From: VONN Teresa
Sent: Wednesday, July 01, 2009 10:41 AM
Subject: RE: Significant Fire Potential Map description
The Oregon Department of Forestry (ODF) Significant Fire Potential map is the visual display of the results of a series of analysis of historic weather and fires that typically taxed or exceeded initial attack capabilities.
The map is not a adjective or Fire Danger map. The Fire Danger for each Unit or District is determined locally by Fire Managers and is displayed on their individual website such as:
The map is not a regulated use or Industrial Fire Precaution Level Map.
The Forest Closure information is located at the following links:
The ODF Fire Environment Working Group (FEWG) was established in 2005 with the purpose of:
providing information concerning fire intelligence and the fire environment for fire managers and firefighters around the State. This task was to be accomplished through training, guidance, and tool development in the areas of fire behavior, fire danger assessments, and fire planning.  The tools developed would be aids to safely, effectively, and efficiently accomplish fire management objectives. One of the focuses of the FEWG is to establish minimum baseline objectives related to understanding and implementing the National Fire Danger Rating System (NFDRS) and participation in fire planning opportunities such as Fire Danger Operating Plans. The goal is to move the department towards more effectively utilizing nationally recognized  interagency tools and information that is currently available and that are being developed.
To that end a series of Fire Danger Technical visits began in 2006 that brought members of the FEWG Steering Committee to locations across the state to provide peer review of pocket cards and the analysis used to produce those cards. A review of the method of communicating NFDRS indices to firefighters and mangers was reviewed and documented. The fire danger analysis which establishes fire business thresholds and is used to produce pocket cards is done locally, with a peer review by other fire danger technical specialists to ensure that the breakpoints have been developed in a valid and consistent manner across the state. A valid and consistent approach then makes this NFDRS analysis a useful tool that helps local managers make informed fire danger management decisions and also enhances fire fighter safety.
Pocket  Cards are available for ODF protected lands at the following link:
Further fire business analysis resulted in the ODF, NFDRS based Significant Fire Potential analysis.  The Significant Fire Potential analysis is based upon historical fire occurrence and weather using FireFamily Plus, which provides a nationally recognized method and consistent approach. The Significant Fire Potential map became a by-product of these assistance visits.  It provides a more useful visual tool than what previously had existed to make as assessment of the potential for significant fires across the state. As Districts established their fire business threshold breakpoints for low, medium, high, very high, and extremely high potential for significant fires to occur, it just seemed to make sense to display them on a map. The map is one of many tools for local Fire Managers to utilize when making decisions including changing fire danger restrictions, or forest closures.
NFDRS has a long history in the US and Canada. In 1954 there were eight different fire danger rating systems used throughout the country among various fire fighting agencies. Through agreements and compacts work on a national system was begun in 1959 and by 1961 an outline was established. In 1972 the system became operational nationwide. Until 1994 ODF was utilizing its own unique Fire Danger Rating System; after 1994 ODF transitioned to NFDRS.
The NFDRS is a set of computer programs and algorithms that allow land management agencies to estimate today's or tomorrow's fire danger for a given rating area. Calculations of fire danger are based on fuels, topography and weather. NFDRS outputs give relative ratings of the potential growth and behavior for a general area. It must be stressed that this is not a fire behavior prediction system.  NFDRS is a relative system and is not intended to predict fire behavior but is intended to allow for a statistical analysis of historical fire and weather data to determine various percentiles in the distribution of historic data that will then serve as breakpoints for fire management decisions.
Teresa Vonn
Fire Program Analyst
Oregon Department of Forestry