How much fuel is in that pile or windrow?
Document Type: Journal Article
Author(s): Martin E. Alexander
Publication Year: 2007

Cataloging Information

  • calculator program
  • fuel load estimates
  • preburn fuel weights
  • windrows
  • woody debris piles
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Record Last Modified: June 3, 2019
FRAMES Record Number: 10960


I've often been asked by both fire managers and other fire researchers how to sample the fuel weight in woody debris piles and windrows. Certainly, the planar (Anderson 1978; Brown 1974; Brown and others 1982) or line intersect techniques (McRae and others 1979; Taylor 1997; Van Wagner 1982) are not very efficient methods for sampling in these kinds of fuel complexes. Other more practical techniques exist (e.g., Hardy 1996; Johansen 1981; Johnson 1984; McNab 1980; McNab and Saucier 1980; Mohler 1977). In this brief article, I will list the relevant literature and highlight the existence of a simple, freely available computer program now available for calculating the fuel weights of woody debris piles and windrows. The Washington Department of Natural Resources has developed a user-friendly, online calculator program for determining the fuel weights of debris piles and windrows ( The program is based on Hardy's (1996) publication. If you have a need to know preburn fuel weights of debris piles or windrows, this calculator offers a quick and easy approach. Users are required to input one of three possible pile or windrow shapes i.e., half section of a sphere, paraboloid, or a half-clylinder (Alexander 2006)-as well as the length, height, and width of the pile or windrow (either measured or estimated) and the number of piles or windrows with these attributes. Finally, the user is required to specify the percent volume by tree species based on ocular estimates.

Online Link(s):
Link to this document (76 KB; pdf)
Alexander, M. E. 2007. How much fuel is in that pile or windrow? Fire Management Today 67(3): 12-13, 27.