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The BehavePlus fire modeling system is a PC-based computer program that can be used for any fire management application that involves modeling fire behavior and fire effects. The system is composed of a collection of mathematical models that describe fire behavior, fire effects, and the fire environment. The program simulates rate of fire spread, spotting distance, scorch height, tree mortality, fuel moisture, wind adjustment factor, and many other fire behaviors and effects; so it is commonly used to predict fire behavior in several situations.

Overview and Applicability

Image showing the cover of the BehavePlus fire modeling system General Technical Report, RMRS-GTR-213.
Image showing the cover of the BehavePlus fire modeling system General Technical Report, RMRS-GTR-213.

Some applications of BehavePlus include:

  • Predicting the behavior of an ongoing fire. Historically, this was the original use for Behave as described by Rothermel  (1983) in "How to Predict the Spread and Intensity of Forest and Range Fires." Today, the modern version of Behave, BehavePlus Version 5.0.1, is even more powerful for predicting fire behavior during wildfires and prescribed fires in the United States and other countries because of its expanded features and capabilities.

  • Planning fire treatments. Contingency planning depends on complex fire variables, such as spotting distance, probability of ignition, spot fire growth, and probability of containment. All of these are modeled within BehavePlus to facilitate planning of prescribed fires for ecological restoration or fuel reduction programs.

  • Assessing fuel hazard. BehavePlus allows for easy manipulation of fuel moistures and wind conditions. Variations in these factors affect fire behavior in surface and crown fuels so understanding the sensitivity of fuels to moisture and wind is essential to assessing whether fuel accumulations have potentials to burn or whether planned treatments may be dangerous to fire fighters or the public.

  • Understanding fire behavior. Modeling systems are excellent sources for educating and training personnel on the subtleties of fire behavior. The complex interactions among fire, fuel, moisture, and wind can be easily explored in BehavePlus by changing input variables and fuel conditions for each model run. This makes BehavePlus well suited to learning about fire behavior in safe surroundings.


Input variables are extensive and documented here:


Output variables are extensive and documented here:

Restrictions and Limitations

Successful application of BehavePlus depends upon knowledgeable user decisions. To effectively use BehavePlus in fire modeling, users must have enough fire and fuel experience and fire behavior training to recognize whether their input values are reasonable and make appropriate adjustments.


Heinsch, Faith Ann; Andrews, Patricia L. 2010. BehavePlus fire modeling system, version 5.0: Design and Features. Gen. Tech. Rep. RMRS-GTR-249. Fort Collins, CO: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station. 111 p.

Research Topics: 
Fire; Fire effects on environment
National Strategic Program Areas: 
Wildland Fire and Fuels
National Priority Research Areas: 
Forest Disturbances
RMRS Science Program Areas: 
Fire, Fuel and Smoke
RMRS Strategic Priorities: 
Fire Sciences