Revised National Fire Danger Rating System approaches rollout

In this video Dr. Matt Jolly talks about his current project — the first revision of the U.S. National Fire Danger Rating System in 40 years.

After I ran across the video above which mentions the revision of the National Fire Danger Rating System, it made me wonder about the status of the project.

The system tracks weather events through their effects on live and dead fuels and adjusts them accordingly based on forecasted weather. The most visible product, which is used by most large land management agencies in the United States, is the predicted fire danger, often expressed as adjectives ranging from Low to Extreme. (The system used in Australia has those five categories plus one more — “catastrophic” or “code red”.)

The NFDRS was first released for general use in 1972 and was revised in 1978 and 1988. Work on another revision began in 2000 and was last scheduled for completion in 2017. Reportedly this latest version is much simpler and more automated than its predecessors and represents a vast improvement in fire potential assessment capabilities.

Jon Wallace, a member of the team revising the system, said that in tests last year they discovered a flaw in the Nelson model which had been in use for several years that needed to be corrected. And, rounding methods and decimal points in Firefamily Plus and WIMS did not match.

National Fire Danger Rating System 2016

The team feels that all of the hidden issues and bugs have been squashed and rollout plans are being finalized. The U.S. Forest Service has released their plan, and Mr. Wallace will present one to the National Wildfire Coordinating Group the week of January 22.

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Author: Bill Gabbert

After working full time in wildland fire for 33 years, he continues to learn, and strives to be a Student of Fire.