Research projects exploring new and emerging technology to support wildland fire incident response and save lives.
Researchers will play a critical role in coordinating a collaborative approach to contain and control the threat of wildfire in the WUI.
Wildland Urban Interface: A Look at Issues and Resolutions
The U.S. Fire Administration (USFA), in collaboration with the U.S. Department of the Interior and U.S. Forest Service, has documented opportunities for organizations and partners at every level to work with each other and resolve the challenges identified in the wildland urban interface (WUI).
Following the loss of life from the 2017 California wildfires in Santa Rosa and Ventura, the USFA began collaborating with the Department of Homeland Security's Science and Technology (S&T) directorate to research new and emerging technology that could be applied to wildland fire incident response.
Improving operational capabilities and incident response were the initial focus. Several other areas of innovation were also identified related to wildland fire preparedness and mitigation and enhanced wildland fire suppression practices, including resistant infrastructure planning, building materials and building codes.
The projects listed on this page are a summary of completed and ongoing work that USFA supports and collaborates on with S&T and other partners.
A project to develop a suite of sensors, platforms and other early wildfire detection technologies to assist the Federal Emergency Management Agency and state and local emergency management partners in wildfire response.
How this project helps the fire service: Early, targeted warning of these fire events is critical for improved fire response and public and firefighter safety.
TAK is a free-to-use GPS communications tool for mobile devices to improve situational awareness. Originally developed for special forces, it is available to fire personnel on iOS and Android devices.
How this project helps the fire service: TAK allows firefighters to see each other's locations, and communicate and coordinate better in a complex WUI environment.
Augmented reality wildfire home safety app
The app, free and available in the App and Google Play stores, allows users to scan a property with their mobile device and instantly be made aware of tips to improve home survival in the event of a wildfire. While scanning, it identifies components of the home at ignition risk during a wildfire event and gives the user steps to take to mitigate any fire risks.
How this project helps the fire service: Fire prevention officers can use the app in the field to promote interactive conversations about wildfire safety actions.
Structure separation experiments
The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), USFA and other agency partners are conducting a multi-year phased series of full-scale fire experiments to assess safe structure separation distances between different types of auxiliary and residential structures. Fire spread from structure to structure is often a major factor in large-loss WUI fire events.
Measurement of flame lengths, heat fluxes, and temperatures generated from burning structures ranging from small sheds to neighboring residences will support parcel-level spacing guidance, structure hardening guidance, and the development of more representative test methods of fuels and mitigation pathways implemented in the WUI. Results may be used by authorities having jurisdiction nationwide to define or refine structure separation requirements and building and fire codes in both WUI and non-WUI environments.
How this project helps the fire service: Research results can help to inform fire and building codes officials about structure separation and safety in WUI communities.
Get a head start on your WUI research project with these reference materials from the National Emergency Training Center Library.
Bad Smoke, Good Smoke: A Texas Rancher's View of Wildfire
Rancher and author John Erickson relates the story of 2 wildfires that swept across his ranch in 2006 and 2017. The book also synthesizes and explains the latest research in range management, climate and fire.