Simple question; difficult answer: How much fuel is acceptable?
Document Type: Journal Article
Author(s): Martin E. Alexander
Publication Year: 2007

Cataloging Information

  • fire behavior prediction
  • fire research
  • fuel appraisal
  • fuel loads
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Record Last Modified: June 3, 2019
FRAMES Record Number: 10959


Fire managers commonly want to know what quantity of wildland fuel is acceptable (Noble 1979). But this question-simple as it may seem-is difficult to answer. A host of factors are involved. Fire behavior depends not only on fire potential at one location, but on a range of associated factors that include the distribution and characteristics of the individual and collective elements comprising the fuel complex (table 1) and fire behavior potential across surrounding areas that could encompass one or more drainages. Acceptable fuel loads depend on resource values, management objectives for the land, pattern of land ownership, and suppression capability (fig. 1). In some stands, acceptable fuel load might depend on the resistance of trees to crown scorch and cambium kill (Outcalt and Wade 2004; Weatherspoon and Skinner 1995). Sound professional judgment (Haas 2003) is certainly needed to determine what can be considered acceptable fuel loads.

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Alexander, M. E. 2007. Simple question; difficult answer: How much fuel is acceptable?. Fire Management Today 67(3):6-11.