A numerical model for the prediction of the spread rate and intensity of forest crown fires has been developed. The model is the culmination of over 20 years of previously reported fire modelling research and experiments; however, it is only recently that it has been formulated in a closed form that permits a priori prediction of crown fire spread rates. This paper presents a brief review of the development and structure of the model followed by a discussion of recent modifications made to formulate a fully predictive model. The model is based on the assumption that radiant energy transfer dominates energy exchange between the fire and unignited fuel with provisions for convective cooling of the fuels ahead of the fire front. Model predictions are compared against measured spread rates of selected experimental fires conducted during the International Crown Fire Modelling Experiment in a Pinus banksiana-Picea mariana forest in Northwest Territories, Canada. Results of the comparison indicate that the closed form of the model accurately predicts the relative response of fire spread rate to fuel and environment variables but overpredicts the magnitude of fire spread rates.
[This publication is referenced in the "Synthesis of knowledge of extreme fire behavior: volume I for fire managers" (Werth et al 2011).]