Coarse woody debris serves many functions in forest ecosystem processes and has important implications for fire management as it affects air quality, soil heating and carbon budgets when it combusts. There is relatively little research evaluating the physical properties relating to the combustion of this coarse woody debris with even less specifically addressing decomposition, a condition that eventually affects all debris. We review studies evaluating the combustion and consumption of coarse woody debris in the field and under controlled conditions. The thermal properties affected by decomposition are also reviewed, as are current modelling tools to represent their combustion. Management implications and suggestions for future research are then presented.