The International Crown Fire Modelling Experiment (ICFME) was a major project of Canadian Forest Service fire research carried out in collaboration with the Government of the Northwest Territories’ Forest Management Division near the community of Fort Providence from 1995-2001. The initial focus of ICFME was on the testing and calibration of a physically-based model for predicting crown fire behavior. However, the project quickly expanded to accommodate a multitude of other research objectives.
The 22nd Tall Timbers Fire Ecology Conference featured a special session on selected aspects of the wildland fire research carried out during the various phases of ICFME. This presentation constitutes an introductory overview and an up-to-date summary on ICFME.
The ICFME site was selected in 1994 and most of the plot set-up and preburn fuel sampling was completed in 1995-96. Eighteen experimental crown fires were successfully carried out during a roughly three-week period during June-July of each year from 1997-2000 in what eventually amounted to four separate phases: 1997 – 3 fires; 1998 – 2 fires; 1999 – 6 fires; and 2000 – 7 fires. An attempt was made to burn one remaining plot in June 2001 in what amounted to the fifth and final phase of ICFME.
ICFME provided a unique opportunity to bring together a diverse group of fire research scientists and managers from around the world to study crown fire behavior and impacts in a highly-integrated, interdisciplinary field setting. Over 100 people participated in ICFME for varying lengths of time over seven summers from more than 30 organizations involving 14 countries.
The ICFME fires represent the most complex, heavily instrumented and documented experimental crown fires undertaken anywhere in the world to date. New instrumentation used during the ICFME fires has provided valuable new data sets and insights into the nature and characteristics of crown fires (e.g., “in-fire” video footage) needed by both researchers and managers alike for use in the physical modelling of crown fires and in devising strategies to protect communities from wildfire and ensuring the safety of wildland firefighters. The results from ICFME will contribute to a greater understanding of the physical mechanisms and ecological consequences associated with crown fires, translating into improved forest fire management practices in the future.