Fuel and Fire Tools (FFT)

Website

http://www.fs.fed.us/pnw/fera/fft/

Purpose

Uses fuels data classified as fuelbeds to let users perform a variety of calculations related to fire behavior and emissions. These include predicting surface and crown fire behavior, fuel consumption, pollutant emissions (including carbon emissions), and heat release. The FFT integrates several tools that were previously stand-alone into a single user interface (including the FCCS).

Output

Relevant to carbon estimation, outputs include quantitative measures of carbon storage, combustible carbon (by fuelbed category) and estimates of emissions from fire.

Developed by

Fire and Environmental Research Applications Team (contact: Roger Ottmar)

Format

Downloadable software (Windows platform)

Geography

National (United States)

Scale (range)

Defined by user; applicable at multiple scales

Status

Complete, peer-reviewed. See more on the FFT page about integration with other tools and applications.

Training Requirement

2 (on a scale of 1-3). Moderate time investment (< 1 week). Taking a couple of hours to go through the integrated help system is highly recommended.

Potential Applications

Planning fuel reduction projects, prescribed fire planning, estimating carbon emissions from fires, regional assessments of fuel loading, carbon stores, and fire hazard or carbon accounting before and after a disturbance.

Caveats, Restrictions

The FFT uses fuelbeds as the basis for the tool outputs, therefore it is essential that these are characterized accurately across the landscape of interest. A default set of fuelbeds and environmental variables (e.g. moisture content) are included in the tool, but if fuels vary across a landscape, custom fuelbeds with custom environmental variables will need to be created. The Fire Emission Production Simulator is still in development.

Overview & Applicability

Fuel and Fire Tools (FFT) is a software application that integrates several fire management tools, including the Fuel Characteristics Classification System (FCCS - version 3.0), Consume (version 4.2), Fire Emission Production Simulator (FEPS - version 2.0; in development until Spring, 2015), Pile Calculator, and Digital Photo Series into a single user interface.

Fuelbeds vary widely in their physical attributes, potential fire behavior, and fire effects. The FFT suite of tools uses fuels data classified into fuelbeds to predict a suite of outputs related to prescribed and wildland fire. These outputs include several variables relevant to carbon accounting and quantification, such as estimations of carbon stores for different fuelbeds, carbon emissions from fire, and carbon flux from fire (before/after carbon estimations). The fuelbeds are designed to represent the diversity of fuels found throughout the United States.

Opening screen of the FFT tool

History

The FFT started out as several separate standalone tools, all developed by the Fire and Environmental Research Applications Team (FERA). Many of these tools have been in development since the 1990’s and have gone through several versions and updates. Several of these applications have been integrated into other tools and processes, likeBlueSky Playground,Interagency Fuel Treatment Decision Support System (IFT-DSS), andWildland Fire Emissions Information System (WFEIS). See the FFT main page for more detail.

Inputs and outputs

Inputs vary depending on the specific application. However, all applications require the user to choose the fuelbeds that most closely resemble their assessment area as a starting point. Users can select from an assembled list of fuelbeds which were compiled from published & unpublished literature, fuels photo series, fuels data sets and expert opinion. Alternatively, users can customize existing descriptions to create a set of fuelbeds to represent a particular scale of interest, or upload a fuelbed list from LANDFIRE. Environmental inputs are also required and vary by application.

FCCS:

Inputs include moisture content (%) of live herbaceous and shrub fuels, 1-hr, 10-hr and 100-hr woody fuels; midflame windspeed; and slope gradient. A default set of environmental variables is provided, which can be customized if environmental conditions vary across the assessment area.

Outputs include a calculation of fuel loadings, carbon and other summary fuel characteristics; and a prediction of surface fire behavior, crown fire potential, and available fuel potential index based on a scale of 0- 9 for each fuelbed.

Consume:

Inputs include fuel moisture (%) of 1000-hr woody fuels and duff; and the percent burned area for different fuels. Additional inputs are optional for extra applications.

Outputs include a prediction of total fuel consumption, pollutant emissions (including carbon dioxide emissions), and heat release for fuelbeds and burn units.

FEPS: (Please note: FEPS is under active development and is not fully functional within FFT at this time):

Inputs include minimums and maximums for air temperature, relative humidity, midflame and transport windspeed; fire shape; and times (0-23 hr) for fire start, stop sunrise, midday, and sunset.

Outputs include predictions of hourly fuel consumption, pollutant emissions, and heat release characteristics for prescribed burns and wildland fires.

Two additional applications are available as a part of FFT:

  • The web-based Digital Photo Series (DPS) can be launched within the FFT fuelbed editor for reference purposes. It is also available as a separate web-based tool on the FERA website.
  • The Pile Calculator is integrated within the Fuelbed Editor to allow creation and editing of pile information within fuelbeds. It is also available as a stand-alone tool and a web-based tool on the FERA website.

Restrictions and limitations

The FFT tools make point-based calculations of fuel characteristics and potential fire behavior and do not simulate fire spread across landscapes. However because fuelbeds have no inherent scale, outputs can be easily mapped in GIS by assigning polygons or raster cells with a unique fuelbed identification number. Since fuelbeds are used as the basis for each of the FFT applications, it is important that these are characterized accurately across the landscape of interest; default options are provided, but there are many ways to add customization within the FFT tools. It is also important to note that several environmental variables (e.g. fuel moisture) are required for each application and have a substantial impact on FFT predictions of fire behavior and emissions. Default values are provided in some situations, but if environmental conditions vary across a landscape, custom fuelbeds with custom environmental variables will be needed.

As noted above, the Fire Emission Production Simulator (FEPS) application is still in development and is not fully functional at this time.

Accessing the tool and additional information

The FFT suite of tools can be downloaded here: http://www.fs.fed.us/pnw/fera/fft

Links to the individual applications, and to peer-reviewed publications: http://www.fs.fed.us/pnw/fera/fccs.shtml