HIGRAD/FIRETEC is a physics-based, 3-D computer code designed to simulate the constantly changing, interactive relationship between fire and its environment. It does so by representing the coupled interaction between fire, fuels, atmosphere, and topography on a landscape scale (100s or 1000s of meters).

HIGRAD is a computational fluid-dynamics model that represents airflow and its adjustments to terrain, different types of fuel (vegetation), and the fire itself.

FIRETEC combines physics models that represent combustion, heat transfer, aerodynamic drag and turbulence.


Unlike the empirically based models currently used in the field, FIRETEC simulates the dynamic processes that occur within a fire and the way those processes feed off and alter each other. FIRETEC takes the huge computational resources at the Los Alamos National Laboratory to run, so it is currently a research tool only.


FIRETEC provides a sophisticated analytical tool for fire, fuel, and land managers

  • Predicting wildfire behavior in rugged terrain under different atmospheric conditions.
  • Optimizing fuel-management strategies (thinning, controlled burns, etc.)
  • Investigating how fire interacts with various fuels
  • Determining the causes of dangerous changes in a wildfire's behavior
  • Providing realistic simulations for training inexperienced fire fighters, and
  • Complementing and enhancing existing empirical fire models to make them more reliable.


  • Has significant potential to help prevent loss of life, property, and natural resources
  • Provides critical background and predictive wildfire information needed by decision-makers
  • Can help prepare inexperienced firefighters for dangerous situations


  • R&D "100 Award" for innovation and potential service to society as one of the most technologically significant new products
  • Technology transfer for outstanding technology development award by Federal Laboratory Consortium (FLC)

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