Forest and Wildland Fire Management: a Risk Management Perspective (17w5145)


(University of Western Ontario)

David Brillinger (University of California-Berkeley)

(University of Toronto)

(University of California, Los Angeles)

Mike Wotton (Canadian Forest Service)


The Banff International Research Station will host the "Forest and Wildland Fire Management: a Risk Management Perspective" workshop from November 5th to November 10th, 2017.

Fire management agencies have the difficult task of addressing two competing concerns: the importance of fire from an ecological perspective and the danger of fire from a human perspective. Faced with the need to deliver “the right amount of right fire at the right place at the right time at the right cost”, forest fire managers must make difficult decisions on a regular basis.

This workshop will address fire management decision making from an operations research perspective. It will provide a forum for decision makers in fire management agencies to form tangible working relationships with ecologists, fire scientists, industrial engineers, mathematical modellers and statisticians. Participants will engage in discussions about the use of mathematical and statistical models to develop decision support tools. Such models must account for a wide range of specific information, such as values at risk, the current fire load and the probability of fire occurrence and detection, while also incorporating information about the current locations of crews and equipment and their associated dispatch and travel constraints. It is also recognized that it is not enough to produce advances in science. To have an impact, end-users must be able to interpret and trust the output from these models. Tools are needed to aid a manager who, with little lead time, must make decisions and be responsible for the outcomes of such decisions. For example, fire managers need to know about the potential for periods of extreme fire activity – situations when the fire management system can become overwhelmed. To plan effectively, they need tools that capture the scientific understanding of what causes multiple occurrences of large (and expensive) fires and hence, allows them to quantify the probability that multiple regions will be overwhelmed at the same time, preventing one region from assisting another region through intra and inter-agency resource sharing. Making accurate forecasts of such events requires models for the stages of the “lifetime” of a fire together with models which can predict where fires will be ignited; such knowledge can lead to improved prediction as to how fire load changes both spatially and temporally.

The Banff International Research Station for Mathematical Innovation and Discovery (BIRS) is a collaborative Canada-US-Mexico venture that provides
an environment for creative interaction as well as the exchange of ideas, knowledge, and methods within the Mathematical Sciences, with related disc
iplines and with industry. The research station is located at The Banff Centre in Alberta and is supported by Canada's Natural Science and Engineeri
ng Research Council (NSERC), the U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF), Alberta's Advanced Education and Technology, and Mexico's Consejo Nacional
de Ciencia y Tecnología (CONACYT).