South Dakota State Fire Meteorologist Darren Clabo of the School of Mines and Technology is collaborating with NASA Develop, the Bureau of Indian Affairs, NOAA and the US Army Corps of Engineers to make firefighting more effective with the use of the Fire Risk Estimation (FiRE)Tool.
The tool is designed to give land and fire managers a more detailed looks at fire potential across the Missouri River basin. The FiRE tool, expected to be ready by late summer this year, uses satellite and meteorological data to create a detailed understanding of fire danger.
The initial attack phase of any wildfire is the most important time to gain control. If fire managers know where the danger is increasing before a fire breaks out, they can position resources accordingly. Previous tools only assessed fire danger on a wider scale, such as across forest districts or a county. The FiRE tool can narrow the details onto a 10-kilometer grid scale.
Clabo says the FiRE tool combines satellite data and meteorological data for an output not available in current fire danger assessments. The tool analyzes drought conditions, high resolution fuel conditions and precipitation conditions to produce a fire danger assessment map that land managers and firefighters can monitor daily.
“One of the current problems across the Great Plains is we don’t have very many weather stations. So, those estimated conditions can be inaccurate and we might not know where the most critical fire weather conditions exist,” says Clabo.