On Looking Back in Time at Wildfire Behavior Research in Western & Northern Canada: A Personal Perspective
Media Type: Presentation
Host Agency:
  • Canadian Forest Service, Northern Forestry Centre
Date: May 27, 2021

Cataloging Information

  • Alberta
  • Big Fish Lake Experimental Burning Project
  • black spruce
  • boreal forest
  • Burn-P3
  • Canada
  • crown fire
  • CWFIS - Canadian Wildland Fire Information System
  • FBP - CFFDRS Fire Behavior Prediction System
  • ICFME - International Crown Fire Modeling Experiment
  • jack pine
  • lichen
  • NWT - Northwest Territories
  • Picea mariana
  • Pinus banksiana
  • Porter Lake
  • surface fire
Partner Site(s):
Record Maintained By:
Record Last Modified: May 18, 2022
FRAMES Record Number: 65865


During 2021 the Canadian Forest Service celebrated the 50th anniversary of the operation of the Northern Forestry Centre (NoFC) in Edmonton, Alberta. As part of the celebration, NoFC retirees volunteered to make virtual presentations (roughly an hour in duration, giving time for Q&A) over the course of 2021 on various topics related to the general theme of "Reflections from Retirees: Linking the Past to the Present." The objective of these events was "To provide an historical context of NoFC and research undertaken in the early days, the drivers and state of information needed at the time, and how various subject fields and technological advances have evolved into the research being undertaken today."

Marty Alexander coordinated three field-based experimental burning projects carried in various different conifer forest fuel complexes in the Northwest Territories (Porter Lake and International Crown Fire Modelling Experiment) and Alberta (Big Fish Lake) over the span of 20 years from 1982 to 2001.

The data generated during the experimental burning projects formed, in part, the empirical basis for the national Canadian Forest Fire Behavior Prediction System that is in turn used operationally by Canadian fire management agencies for pre-suppression and suppression planning purposes and by fire researchers in the development of decision support systems (e.g., Canadian Wildland Fire Information System, Burn–P3). Interestingly enough, the field data is still being utilized in various fire behavior modelling studies.

Various films and videos dealing with the three experimental burning projects have also been posted on YouTube (see the Related Records below).

Alexander, Martin E. 2021. Wildfire behavior research in western and northern Canada. Northern Forestry Centre (NoFC) 50th Anniversary Event - Reflections from Retirees: Linking the Past to the Present, 27 May 2021.
Recording Length: 0:57:07
Online Link(s):
Link to this recording (Streaming; YouTube)