On January 15, 2014, three experimental burns were conducted at the Camp Swift Military Installation, approximately 15 km (9.3 miles) north of Bastrop, Texas. The RMRS Fire, Fuel, & Smoke Science Program-Fire Fundamentals Team, led by Research Mechanical Engineer Bret Butler and Mechanical Engineer Dan Jimenez, participated in the interagency research project with partners from the National Institute of Standards and Technology, U.S. Forest Service, Texas Forest Service, San Diego State University, Colorado State University, and the University of Washington.
The overall goal for the project is to evaluate the Wildland-Urban Interface Fire Dynamics Simulator (WFDS), a physics-based fire behavior model, using data collected in a full-scale prescribed fire setting. Researchers also collected information on fuel break effectiveness that can be used directly by first responders and homeowners.
These research burns were conducted in homogeneous grass fuel ecosystems located in central Texas. They were selected using fuel attributes, local weather, and plot layout. Multiple sampling methodologies and technologies were utilized during the research burns to collect fire behavior data regarding the fire front as well as flanking and backing fire spread. The Fire Fundamentals Team deployed a number of fire behavior packages, thermocouple rakes, and in situ camera boxes to collect flame geometry and fire information. Multiple meteorological wind sensors were deployed both at ground level and aloft. Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), outfitted with electo-optical and modified infrared payloads, monitored fire behavior from a remote sensing platform. Data from the UAVs were processed with geo-rectification to coincide with the ground-based in situ measurements to be used in validating the WFDS program.