Fire behavior predictions on iPhone

John Covele, President of Pocket Mobility. Photo:

More than 40,000,000 iPhones and iTouches have been sold and some of them are in the hands of firefighters. Fire behavior software that was originally written for computers running Windows, and Personal Digital Assistants on the Palm operating system, became available on June 1 for iPhones and iPod iTouches.

Wildland Toolkit

One of the programs is called Wildland Toolkit, and while it does not claim to run the BehavePlus program, the developer says its calculations “are similar to what is done with the BEHAVE software, but you will find the user interface much easier to use”.

The program was written by John Covele, who is a volunteer firefighter and EMT-B with the Boulder Rural Fire Protection District in Colorado. In his day job he is a software engineer and the owner of Peakview Software, formerly Pocket Mobility.

Screen shot from Wildland Toolkit (from

For the November, 2001 issue of Wildfire magazine I reviewed Fire Away which was Mr. Covele’s very early version of the program and was written for the Palm and Pocket PC operating systems. The software later evolved into Wildland Fire Toolkit for Windows based computers and for the Palm and Windows Mobile operating systems, and finally into the version we have today for the iPhone, Wildland Toolkit.

The BehavePlus and Wildland Toolkit programs both require wildland fire experience and formal wildland fire behavior training in order to input and interpret the data. After the user enters fuel, weather and topography information, it will generate:

  • Relative Humidity and Dew Point
  • Fine Dead Fuel Moisture
  • Probability of Ignition
  • Flame Length
  • Rate of Spread
  • Scorch Height
  • Direction of Maximum Spread
  • Effective Wind Speed

I have not seen a copy of the program, but judging from the web site, the program will not calculate some outputs that the Behave program will, including Size, Spot, Contain, and Mortality. In an email, Mr. Covele said Wildland Toolkit is…

…an evolution of the original FireAway [that] has been shipping for many years, with lots of features. The new iPhone version has fewer features since we have to port the software and rewrite it. Eventually, of course, it will have many of the same features and hopefully more new ones.

Based on the heritage of Wildland Toolkit for other platforms, you can expect more features to be added from the Fireline Handbook and Incident Response Pocket Guide, making this more of a general wildland fire reference and not just a calculator.

He said the initial updates will be free through iTunes.

911 Toolkit

Mr. Covele has another program for firefighters called 911 Toolkit. This program’s ancestor was the Fire Hose program which I reviewed in 2001. The new program, also available for the iPhone and iTouch, can calculate:

  • Flow Rate for solid stream and fog nozzles
  • Friction Loss for several hose types
  • Pump Pressure for desired nozzle pressure
  • Water volume in hoses
  • Dry weight of hoses
  • Total weight of hoses
  • Hydrant testing: observed and available flow rate

How much?

The Wildland Toolkit and 911 Toolkit are two of the 50,000 applications in the iPhone app store and sell for $9.99 and $4.99 respectively. The first versions, Fire Away and Fire Hose sold for $59.00 and $19 respectively, in 2001.

New iPhone available June 19

Apple today announced a new version of the iPhone, the iPhone 3GS, which will be available on June 19 for $199 to $699. Some of the new features include an electronic compass, a 3 MP camera with autofocus, a 30 fps video camera, and a beefier battery.

The existing 8GB iPhone 3G is still available but at a new reduced price, and of course they still only work on the AT&T network.

UPDATE: November 25, 2009

I talked with John Covele, of and asked him if he was going to develop a version for the Android operating system, and he said he has no plans to do so at the moment, but maybe if he heard from enough of us he would. You can send him an email from their “About” page.

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