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Type: Journal Article
Author(s): Miguel G. Cruz; Martin E. Alexander; Andrew L. Sullivan
Publication Date: 2017

Generalised statements about the state of fire science are often used to provide a simplified context for new work. This paper explores the validity of five frequently repeated statements regarding empirical and physical models for predicting wildland fire behaviour. For empirical models, these include statements that they: (1) work well over the range of their original data; and (2) are not appropriate for and should not be applied to conditions outside the range of the original data. For physical models, common statements include that they: (3) provide insight into the mechanisms that drive wildland fire spread and other aspects of fire behaviour; (4) give a better understanding of how fuel treatments modify fire behaviour; and (5) can be used to derive simplified models to predict fire behaviour operationally. The first statement was judged to be true only under certain conditions, whereas the second was shown not to be necessarily correct if valid data and appropriate modelling forms are used. Statements three through five, although theoretically valid, were considered not to be true given the current state of knowledge regarding fundamental wildland fire processes.

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Citation: Cruz, Miguel G.; Alexander, Martin E.; Sullivan, Andrew L. 2017. Mantras of wildland fire behaviour modelling: facts or fallacies? International Journal of Wildland Fire 26(11):973-981.

Cataloging Information

Fire Behavior    Fuels    Models
Alaska    California    Eastern    Great Basin    Hawaii    Northern Rockies    Northwest    Rocky Mountain    Southern    Southwest    International    National
Partner Sites:
  • empirical models
  • fire spread
  • fuel characteristics
  • physical models
  • rate of spread
Record Last Modified:
Record Maintained By: FRAMES Staff (
FRAMES Record Number: 25203