WFORG Advisory Committee Meeting

March 7, 2003


Pine Room, Northern Forestry Centre (CFS)

Edmonton, Alberta Environment




Alex Sinclair (FERIC)

Marv Clark (FERIC) Chairperson

Warren Kehr (Weldwood)

Dave Schroeder (FERIC)

Brent Schleppe (SRD)

Don Podlubny (FMF)

Darryl Jessop (SERM)

Con Dermott (Vanderwell)

Craig  (ATCO)

Ray Ault (FERIC)

Doug Halliburton (CN Rail)

Kris Johnson (FERIC – Sask)

Marty Alexander (CFS)

Gary Dakin (FERIC)

Rory Thompson (FERIC)

Rex Hsieh (FERIC)

Dennis Driscoll (SRD)

Mark Coolen (Millar Western)



Kelly O’shea (ALPAC)

Rick Lanoville (GNWT)


Meeting began at 0840.


Marv Clark welcomed all attendees and went over the standard safety procedures. The purpose of the meeting is for progress reports on the projects and to review methodologies and new projects for the new work season. Before the progress reports are presented, introductions around the table are made, as there are a number of new members and special guests.


Marv Clark asked if there were any errors or modifications required from the Minutes of the last Advisory Committee meeting and then moved that the minutes from the last meeting be accepted. Con Dermott and Kris Johnson seconded the motion and the minutes were accepted.


Alex Sinclair provided some background of the research group to the new groups at the meeting. He stated that the SRD currently funds the program and that Saskatchewan and now the Northwest Territories have contributed as well, Saskatchewan in the form of a position and the Northwest Territories with a financial contribution. The WFORG is looking for more involvement from other provinces and territories and would like to have both the forest industry and the supply sector on board as well. The goal is to have 10-12 employees in the group.


SERM and the Saskatchewan Forestry Centre provide support in the form of $90,000 for a Tech Transfer Specialist. The NWT is now a full member as well. Alex will to travel to the Yukon for discussions on membership. The Yukon at this time is in governmental transition. The WFORG currently runs with a budget of $400,000/year. Alex will wait until things settle in the softwood debate to approach industry.




1.      Pre-preparedness Positioning System (PPS)


Judi Beck has completed the report that is in DRAFT format. It is out for external review.


Alex Sinclair asked how FERIC should publish it. Should it be restricted to SRD and the Advisory Committee or should it be widely distributed as an Advantage Report.


Con Dermott – it should be distributed widely.

Marty Alexander – it provides FERIC a profile.

Don Podlubny – people would use it at Fire Behaviour courses at the HTC.

Warren Kehr – as with other reports we have to get this one out there.


2.      NWT Community Protection and Fuel Treatment Experiments (formerly the ICFME)


This summer the WFORG is planning to work on a number of projects at the site this summer.

·        Stand thinning

·        Sprinkler work – in both forest and structure situations.

·        Fire detection (video cameras)

·        Pile burning may also take place


3.      Travel Rates of Firefighters


Work will take place on slope this summer to finish off the data collection. Will also simulate a ‘no-win’ situation where fire travels faster upslope than a firefighter can run. A videotape of the methodology will be made. This will be created to allow other crews to perform the trials as well as an education tool to illustrate the importance of escape routes and dropping tools.


4.      Infrared Technology


Objectives of this work were to test the performance, the cost effectiveness and tool development in the industry and present in a Performance Summary.




Results and Discussion

1. Hot spot GPS data collected is not being used by ground crews.

2. The systems do not provide information in a format that results in a systematic search and extinguishment of hot spots.

3. These infrared tools are being used as a broad - landscape level tool to provide information on the overall hot spot workload and hence progress being made by mop-up crews.

4. The infrared tools have the capacity to increase the productivity of mop-up operations at minimal added cost.

5. GIS tools are available to integrate the infrared hot spot information into useful map products to organize crew daily objectives.

6.     There are three GPS formats commonly used on the fire. There needs to be standardization in which format will be used and when.

7.     Although timely, helicopter GPS data in a hand written format has limited utility.

8.     The increased effectiveness and productivity of ground crews in locating and extinguishing hot spots would justify the cost of training fire fighters in GPS use and purchase of hand held GPS units.   



             The use of AWIS for hotspot needs to be used with the knowledge the equipment has limitation in detecting hot spots.

             The cost effective use of IR for hotspot detection requires integration of GPS training and equipment for ground crews and changes in how the information is provided to fire crews.


Con Dermott – Don’t have to scan whole fire.

Alex Sinclair – is ‘km’ of line the way to go? Size of scan (area)?

Ray Ault – can present in two ways; both area and distance so the user can decide.

Brent Schleppe – this will be based on objectives of the fire boss.


5.   Tanks: Equipment Evaluation: Off Highway, ground based water delivery systems.


Objective – to develop recommendations for minimum standards, and to facilitate technology transfer in tank design for equipment typically involved in forest harvesting or industry.


Ray presented the Operation Requirements that included:

Tanks, pumps, pump interchange-ability, plumbing, valves, priming, and foam capability. Ray then presented his on-line database of tanks within the province.


Don Podlubny asked about mobility issues (ie. Soft ground, etc). Ray pointed out that in the database there is a place for comments on where the system is best used.


Brent Schleppe – asked if we were looking at designs for fly-in tanks – those that can be moved by helicopter to the fire.

Warren Kehr – there are more and more contractors in the business now – they can utilise this service.

Don Podlubny – do the tanks require a Certification of Safety from FERIC?

Gary Dakin – this will show what the equipment is – not the contract specs.

Marv Clark – can you do a search on location? Rex Hsieh – you are able to.

Mark Coolen – did you include weight and ground pressure specs in database? Ray – no, but have a comment section that could include general information.

Con Dermott – would have problems keeping updated for Hire. This is now a Forest Service responsibility.

Many tanks too small – the web site is a “for example” for people to look at.


6. Top Piles


Greg Baxter went through what has been completed:



Warren – project will support newly formed Debris Task Force which includes Industry – this is a pat on the back for FERIC.

Con Dermott – Task force could give some recommendations for completing the project.


7.   Sprinklers


Gary Dakin went through the objectives of the study.


  1. Quantify the application time and water volume needed to reduce the BUI to less than 40 for various sprinkler systems and produce a table showing this.
  2. Describe the microclimate created by a sprinkler system and its influence on ignition potential and fire spread (does a humidity bubble exists and how does this relate to fire spread).
  3. Produce baseline coverage data for Rainbird sprinklers and Wajax Mark3 pumps (Alberta standard)
  4. Compare the sprinkler system coverage performance in open and closed loop systems.
  5. Develop a standard assessment process for when and where to deploy sprinkler systems.
  6. Determine if a cost effective alternative exist to replace the Mark3 pump for structure protection.
  7. Test and record the use of foam with sprinkler systems
  8. Develop guidelines for the set up, operation and maintenance of sprinkler systems on the fire line.

Con Dermott – last time the project was looking at where to put sprinklers to lower risk – NOW – are you going to look at where to put the sprinklers to reduce structure damage. Put them where they are most effective.


Marty Alexander – lower DMC and BUI to what level you want from where you are at. 40 may be good here, but not somewhere else.


8. Detection Workshop


Dave Schroeder presented some background information on the overall detection project for the new attendees. He then described the format of the workshop and who will be presenting. Information regarding the Workshop can be found on the website.



Warren Kehr – mentioned they (Weldwood) have a 40-foot tower with a generator that he could use.


Brent Schleppe – where are you testing these cameras?

Dave – testing to start at Lac La Biche and will be installed at various towers throughout the summer.


Darryl Jessop – this research is very important to Saskatchewan. One project of the Sask Centre is to do a Review OF Saskatchewan’s detection system. They are putting in 6 new towers. They want to review and study and determine what is the best ‘mix’ (aerial/towers/cameras) for them. They plan to have a Strategy Plan on the most cost-effective detection system by the fall. FERIC and Kris Johnson are involved in this review.



9. Stand Density


Dave Schroeder presented the results of the ignition study that took place at the Demo 2000 site near Kelowna in a pine stand. He found that the probability of ignition is higher in thinned stands where there is debris on the ground as compared to natural stands and thinned stands where the debris has been hauled away.


Dave then stated where his research will take place in 2003 and with whom he will be working with. This includes the Calling Lake area, Jasper NP, the town of Hinton and with Millar Western near Whitecourt.


10.  ATV Research


Following the fire history study of fires ignited by ATV’s completed in 2002, FERIC will investigate the physical process of fire ignition by ATV’s. This study done with manufacturers support (hopefully) and will compare three new and three used ATV’s. Surface ignition temperatures will be measured on the exhaust system in places hypothesised to be critical to fire starts. IR cameras will also be used to film carbon particles escaping from mufflers (another potential cause of wildfires). This work will first take place in a controlled environment to collect baseline data and then the ATV’s will be ridden in natural areas – all the while collecting temperature data.


11. Work Hours


Ray presented an overview of the work to take place for CIFFC’s Resource Management Working Group.


The maximum number of daily hours worked by forest firefighters and their shift (number of consecutive days on duty) varies between provinces. Interprovincial crew exchange during extreme fire conditions can be complicated by these differing work hour policies.

FERIC will determine the impact work hours and shift length have on

1) firefighter fatigue (and thus safety)

2) firefighter productivity

This research will identify factors and their influence on fatigue for various roles within the wildland fire operations including emergency firefighters and incident command personnel.

Marty Alexander – will this also include overhead teams and how will you rate exhaustion.

Ray – stated we are getting a panel of ‘experts’ together (academics specializing in human performance) to design a methodology for a summer project. This follows on the recently completed literature search on the subject that was assisted by FERIC’s librarian in Montreal. 60 relevant documents have been collected – mostly dealing with the transportation industry. MTDC has compiled the most relevant work on this subject area and this information is handed out to the Committee.

12. The use of heavy helicopters

This project will identify the conditions where a HRW is a cost effective alternative to fixed-wing skimmer aircraft. An evaluation of the most recent 5-year period of fire data will be used to determine if there is justification for the contract of HRW aircraft.


1. Determine if it is cost effective to pre-position a HRW in advance of anticipated fire activity.
2. Identify the conditions and situations where HRW's are most effective in controlling wildfire.

To determine if the HRW would have benefited from pre-positioning, a review of fire history of the past five years will be compiled to identify situations where water delivery was required. This analysis will concentrate on fires where aircraft were used for extended attack (2 or more days). All fires where water skimmer aircraft have been used will be examined for distance from base, distance from water source, fire size and quantity of water dropped.

13. Linear Disturbance and fire behaviour.

The influence of linear disturbances on fire behaviour is to be studied by FERIC. We will compile a database of the types and amounts of linear disturbances in the province and then will describe typical fuel loading. FERIC will also compile information on current fuel management techniques and assess these for effectiveness and cost (as well as how frequently they require treatment). FERIC will also collect anecdotal information on fire behaviour from those involved with fires where linear disturbances played a key role.

FERIC will chose a study area to try some fuel modification techniques and will report on these.

FERIC will contact both ATCO and CN Rail for information on their risk abatement activities. Other objectives are to determine the minimum frequency required to maintain linear disturbances hazard reduction once they have had a fuel modification treatment and to identify opportunities where a linear disturbance can be used as a fire control line or for community protection.

14. Fuel Management Workshop

Rory Thompson began by saying this ties in other projects currently being worked on by the WFORG. The purpose of the workshop is to bring together information on current fuel management practices in North America that may be applied in Alberta. The term fuel management includes debris disposal, linear disturbances, landscape level management techniques and the wildland/urban interface.

The workshop is to be held in the fall and will bring in speakers covering the main subject areas. Breakout sessions will be held to promote discussion.

Alex Sinclair – October 15th will come very fast.

Rory Thompson is aware of that and is working towards that timeframe.

Marv Clark – can we suggest a day?

Con Dermott – look around to see what else is going on and link with something else.

Warren Kehr – he will put this on the agenda for the Provincial Protection Advisory Meeting.

Don Podlubny – mentioned why Hinton and the Hinton Training Centre would be a good choice to host the Workshop. Close to many fuel problems; great facilities, FMF Natural disturbance work, etc..


Saskatchewan Presentation

Kris Johnson provided the group an introduction to himself and the work he will be undertaking at the Saskatchewan Forest Centre.

He mentioned his projects would centre on a detection review for Saskatchewan as well as forest and community protection research. This also includes some fire behaviour modelling.


AP – Saskatchewan to follow up with FERIC regarding ‘temporary’ bridges.


Marty Alexander – mentioned an initial activity of the Centre could be to compile all the case studies put together for the Fire Behaviour Specialist course in Hinton.  These case studies of fires in Saskatchewan could be used as information sources and to collect data on fire behaviour specific to Saskatchewan and its fuel complexes. These case studies would take little work to get into a format such as a tech transfer note.


Kris also mentioned Saskatchewan’s plan to develop a ‘Landscape Laboratory’ similar to the set up used at the NWT for the ICFME and now the Community Protection trials.


To summarise – the main points were:


FERIC’s role: Foster the adoption of improved fire management practices; Through partnerships develop, apply and validate community protection plans; Create a working laboratory to examine the effects of fire on the landscape.


Kris’s duties: One on 1 technology transfer

Workshops and conferences

Preparing technical bulletins, research reports and articles

Oversee research activities and field trials

Participate in organizations




Marty’s Top 100

As part of the WFORG’s initial objectives of providing a source of operational literature for those in the industry to use as a resource, the WFORG has developed a reference list called ‘Marty’s Top 100’ – the top 100 operational papers in the fire business. Requests were sent to many academics and operational personnel requesting their contributions for the list. At this time we have had 2 responses and these papers are included in the list.



Rex Hsieh presented the Links we currently have on our website. These links include:




Forest Industry

Government Agencies


Research Institutions



Marty Alexander – mentioned we should have ‘Fire Management Today’ as a link as they have literature back to 1936. He also stated this list should be set up so it can be manipulated for searches (USFS responsibility).


Alex Sinclair – the links and reference lists are a ‘core’ idea for the WFORG. We are a ‘hub’ and therefore these should focus attention on the Group.


Trip List


Greg Baxter

Detection Trip – September 24-26 Prince George

Alpac – October 7

Whitecourt – ANC/West Fraser November 7

High Level – January 14-16 Debris Management

Lac La Biche – February 12-14

3 Hinton FireSmart Meetings (Edson-Hinton)


Dave Schroeder

Jasper – December


Rory Thompson

Banff – February 24-27

Jasper – December


Ray Ault


Saskatchewan – October (FB Course) November, January

California – IR and Aircraft – November

Vancouver (FERIC Meeting) – December (Greg, Dave, Kris, Gary)


Gary Dakin

A number of Fire Smart meetings.


Project Progress Web Page


Rex has designed a web page that shows the progress (in percent) of the projects that the group is working on. Asked group how often they should have this progress report sent to them. Quarterly, every six weeks, monthly?


Some comments were that sometimes little research takes place over a few months and thus should be quarterly.


Other comment were that this is an operational centre where many in the field would like regular, monthly updates so they can inform staff and have personal knowledge of how the projects are progressing.


The group updates the progress reports every month on the 15th.


Feedback on Meeting


Alex Sinclair – wanted comments on how this meeting went and if there are any ways to improve or alter the format of the meetings? “What was wrong with this one?”


Warren Kehr – the group and meetings are maturing and coming together with useable operational outputs.


Marty Alexander – likes getting reports in the mail – although expensive it gives the report a better chance of being read and allows it to get by management where it sometimes does not filter down.


Both formats should be sent – electronic and written.


Group happy with SERM’s contribution to the group.


Con Dermott – very good to get Manufacturers on board – they help to get ‘natural’ solutions to problems.

Alex Sinclair – used the scale example where Manufacturers got onboard and reacted quickly – implementing change before reports got out.


Don Podlubny – suggested getting other industries with a ‘fire’ connection to the next meeting.


Next Meeting


September 29th, 2003. Edmonton. CFS NoFC Pine Room.


1153 meeting adjourned for lunch and Advisory Committee Picture.











Copyright © 2004, Wildland Fire Operations Research Group (WFORG), FERIC. For comments: web administrator