An overview of the Fuel Characteristic Classification System - quantifying, classifying, and creating fuelbeds for resource planning
Document Type: Journal Article
Author(s): Roger D. Ottmar; David V. Sandberg; Cynthia L. Riccardi; Susan J. Prichard
Publication Year: 2007

Cataloging Information

  • air quality
  • Artemisia spp.
  • C - carbon
  • coniferous forests
  • crown fires
  • duff
  • FCCS - Fuel Characteristic Classification System
  • FERA - Fire and Environmental Research Applications Team
  • fire hazard
  • fire management
  • fire regimes
  • fire suppression
  • flaming combustion
  • fuel management
  • fuel types
  • fuelbeds
  • Juniperus occidentalis
  • land management
  • lichens
  • litter
  • mosses
  • national forests
  • overstory
  • Pinus contorta
  • Pinus ponderosa
  • ponderosa pine
  • residual combustion
  • shrubs
  • smoldering combustion
  • surface fire behavior
  • surface fires
  • wildfires
  • woody plants
Record Maintained By:
Record Last Modified: June 1, 2018
FRAMES Record Number: 4831
Tall Timbers Record Number: 22146
TTRS Location Status: In-file
TTRS Call Number: Journals-C
TTRS Abstract Status: Okay, Fair use, 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.


We present an overview of the Fuel Characteristic Classification System (FCCS), a tool that enables land managers, regulators, and scientists to create and catalogue fuelbeds and to classify those fuelbeds for their capacity to support fire and consume fuels. The fuelbed characteristics and fire classification from this tool will provide inputs for current and future sophisticated models for the quantification of fire behavior, fire effects, and carbon accounting and enable assessment of fuel treatment effectiveness. The system was designed from requirements provided by land managers, scientists, and policy makers gathered through six regional workshops. The FCCS contains a set of fuelbeds representing the United States, which were compiled from scientific literature, fuels photo series, fuels data sets, and expert opinion. The system enables modification and enhancement of these fuelbeds to represent a particular scale of interest. The FCCS then reports assigned and calculated fuel characteristics for each existing fuelbed stratum including the canopy, shrubs, nonwoody, woody, litter-lichen-moss, and duff. Finally, the system classifies each fuelbed by calculating fire potentials that provide an index of the intrinsic capacity of each fuelbed to support surface fire behavior, support crown fire, and provide fuels for flaming, smoldering, and residual consumption. The FCCS outputs are being used in a national wildland fire emissions inventory and in the development of fuelbed, fire hazard, and treatment effectiveness maps on several national forests. Although the FCCS was built for the United States, the conceptual framework is applicable worldwide.

Online Link(s):
Ottmar, Roger D.; Sandberg, David V.; Riccardi, Cynthia L.; Prichard, Susan J. 2007. An overview of the Fuel Characteristic Classification System - quantifying, classifying, and creating fuelbeds for resource planning. Canadian Journal of Forest Research 37(12):2383-2393.