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A fire severity mapping system for real time fire management application and long-term planning.

FIRESEV (FIRE SEVerity Mapping Tools) is a comprehensive set of tools and protocols to deliver, create, and evaluate fire severity maps for all phases of fire management. It can be used to create real-time fire severity maps on its own or along with current satellite imagery products to enhance data analysis of fire effects. The set of tools and protocols for FIRESEV includes: 1) a Severe Fire Potential Map based on statistical modeling with satellite-derived observations of severity from past fires, 2) a mapping algorithm that integrates simulation modeling into the Wildland Fire Assessment Tool, 3) research papers, and 4) other helpful information to improve descriptions, interpretations, and mapping of fire severity.
The primary tools developed as part of FIRESEV can be downloaded from the Fire Research and Management Exchange System (FRAMES) web site. The Severe Fire Potential Map (SFPM) is available at the FRAMES FIRESEV page. It covers all lands in the western conterminous U.S., and can be used by fire managers to plan for future wildfires or manage wildfires in real time. The mapping algorithm within the Wildland Fire Assessment Tool (WFAT) is used for fuel treatment planning to predict potential fire effects under prescribed fire weather conditions. With WFAT, fire severity can be mapped explicitly from fire effects simulation models (i.e., FOFEM, Consume, etc.) for real-time wildfire applications and planning.

severity_photoThe FIRESEV project has also produced a suite of research studies, synthesis papers, and popular articles that are designed to expand managers’ knowledge and provide guidelines on how to measure, interpret, and apply fire severity in fire management. The final report on FIRESEV to the Joint Fire Sciences program (study JFSP-09-1-07-4) is available for review. Links to each tool, protocol, and products are found within the final report. A fact sheet with an overview of the project and its products is also available.


Robert E. Keane, Research Ecologist

Greg Dillon, Spatial Fire Analyst; Pamela Sikkink, Research Ecologist; Eva Karau, Ecologist; Robin Silverstein, Ecologist; Zach Holden, Scientist
Penelope Morgan, University of Idaho; Stacy Drury, Senior Fire Ecologist, Sonoma Tecnology, Inc; Jason Herynk, Systems for Environmental Management


The primary objective of this project was to create a suite of tools and information to generate and interpret fire severity maps for real time, short- and long-term fire management applications. This fire severity mapping system integrates with currently available severity mapping products (e.g., BARC, MTBS) to provide fire management with a suite of spatial severity data products when they are needed. We developed this system for the western United States, but it is designed so that it could easily be expanded across all 50 states sometime in the future when input data are available.


  • A map of the potential for severe fire was created for the conterminous western U.S. at 30x30 m spatial resolution
  • A synthesis paper was completed discussing the problems involved in measuring, describing, and quantifying fire severity
  • An objective method of quantifying fire severity from fire effects was created using nine unique classes
  • A method was devised to improve satellite imagery assessments of burn severity
  • Several classifications of fire severity were compared across the western United States to determine commonalities and differences
  • A comprehensive database of severity field assessments across the western United States was created
  • A digital tree list was created to link LANDFIRE map products to estimates of tree mortality and fire severity

Initiated spring 2009; completed January, 2013


jfsp-logoJoint Fire Sciences Program Project # 09-1-07-4
NIFFT, Fire & Aviation Management Washington Office



Dillon, G. K., Z. A. Holden, P. Morgan, M. A. Crimmins, E. K. Heyerdahl, and C. H. Luce. 2011a. Both topography and climate affected forest and woodland burn severity in two regions of the western US, 1984 to 2006. Ecosphere 2(12)1-15:art130.

Dillon, G.K. P. Morgan, Z. Holden. 2011b. Mapping the potential for high severity wildfire in the western United States. Fire Management Today 71(2):25-30.

Drury, Stacy A.; Herynk, Jason M. 2011. The national tree-list layer. Gen. Tech. Rep. RMRS-GTR-254. Fort Collins, CO: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station. 26 p.

FRAMES: FIRESEV Home. Homepage of the FIRESEV Severe Fire Potential Map, USDA Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station; University of Idaho. [Online] [2013, January 4].

Keane, R.E., Penny Morgan, Greg Dillon, Eva Karau, Pam Sikkink, Robin Silverstein. 2013 [in prep]. The FIRESEV field database. RMRS data archive.When available, it will be located at http://www.fs.fed.us/rm/data_archive/dataaccess/index.shtml.

Sikkink, Pamela G; Keane, Robert E. 2012. Predicting fire severity using surface fuels and moisture. Res. Paper. RMRS-RP-96. Fort Collins, CO: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station. 54 p.

WFAT Modification. 2011. Inclusion of Fire Severity in the Wildland Fire Assessment Tool. WFAT, Webinar