Course Descriptions & Student Learning Outcomes

FIRE 157 - Intermediate Wildland Fire Behavior

  • Prerequisite: "C" or higher in ENG 22/60 or ESL 23, OR Placement in ENG 100; Placement in MATH 24/50
  • Recommended Prep: FIRE 151

This course is designed to instruct prospective fi reline personnel in wildland fire behavior for eff ective and safe management operations. Fire behavior is not an independent phenomenon - it is the product of the environment in which the fire is burning. In applying this definition to fire, we can then regard fire environment as the conditions, infl uences, and modifying forces that control the fire behavior. Fire behavior must obey physical laws. We consider certain types of fire behavior unusual or unexpected only because we have failed to evaluate properly the conditions, influences, and forces that are in control. To predict fire behavior, and to control and use fi re effectively and safely, we must understand and use the interactions of fire with its environment. This course will examine the fire environment - what it is, how it varies and why, and how fire itself alters the total picture.

3 hrs. lect. per week

Student Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion of FIRE 157, the student will be able to:

  • have met the training required for S-290 Intermediate Wildland Fire Behavior, and will be able to do the following:
    • Identify the fire environment's three major components: topography, fuel, and weather.
    • Describe how the earth's surface and lower atmosphere warms and cools.
    • Explain the significance of the earth's "heat balance".
    • Explain the change of the season.
    • Discuss why there are daily and seasonal lags in temperature.
    • Describe the relationship among atmospheric pressure, volume, and temperature.
    • Compare and list the effects of daytime solar radiation and nighttime heat losses from various surfaces.
    • Describe the relationship among dry bulb temperature, dew point, wet bulb temperature, and relative humidity.
    • Describe typical diurnal temperature and relative humidity changes.
    • Determine relative humidity and dew point using appropriate psychrometric tables.
    • Describe the effects of terrain, vegetation, clouds, and wind on temperature and relative humidity.
    • Define stable and unstable atmospheric conditions and explain their significance to wildland fire behavior.
    • List three types of inversions and describe their effects on wildland fire behavior.
    • Describe the thermal belt and explain its significance on wildland fire behavior.
    • Define subsidence and describe two situations where it can increase wildland fire behavior.
    • List and describe the four lifting processes that can cause thunderstorm development.
    • List and describe the three stages of thunderstorms.
    • Determine the stability or instability of the atmosphere based on visual indicators.
    • List six types of clouds and describe their probable effect on fire weather.
    • Describe how air flows around high and low pressure systems.
    • Describe sea and land breezes and the processes that cause their occurrence.
    • Determine typical slope and valley winds during a 24-hour period using a topographic map.
    • Indicate the changes in wind that occur as a cold front moves through an area, and describe how these winds can change the spread of a wildland fire.
    • Describe foehn winds and list three reasons why they can lead to critical wildland fire weather patterns.
    • Explain how thunderstorms can affect the wind in the wildland fire environment.
    • List three ways topography can alter the speed and direction of the wind.
    • Explain the relationship among general, local, 20-foot, and mid-flame winds.
    • List and describe seven characteristics of fuels that affect wildland fire behavior.
    • Indicate the changes in wind that occur as a cold front moves through an area, and describe how these winds can change the spread of wildland fire.
    • List and define by size class the four dead fuel time lag categories used to classify fuels.
    • Describe how fuels availability is essential to predicting wildland fire behavior.
    • Describe the fuel model concept and its utility for predicting wildland fire behavior.
    • Name the five stages of vegetative development of live fuels, and give the average percent moisture content of each.
    • Describe the relationships among relative humidity, wind, and moisture content of fine and large fuels.
    • Explain how the amount and duration of precipitation and soil moisture affect moisture content of fine and large fuels.
    • Define the fuel moisture timelag concept and its value to firefighters and fire managers.
    • Describe how fuel moisture is determined for dead fuels in each of the four timelag categories.
    • Define moisture of extinction, how it varies in natural fuel complexes, and how it affects wildland fire ignition and spread.
    • Determine fuel moisture contents for fine dead 1-hour timelag fuels from fuel moisture tables during daylight conditions.
    • List the types of fire weather forecasts available.
    • List three weather patterns that warrant the issuance of either a Red Flag Watch or Warning.
    • Describe the difference between general and spot forecasts and how each is obtained.
    • Describe common terms used in weather forecasting, including Lightning Activity Levels (LALs) and probably forecasts
    • Describe the importance of having a field observer, weather observer, or other assigned person provide a lookout for potentially hazardous wildland fire behavior systems.
    • Demonstrate the use and maintenance of the belt weather kit in taking field weather observations.
    • Define wildland fire behavior characteristics that relate to fireline safety and tactics.
    • Describe how rate of spread and flame length react to changes in fuels, fuel moisture, wind, and slope.
    • Describe effective wind speed and explain how it is determined.
    • Define wildland fire behavior in the third dimension and list four factors that are responsible for its occurence.
    • Describe the three stages of crown fire development and the conditions under which they are likely to occur.
    • Describe eight factors that contribute to the spotting problem.
    • Define the probability of ignition, describe its use, and determine it using tables.
    • Define vortices, the· conditions which contribute to their occurence, and their implications to wildland fire behavior.
    • Define the difference between wind-driven and plume-dominated fires.
    • List the seven (7) wildland fire environment factors to monitor on the fireline.
    • Recognize the indicators of the seven (7) wildland fire environment factors.

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