This is an attempt to characterize forest fire fuels in a new way. The immediate purpose is to provide means for recognizing and tentatively evaluating, in the field, the fire spread potential and the crowning potential of fuels on the basis of readily observed characteristics without need for prior technical knowledge of vegetation or experience with fire. The medium employed is the dichotomous key, familiar to natural scientists; this is supplemented by a vocabulary of newly defined terms for describing fuel characteristics. The ultimate goal is to establish the framework for a permanent, universal fuel appraisal system.
[This publication is referenced in the "Synthesis of knowledge of extreme fire behavior: volume I for fire managers" (Werth et al 2011).]