Control measure – Use a wildfire prediction system

Control Measure Knowledge

Fire and rescue personnel need to understand and predict fire behaviour and extreme fire behaviour at wildfires, in order to recognise potential hazards and to manage the safety of personnel and others. The main method for predicting and anticipating likely fire behaviour is to apply an appropriate wildfire prediction system at every wildfire incident.

The key principle behind an appropriate wildfire prediction system is that fire behaviour within any given fuel is influenced predominantly by three major forces:

  • Wind
  • Slope
  • Aspect

These three factors are referred to as the ‘forces of alignment’, because whenever a wildfire is supported by either the wind, slope and/or aspect it will burn with greater intensity and spread more rapidly. If the fire loses the support of the wind, slope and/or aspect the intensity and rate of spread will decrease. An understanding of how these three factors, along with the type, condition and continuity of the fuel, influence fire behaviour and firespread is of vital importance for developing safe and effective tactical plans for wildfires. More specifically, this understanding is necessary for:

It should be understood that sometimes the parts of the fire that show little activity (for example, lower intensity parts of the fire with lower rates of firespread) may actually have the most potential for future fire development. Tactical plans for wildfires should be based on what it is likely to happen in the future, and the initial and continuing priority must be to analyse the fire perimeter and establish what potential each part of the fire has for changes in intensity and firespread.

Refer to the section on ‘The wildfire prediction system’ in the Scottish Government’s Wildfire Operational Guidance for further information about predicting fire behaviour.

Strategic Actions

Tactical Actions