Canadian Forest Service Publications
Advanced information systems in Canadian forest fire control. 1994. Kourtz, P.H. In Proceedings of the AFAC Conference, November 4, 1994, Perth Australia. 20 pages.
Available from: Northern Forestry Centre
Catalog ID: 33796
Annually, in Canada, forest fires burn an area equal to that harvested. The easiest and most economical way to significantly increase our harvestable timber volume is to sharply reduce or eliminate fire losses in our industrial forest zones. Modern technology, when combined with an appropriate fire control organization structure, makes such a goal feasible for little or no increase in current expenditures. Across Canada, provincial fire control agencies are in various states of evolution. Some have changed little since the 1950s, relying on widely-distributed, multiple-use, forestry personnel operating in a low technology environment to carry out the fire control program. In sharp contrast, however,several agencies have evolved to a highly specialized, city-fire-department-like organization structure, dependent upon integrated computerized information systems, aggressive aerial detection, and forceful, aircraft-based initial attack systems. More than a decade of experience with these organizations has shown that very substantial reductions in operating costs and losses are possible. Over the past several decades, a foundation decision support system has been developed and implemented to serve the basic information needs of most provincial fire control agencies. Additional components, including operations research based models and expert systems, have been added to this foundation in several of the more centralized operations. The expert systems that have been developed and partially tested to date include initial attack dispatch, forest fire occurrence prediction, daily fire control resource positioning, daily aerial fire detection planning, and fire attack priority assignment. None are considered operational to date. These systems integrate object programming concepts, relational databases, rule-based structures, neural networks, traditional operations research algorithms, and modern graphic user interfaces. The concepts underlying the Canadian approach to fire control could play a major role in reducing the terrible losses caused by Australian bush fires. However, modern fire control alone will not solve the Australian bush fire problem. A massive fuel modification program is also required at the same time to continually manage the accumulating fuel. These two components, when combined with the existing prevention program, have the potential to significantly reduce present fire losses.