FARSITE: Fire Area Simulator - model development and evaluation (Revised)
Document Type: Report
Author(s): Mark A. Finney
Publication Year: 1998
Revised 2004

Cataloging Information

  • crown fires
  • FARSITE - Fire Area Simulator
  • fire behavior models
  • fire danger rating
  • fire growth
  • fire growth modeling
  • fire management
  • fire management planning
  • fire simulation
  • fuel moisture
  • fuel types
  • rate of spread
  • spot fires
  • statistical analysis
  • surface fires
  • topography
  • wind
Partner Site(s):
Record Maintained By:
Record Last Modified: November 5, 2019
FRAMES Record Number: 26065
Tall Timbers Record Number: 15699
TTRS Location Status: In-file
TTRS Abstract Status: Fair use, Okay, Reproduced by permission

This bibliographic record was either created or modified by the Tall Timbers Research Station and Land Conservancy and is provided without charge to promote research and education in Fire Ecology. The E.V. Komarek Fire Ecology Database is the intellectual property of the Tall Timbers Research Station and Land Conservancy.


A computer simulation model, FARSITE, includes existing fire behavior models for surface, crown, spotting, point-source fire acceleration, and fuel moisture. The model’s components and assumptions are documented. Simulations were run for simple conditions that illustrate the effect of individual fire behavior models on two-dimensional fire growth. This paper reports on the structure of a fire growth simulation model, FARSITE, and its performance under simplified test conditions. FARSITE incorporates existing models of surface fire, crown fire, point-source fire acceleration, spotting, and fuel moisture. This documentation of how the simulation was constructed, and how the individual fire behavior models perform, will be useful to researchers and managers who use FARSITE or are interested in fire growth simulation. The models were integrated using a vector propagation technique for fire perimeter expansion that controls for both space and time resolution of fire growth over the landscape. The model produces vector fire perimeters (polygons) at specified time intervals. The vertices of these polygons contain information on the fire’s spread rate and intensity, which are interpolated to produce raster maps of fire behavior. Because fire behavior at each vertex is assumed independent of the others, the simulation outputs illustrate the strict spatial consequences to fire behavior of incorporating the models into a two-dimensional simulation. Simplified test conditions show that surface fire growth and intensity conform to idealized patterns. Similarities also exist between simulated crown fires and observed patterns of extreme wind-driven fires. Complex patterns of fire growth and behavior result from the spatial and temporal dependencies in the model. The limitations and assumptions of this approach are discussed.

[This publication is referenced in the "Synthesis of knowledge of extreme fire behavior: volume I for fire managers" (Werth et al 2011).]

Online Link(s):
Finney, Mark A. 1998, revised 2004. FARSITE: Fire Area Simulator-model development and evaluation. Research Paper RMRS-RP-4. Ogden, UT: USDA Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station. 47 p.

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