Minutes of the 2005 WFORG

Fall Advisory Meeting


In attendance:


Alex Sinclair

Marv Clark

Ray Ault

Greg Baxter

Dave Schroeder

Rex Hsieh

Kris Johnson

Marty Alexander

Rory Thompson

Gary Dakin

Wally McCulloch

Dave Patterson



Wally Born (A SRD)

Jeff Berry (BCFS)

Pete Bothwell (CFS)

Dan Boyd (YT)

Colin Cameron (Fire-Trol)

Mark Campell (Sask Env)

Susan Corey            (GNWT)

Con Dermott (Vanderwell)

Terry Dixon (Flying Tankers)

Jim Dunlop

Chuck George

Lou Gildermeister (Astaris)

Dennis Graham (Conair)

Joe Grigel (Fire-Trol)

Lorne Harris (YT)

Doug Higgins (Wildfire Group)

Mark Heathcott (Parks Canada)

Rob Hyslop (RGH Pacific)

Rick Just (Thermo-Gel)

Warren Kehr (West Fraser)

Terry Kennedy (Fire-Trol)

Vince Eggleston (Alpac)

Rick Lannoville

Larry Pahl

Don Podlubny (Model Forest)

Jacob Rebel (Vanguard Plastics)

Brent Schleppe (A SRD)

Jay Simmons (Thermo Tech.)

Bob Smart (Vanguard Plastics)

Ted Szabo (Alb Innovation)

Kris VanderBurg (Atco)



Introductions and building overview at 0830. Voting procedure for the new projects explained.


  1. Review of Saskatchewan Forest Centre Community Threat Assessment (Kris Johnson)


Partnership between FERIC, Saskatchewan Forest Centre and the Provincial government to develop a provincial standard for the ordinal ranking of communities at risk to wildfire and identify hazard abatement opportunities to initiate a coordinated a fuel management program. Proceeded to present an example using the Pinehouse and a Seven Step methodology.


Q) any Prevention work taking place? A) Is in the works

Q) Are Insurance Companies involved? A) Fire is not a big issue to them as of now


  1. Linear Disturbance (Greg Baxter)


There are four components to this study. An overview of the work taking place in 2005 was presented.


Q) Any work with willows or shrubs? A) have data on some, but not included in burning trials yet. Will find some areas where burns may occur.


  1. Thinning and Fuel Management (Dave Schroeder and Marty Alexander)


Presented thinning work taking place in three locations: Hoodoo Creek (Yoho), NWT and Meadowland Creek (Willmore Park).


Fuel Treatment Plots (NWT) – insight into three areas: role of bark flakes in candling, forest floor removal of fuels and changes in micro-climate from fuel treatments. Have 18 plots for thinning and testing various treatments. Approximately half the plots are ready for burning.


  1. Cost and Benefits of debris management (Greg Baxter)


This project carries on from the Debris Management project to identify the cost and benefits of various debris management treatments to industry and the province. Seven treatments are analysed for their cost and benefits for: wildfire potential, wildlife suitability, regeneration potential and overall financial costs of the treatments. Wildfire potential and wildlife suitability have been completed using questionnaires sent to experts. Responses show that the best treatments in terms of wildfire potential (pile and burn) are the least suitable for the wildlife. The other two components of the study may show a mid-range treatment may be the best in terms of overall costs and benefits.


Comment – this may lead to a new look at burning.


  1. Cost of Fuel Treatments (Rory Thompson)


Fuel management is one of the methods used to help protect communities from wildfire. Need to determine the costs of the various treatments. Used the approach of designing data sheets containing information on projects that have already taken place. Data sheets contain information on when project took place, the method used, costs/ha of the treatments and the objectives of the treatment.


  1. Smoke Detection (Dave Schroeder)


A summary of the work that occurred in 2005 was presented.


Work in 2006 will include:


Q) Will the 5 towers work together or be in separate locations. A) could have a camera anywhere with satellite communications.

Q) what is the range of the camera? A) will use the smoke generator to test next year.


  1. Infrared Scanning (Ray Ault)


The objective for 2005 was to develop an evaluation grid and evaluate a number of high-elevation scanning companies during the spring. Three companies were evaluated this season.


A second objective was to develop an assessment method to test hand-held scanners used for pile and hold-over fires. Evaluated on ease of use and range of use.


In 2006 a report on the high altitude methodology will be produced and the development of an evaluation method for helicopter scanning will be undertaken.


Q) did you look at an assessment through canopy cover? A) the initial tests took place in the open. Will eventually include terrain, canopy cover and fuel types.


  1. Fuel Mixtures for aerial torch operations (Rory Thompson)


Problem arose because Sure-Fire Gel and Jet-A did not mix properly. Tested a number of other fuels to find a suitable mix.


Have tested: aviation gas, regular gas and high-test. Found No-Go’s to be: diesel, kerosene, Jet A and ethanol gas.


Looking for right thickness, low flash point, easy mixer (don’t use winter Jet A). Report is completed and out for review at this time.


Q) when is report out. A) external review taking place. When these are back and edits made it will be released.

Q) Just Petro-gel tested, not Sure-Fire. A) Sure-fire reacts differently.


Follow up with Sure-Fire.


  1. Terra Torch Evaluation (Wally McCulloch)


Fire-Trol supplied a Terra Torch for evaluation as a tool for underburning operations and other ignitions in the NWT. Used regular gas and Petrol Gel as the gelling agent.


Was tested for underburning but it was found to produce too much heat too quickly for this purpose in the fire weather conditions when tested. This resulted in a fire that was too intense.


Torch performed very well for igniting larger plots where crown fire was desired and for burning piles of debris.


Q) What was the set-up time? A) did not take long to set up once the best method was determined.

Q) for underburning – could the indices have been too high? Maybe good at lower values? A) with lower indices it may work

Q) can it be used in sub-zero temperatures? A) If mixed properly there should be no problems.


  1. Log Deck Protection (Dave Schroeder)


Project broken down into three sections: a log deck protection workshop and demonstration(s), chemical affect on pulping process and use of chemicals/sprinklers to protect decks. The last two were exploratory at this time.


The workshop at Slave Lake (Vanderwells) brought together a number of vendors and industry personnel and showed a number of products that may have potential uses – this included remote controlled equipment, water delivery, and discussion on future needs and developments.


Work in the NWT included testing gel on mini-decks and subjecting them to fire. Results were promising as gel held for up to two hours before allowing the wood to be consumed.


Q) No pulping tests done yet? A) Haven’t moved that far yet – want to test effectiveness first and proceed if products do work.

Q) Did you document application rates? A) There will be more rigorous testing on this next year – this was exploratory work at this stage.

Q) Did you look at the clean-up of gels? A) This was not addressed at this stage.

Q) Airtankers at this stage are trying to buy time to save some wood. A) we just hand-applied the products – may look at aerial application in the future.


The gel was promising and at this time we are just scraping the surface of this project.


Other techniques were also presented: deck storage using compacted snow and an insulation cap extends the freshness of the logs.


  1. Sprinkler Update (Ray Ault)


Objective of this research is to demonstrate the effectiveness of low volume, low pressure sprinkler systems – systems that can be purchased at a local hardware store.


Sprinkler systems tested in fire situations at Hoodoo Creek (Yoho NP), Fort Providence NWT and will be set-up at Meadowland Creek in the Willmore.


Yoho – not a true test – water was pplied, but fire did not reach area until hours later.


Plot S5 (NWT) – water applied 5 minutes before intense crown fire made a direct hit – building survived. (Gelled house burned down).


Plot S4 (NWT) – sprinkler house did not receive a true test – fire skirted house. Gelled house in same plot took more fire and survived fire.


Meadowland Creek – two houses erected and set for sprinklers. Now requires appropriate burning weather.


  1. S-64 Skycrane (Rory Thompson)


The project evaluated the use of  the S-64 on extended attack. The project looked at a number of other aircraft as well. The report is completed and under going an internal review.


  1. FireSmart and the AAC (Rory Thompson)


How much could FireSmart activities affect the AAC by Forest Management Units or Forest Management Agreement Areas? Twelve communities were selected for study in the province based on their proximity to the Green Zone.




·        Convert to aspen

·        Conifer to mixwood

·        Thin stands

·        Strategically harvest blocks


Apply model to managed stands and check against the AAC.


  1. Fuel Sampling Handbook (Marty Alexander)


Approach – a few intensively sampled plots preferable to an extensive grid. Two plots per fuel stratum. Plots located where they can be observed while burning.


Four 25 m lines (North,East,West,South)

25 organic layer measurements

48 tree measurements

12, 2m radius fixed plots for understory trees

12 1m radius plots for medium-tall shrubs

12 relative-estimate 1 m quadrats for small shrubs and herbaceous veg

12 1x1 m quadrats for % burnable ground cover


Q) What about time and accuracy? A) it is quicker and less of a headache

Q) Is electronic collection possible? A) Easily adaptable to hand held data loggers.


  1. Air Operations (Wally McCulloch)


802 Drop Tests: evaluated the drops from two 802’s – one with floats and the other on wheels. Test carried out in August. Looked at coverage pattern for the  two aircraft. Two drops in timber and two in the open. Drops with floats were shorter and thinner (ground coverage). Will test at different coverage levels.


Martin Mars testing: June 13-15 Campbell River.

Gel Drop Evaluations – Landbased aircraft.


Future work – travel to California with BCFS to look at CDF use of gels from land based aircraft. Develop operational guidelines for evaluation of gels and similar products.  Ground evaluation of effect of gel on fire.


Q) Can you determine optimum coverage levels? A) influenced by payload and fuel – may find optimum coverage for various distances.


  1. ATV – Exhaust Insulation system (Kevin Palmu and Greg Baxter)


FERIC was approached by an inventor/designer who had made an insulated cover for the exhaust system. SRD and FERIC decided to test the system. An hour ride with two similar ATV’s – one with the insulation system and the other without, was made. Temperature data shows the insulation system kept surface temperatures below 200oC throughout the ride, whereas the stock ATV had surface temperatures well above this threshold.


Comment – more tests should be performed.

Comment – engine wear over the long term needs to be monitored with insulation system.


  1. Forest fires and power transmission (Stephen Paskaluk U of A)


A literature review was undertaken by Stephen P from the Mechanical Engineering Dept. at the U of A looking at how power lines are impacted by forest fires and what potential solutions have been investigated. At this time towers not designed with fire in mind and more aluminum alloy towers are being used – which can suffer more damage than steel towers.


Recommendations: material analysis required; case studies of past failures; look at characteristics of current transmission lines.


Comment – what can be done before a fire occurs to protect a line? (BC is interested).


  1. Passive Land base (Dave Patterson)


Problem stems from fire moving from the passive land base (with increased fuel loads) into the active land base where values at risk exist. There is a need for adaptive strategies to reduce the risk of fire and fire spread in the passive land base. Prescribed burns and other techniques need to be investigated.


Comment – CO2 needs to be considered due to the Kyoto Protocol in whatever actions are taken.


  1. Other Activities





Project Proposals


Nine new projects were proposed, discussed and ranked. The 3 highest ranked projects (lowest ranking score) will be incorporated in the 2006 Work Program. The 2 equipment fly-in topics will be addressed through one project. The backpack firehose carrier and the options for drink water projects will be handled under the Tech-Transfer Program and the sprinkler mounting evaluation will be looked at under the existing sprinkler project. All remaining projects will not be addressed in the 2006 work program.







Priority Ranking

Potential benefits, costs and hurtles in developing a western strategic air command






Feasibility of remote communications for fire operations






Effectiveness of fly-in equipment for fire line construction






Feasibility of transporting fire line building machinery by heavy aircraft






Drinking water options for fire line staff






Above ground mounting of sprinklers






Stand alone solar powered, satellite linked web cam for fire monitoring






Coastal fuel typing and validation








Next Meeting: March 23, 2006.

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