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.