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Type: Report
Author(s): Patricia L. Andrews
Publication Date: 2018

The Rothermel surface fire spread model, with some adjustments by Frank A. Albini in 1976, has been used in fire and fuels management systems since 1972. It is generally used with other models including fireline intensity and flame length. Fuel models are often used to define fuel input parameters. Dynamic fuel models use equations for live fuel curing. Models have been developed for the effect of cross-slope wind and for fire spread in directions other than head fire. Equations for the Rothermel model and associated models are presented for easy reference. The influence of input variables on results is examined. While the spread model is used in the U.S. National Fire Danger Rating System (NFDRS), there are significant differences. The NFDRS equations and fuel models are given. This paper is intended to serve as a reference for those interested in the foundation of wildland fire modeling. System developers will benefit from equations from various sources being in one document. Developers of custom fuel models will find information on the impact of fuel parameters on rate of spread calculations.

Online Links
Citation: Andrews, Patricia L. 2018. The Rothermel surface fire spread model and associated developments: a comprehensive explanation. General Technical Report RMRS-GTR-371. Fort Collins, CO: USDA Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station. 121 p.

Cataloging Information

Alaska    California    Eastern    Great Basin    Hawaii    Northern Rockies    Northwest    Rocky Mountain    Southern    Southwest    National
  • fire danger rating
  • fire spread
  • flame length
  • Rothermel model
  • wildfire
  • wildland fire
Record Last Modified:
Record Maintained By: FRAMES Staff (
FRAMES Record Number: 26103