How to generate and interpret fire characteristics charts for surface and crown fire behavior
Document Type: Report
Author(s): Patricia L. Andrews; Faith Ann Heinsch; Luke Schelvan
Publication Year: 2011

Cataloging Information

  • computer program
  • crown fires
  • fire characteristics chart
  • fire control
  • fire intensity
  • fire management
  • fire modeling
  • fire spread
  • fire suppression
  • flame length
  • flank fires
  • forest management
  • fuel management
  • fuel moisture
  • headfires
  • overstory
  • rate of spread
  • sloping terrain
  • statistical analysis
  • surface fires
  • wildfires
  • wildland fire
  • wind
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Record Maintained By:
Record Last Modified: June 1, 2018
FRAMES Record Number: 10042
Tall Timbers Record Number: 27069
TTRS Location Status: In-file
TTRS Abstract Status: Okay, Fair use, Reproduced by permission

This bibliographic record was either created or modified by the Tall Timbers Research Station and Land Conservancy and is provided without charge to promote research and education in Fire Ecology. The E.V. Komarek Fire Ecology Database is the intellectual property of the Tall Timbers Research Station and Land Conservancy.


A fire characteristics chart is a graph that presents primary related fire behavior characteristics-rate of spread, flame length, fireline intensity, and heat per unit area. It helps communicate and interpret modeled or observed fire behavior. The Fire Characteristics Chart computer program plots either observed fire behavior or values that have been calculated by another computer program such as the BehavePlus fire modeling system. Program operation is described in this report, and its flexibility in format, color, and labeling is demonstrated for use in a variety of reports. A chart produced by the program is suitable for inclusion in briefings, reports, and presentations. Example applications are given for fire model understanding, observed crown fire behavior, ignition pattern effect on fire behavior, prescribed fire planning, briefings, and case studies. The mathematical foundation for the charts is also described. Separate charts are available for surface fire and crown fire because of differences in the flame length model used for each.

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Link to this document (4.5 MB; pdf-TreeSearch)
Andrews, Patricia L.; Heinsch, Faith A.; Schelvan, Luke. 2011. How to generate and interpret fire characteristics charts for surface and crown fire behavior. General Technical Report RMRS-GTR-253. Fort Collins, CO: USDA Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station. 40 p.