003

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