Wildland Urban Interface
r T here are three predictors when calculating fire behavior in the wildland-urban interface (WUI): weather, topography, and fuel. We can look at
each one independently or together; each topic is a
discussion in itself. The Campbell Prediction System
discusses the forces behind each one of these topics
and how they can greatly influence the intensity and
speed of a wildland fire. When the three elements
are working in each other’s favor, this is termed full
How does this work? There are many contributing
factors. The most important topics within each one
includes the following:
• Weather: strong steady winds more than 20 miles
• Topography: steep slope.
• Fuel: dry, heavy fuel load.
When the wind is traveling at a significant speed up
a steep slope with a dry heavy fuel load, we have “full
alignment.” As discussed in the Campbell Prediction
System, we can determine where the fire is going,
Now there are many other factors to consider such
as weather forecasts, what aspect the slope is on, what
time of day, burn time of the fuels, if there is light-
ning in the area, and if the atmosphere is stable or
not. Nothing is ever as simple as it seems. However,
when we get back to the basics, when the fire is in full
alignment, we will have a very predictable outcome.
We can use this model with many different aspects in
the fire service.
Let’s talk about preplanning. It is a hot topic in
the fire service and a must for all fire departments
to accomplish in their respective jurisdiction. When
we commit to helping our customers with life safety
inspections, we can also update or formulate our preplan of a commercial structure. While we are ensuring
community safety is at the forefront of our priority
list, we can accomplish a tactical plan in case an emergency was to happen at the occupancy. The inspection
Three predictors of fire behavior:
weather, topography, and fuel
There are three predictors when
calculating fire behavior in the
wildland-urban interface (WUI):
weather, topography, and fuel.
(Photo by Pixabay.)