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Type: Conference Proceedings
Author(s): Jan C. Thomas; J. N. Everett; Albert Simeoni; Nicholas S. Skowronski; J. L. Torero
Editor(s): Derek Bradley; G. M. Makhviladze; V. Molkov; P. Sunderland; Francesco Tamanini
Publication Date: 2013

Pine needle litters, a key fuel in coniferous forest systems, are highly porous fuel beds. They provide a source of continuous fuel medium that can be easily ignited and will sustain flame spread on the ground during forest fires. This study is a continuation of previous flammability studies [1, 2]. In these studies dead needle beds were characterized and the influence of imposed air flow conditions, representing wind, on the burning dynamics were studied to understand flammability parameters such as the heat release rate and ignition time. The methodologies applied in the previous studies were improved with some modifications. Furthermore, fuel moisture content was added as an experimental parameter for wildland fuel flammability investigation because it is representative of live fuels which burn when crowning conditions develop. In general an increasing flow increases the flammability as peak heat release rates increase [3]. However, for low heat flux condition (representing low intensity, slow moving fire) the flow increases the time to ignition, due to cooling and mixing, hence lowering the hazard. Increased moisture content in needle litters favors smoldering decreasing the intensity and hence lowering the hazard. However it can create embers with a longer lifetime that can be picked up by the wind and act as ignition sources. This creates a different hazard that should be accounted for in the characterization. This work highlights the driving role of air flow and fuel moisture content on wildland fuel flammability. Each one individually drives fuel flammability in a different way and their combination has a variable influence in fire hazard. It is the intent of this research to deliver a detailed analysis of the importance of the main fuel and environmental parameters on the burning behavior of wildland fuels.

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Link to this document (820 KB; pdf)
Citation: Thomas, Jan C.; Everett, J.N.; Simeoni, Albert; Skowronski, Nicholas S.; Torero, J.L. 2013. Flammability study of pine needle beds. Bradley, D.; Makhviladze, G.M.; Molkov, V.; Sunderland, P.; Tamanini, Francesco (eds.). Proceedings of the Seventh International Seminar on Fire and Explosion Hazards. College Park, MD: University of Maryland. 10 p.

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  • calorimetry
  • fire dynamics
  • fire propagation
  • flammability
  • forest fuels
  • fuel moisture content
  • wildland fires
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Record Maintained By: FRAMES Staff (
FRAMES Record Number: 23830