What are the safety implications of crown fires?
Document Type: Conference Paper
Author(s): Martin E. Alexander; Miguel G. Cruz
Publication Year: 2011

Cataloging Information

  • crown fire
  • crowning
  • fire environment
  • firefighter fatalities
  • firefighter safety
  • fireline intensity
  • flame depth
  • flame front
  • flame height
  • flame length
  • rate of spread
  • residence time
Partner Site(s):
JFSP Project Number(s):
Record Maintained By:
Record Last Modified: October 8, 2020
FRAMES Record Number: 10738


In his pioneering work on the common denominators of fire behavior associated with fatal and near-fatal wildland fires published in 1977, Carl Wilson pointed out that many firefighters were surprised to learn that tragedy and near-miss incidents occurred in fairly light fuels, on small fires or isolated sectors of large fires, and that fire behavior was relatively quiet just before the incident. This is certainly a valid conclusion as the general belief had been that high-intensity crown fires in timber were responsible for entrapping and burning-over firefighters. The focus of this paper is on contrasting several fire behavior characteristics (e.g. forward or head fire rate of spread, fireline intensity, flame depth) between fully-cured grass and conifer forest in relation to wind speed for a fixed set of burning conditions. The results of this comparison coupled with the new knowledge gained from research studies undertaken since the late 1970s, indicate that there is a general need for a readjustment in the emphasis placed on certain aspects of fire behavior in current firefighter safety awareness training.

Online Link(s):
Alexander, Martin E.; Cruz, Miguel G. 2011. What are the safety implications of crown fires? Proceedings of 11th International Wildland Fire Safety Summit, April 4-8, 2011, Missoula, Montana, USA. Missoula, Montana: International Association of Wildland Fire. 16 p.