BehavePlus Fire Modeling System

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BehavePlus v6 Beta has been released!

BehavePlus version 6 Beta is available for download, testing, and use. The program can be downloaded from the Software / Manuals page. There were many changes to the program, which are outlined in the Change Log [PDF]. One of the biggest changes is to calculating surface fire behavior (SURFACE). Lessons have been created to guide you through the changes, and they can be downloaded as a zip file.

Welcome to the BehavePlus web pages!

In 2014, information on BehavePlus was transferred from to this web page. If you are looking for information on FlamMap, FARSITE, or FireFamilyPlus, please visit The BehavePlus fire modeling system is managed by the U.S. Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire, Fuel, and Smoke Science Program (FFS) in Missoula, Montana. If you have any questions or comments, please contact Faith Ann Heinsch.

We offer a subscription to webmail for all of the fire behavior systems managed by FFS. To subscribe, click on the Subscribe link above.


The BehavePlus fire modeling system is a Windows® based computer program that can be used for any fire management application that involves modeling fire behavior and some fire effects. The system is composed of a collection of mathematical models that describe fire behavior and the fire environment. The program simulates rate of fire spread, spotting distance, scorch height, tree mortality, fuel moisture, wind adjustment factor, as well as other variables; so it is used to predict fire behavior in multiple situations. More information can be found in the following paper:

Andrews, Patricia L. 2014. Current status and future needs of the BehavePlus Fire Modeling System. International Journal of Wildland Fire 23(1):21-33.

Successful application of BehavePlus depends upon knowledgeable user decisions. To effectively use BehavePlus in fire modeling, users must have enough fire experience and training in fire behavior models to recognize whether input values are appropriate, outputs are reasonable, and which adjustments are needed to correctly model the fire behavior.

Read more about BehavePlus applications and development history

Some applications include:

  • Predicting the behavior of an ongoing fire. Historically, this was the original use for Behave as described by Rothermel (1983) in "How to Predict the Spread and Intensity of Forest and Range Fires." Today, the modern version of Behave, BehavePlus Version 6.0.0 Beta, is even more powerful for predicting fire behavior during wildfires and prescribed fires in the United States and other countries because of its expanded features and capabilities.
  • Planning fire treatments. Contingency planning depends on a number of fire variables, such as spotting distance, probability of ignition, spot fire growth, and probability of containment. All of these are modeled within BehavePlus to facilitate planning of prescribed fires for ecological restoration or fuel reduction programs.
  • Assessing fuel hazard. BehavePlus allows for easy manipulation of fuel moistures and wind conditions. Variations in these factors affect fire behavior in surface and crown fuels so understanding the sensitivity of fuels to moisture and wind is essential to assessing whether fuel has the potential to burn or whether planned treatments may be dangerous to fire fighters or the public.
  • Understanding fire behavior. Modeling systems are excellent sources for educating and training personnel on the subtleties of fire behavior. The complex interactions among fire, fuel, moisture, and wind can be easily explored in BehavePlus by changing input variables and fuel conditions for each model run. This makes BehavePlus well suited to learning about fire behavior, while preparing personnel to better understand and apply outputs from spatial fire behavior modeling systems based on similar equations.

BehavePlus development history:

The DOS BEHAVE fire behavior prediction and fuel modeling system was first available to the field in 1984. JFSP funded a much-needed redesign and update to the BehavePlus fire modeling system version 1.0 in 2002. Each version update has offered additional features and fire modeling capabilities. Version 2 was released in 2003, Version 3 in 2005, Version 4 in 2008, Version 5 in 2009, and Version 6 in 2018. The Fire Characteristics Chart was released in 2011 and updated in 2013. A description of changes from the old BEHAVE system through each version of BehavePlus is available as a PDF.

Fire modeling capabilities:

Many fire models are available, organized according to modules. Following is a summary of some of the fire modeling capabilities in BehavePlus, by module.

  • SURFACE module
    o Surface fire behavior, including rate of spread and flame length
    o Includes the standard fuel models (13 + 40)
    o Allows for custom fuel model development and use
    o Special case fuel models including palmetto-gallberry, western aspen, and chaparral
  • CROWN module
    o Crown fire behavior, including rate of spread and flame length
    o Transition from surface to crown fire
    o Fire type - surface, torching, conditional crown, crowning
    o Flame length and intensity
  • SIZE module
    o Assumes a point source fire with steady-state spread
    o Perimeter
    o Shape (length-to-width ratio)
    o Area
  • CONTAIN module
    o Fire containment of a point source fire
    o Containment success based on available resources (single or multiple)
    o Final size, fireline constructed
  • SPOT module
    o Maximum spotting distance
    o Torching trees
    o Active crown fire
    o Burning pile
    o Wind-driven surface fire
  • SCORCH module
    o Crown scorch height from surface fire flame length and flame tilt
  • MORTALITY module
    o Tree mortality
    o Probability of mortality from crown scorch
  • IGNITE module
    o Probability of ignition from a firebrand
    o Probability of ignition from lightning
  • Fire Characteristics Chart
    o Graphical representation of modeled or observed fire behavior for
       - Surface Fire Behavior
       - Crown Fire Behavior
       - Fire Danger Rating

BehavePlus Team

Technical Support

Agency Staff

Faith Ann Heinsch – Development Lead
USDA Forest Service contractor
S&K Global Solutions
Phone: (406) 829-7342

Pat Andrews – Program Manager
USDA Forest Service (retired)

Support Staff

Collin Bevins
Systems for Environmental Management

Deb Tirmenstein
RTL Networks

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