Predicting fire behavior in the black spruce-lichen woodland fuel type of western and northern Canada
Document Type: Poster
Author(s): Martin E. Alexander; Rick A. Lanoville
Publication Year: 1989

Cataloging Information

  • black spruce-lichen woodland
  • Canada
  • fire behavior prediction
  • fire management
  • Northwest Territories
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Record Maintained By:
Record Last Modified: November 7, 2019
FRAMES Record Number: 9640


The behavior of free-burning forest fires is controlled by the fire environment (i.e., the surrounding conditions, influences, and modifying forces of topography, fuels, and weather). Successful fire management depends very heavily upon, among other things, an intimate knowledge of fire behavior (Underwood 1985). Although there are fundamental mechanisms involved in fire behavior, each area has a unique fire environment. For example, under certain weather conditions the black spruce-lichen woodland forests of Canada's western and northern subarctic zones are prone to the occurrence of large, high-intensity crowning wildfires exhibiting very rapid spread rates that are beyond our ability to effect control. This poster presents a guide for predicting fire behavior in the black spruce-lichen woodland fuel type for use by northern fire managers. It is based largely on the results of an experimental burning project conducted at Porter Lake in the Caribou Range of the south-central Northwest Territories during the 1982 fire season by territorial fire management staff and Forestry Canada fire research personnel (Alexander et al. 1989). A representative photo of each experimental fire and information on the attendant environmental conditions and associated fire behavior characteristics are also presented (Plates 1 to 7). The guide provides assistance in determining the probable behavior of wildfires occurring in the black spruce-lichen woodland fuel type. Five basic characteristics of fire behavior are considered: type of fire, head fire rate of spread, frontal fire intensity, fire area, fire perimeter length. Although the guide is specific to the black spruce-lichen woodland fuel type, it does nonetheless demonstrate many of the basic principles of predicting wildfire behavior.

[This publication is referenced in the "Synthesis of knowledge of extreme fire behavior: volume I for fire managers" (Werth et al 2011).]

Online Link(s):
Link to this document (1.3 MB; pdf)
Alexander, M. E.; Lanoville, R. A. 1989. Predicting fire behavior in the black spruce-lichen woodland fuel type of western and northern Canada - poster. Edmonton, AB & Fort Smith, NT: Forestry Canada, Northern Forestry Center, & Government of the Northwest Territories, Department of Renewable Resources, Territorial Forest Fire Center. 16 p.