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FuelCalc - Canopy fuel calculator and model

FuelCalc is a desktop software application for determining changes in surface and crown fuel loading after thinning, pruning, piling and/or prescribed fire.

Ground, surface, and canopy fuel characteristics serve as essential inputs to computer models of fire behavior and fire effects. FuelCalc is a software system for assisting local and regional fuel management planners and related resource specialists (silviculturists, for example) in designing and implementing fuel treatments in forest stands. FuelCalc is a fuel characteristics simulation software program that calculates initial canopy fuel characteristics and quickly simulates the effects of thinning, pruning, piling and broadcast burning on ground, surface and canopy fuel characteristics. Consequently, FuelCalc is useful for planning fuel treatments, as well as for estimating the effects of wildfire on surface and canopy fuel characteristics. FuelCalc works by simulating changes in ground, surface, piled, and canopy fuel loads by size class as fuel treatments add to, or subtract from, the load in each class. Input files can be either created in the monitoring software tool FFI (FEAT/FIREMON Integrated; https://www.frames.gov/partner-sites/ffi/ffi-home) or by manually creating an input file in FuelCalc’s standard format.

FuelCalc was developed for fire planners to:

  • Calculate canopy fuel characteristics from an existing treelist; and
  • Simulate the effects of fuel treatments and fire on ground (duff and other below surface fuel), surface, and canopy fuels.

Before using FuelCalc, you should have a working knowledge of fuel characteristics, fuel treatments, and fire behavior. Because FuelCalc uses input files from FFI, some knowledge of the means by which FFI generates output files will be useful. Many FuelCalc processes are based on the First Order Fire Effects Model (FOFEM) consequently, familiarity with FOFEM will increase the understanding of FuelCalc outputs. Likewise, familiarity with the BehavePlus fire behavior prediction system may increase an understanding of the algorithms used for calculating FuelCalc output.

Image: FuelCalc screenshot

FuelCalc output screenshot

Modified: Aug 03, 2020

Select Publications & Products

Reinhardt, E., D. Lutes, and J. Scott. 2006. FuelCalc: A method for estimating fuel characteristics. Pages 273-287 in Fuels Management—How to Measure Success. I U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station., Portland, OR.