Presented by Melanie Wheatley, PhD Candidate, University of Toronto
Evaluating the effectiveness of airtanker operations typically revolves around assessing their impact on fire behaviour, primary determined by the relationship between the amount of suppression applied and the associated impact on fireline intensity. The use of skimmer airtankers, such as the Canadair CL-415 airtanker, are common on landscapes with an abundance of waterbodies. This presentation explores the use of 15 years of historical airtanker mission data to examine fire suppression effectiveness at landscape and fireline scales. At the landscape scale, I outline models which assess the probability of suppression success for those fires that receive airtanker support. At the fireline scale, I characterize the impact of water drops from a CL-415 airtanker on spreading wildfires and show that the current fire intensity and resource effectiveness heuristics used across Canada may be in need of modification. The findings outlined in this presentation provide an evidence-based foundation for understanding suppression effectiveness in the boreal forest which will enhance fire manager’s ability to make informed decisions regarding fire suppression resource use and allocation.