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Texas A&M Forest Service participates in multi-agency research prescribed burn at Camp Swift

CAMP SWIFT,  January 14, 2014— This week Texas A&M Forest Service along with 13 other organizations will take part in a research prescribed burn exercise that seeks to improve technology developed for understanding fire behavior.

Information collected from this prescribed burn will be useful to both the public and first responders by giving them an idea of how a wildfire may behave.

“It’s really an honor to be a part of this research, it not only provides information that will help keep homeowners and  firefighters safe but also gives us the opportunity to learn the science behind fire behavior,” said Rich Gray, Texas A&M Forest Service Program Coordinator. “It will give the agency a chance to show its ongoing expertise in prescribed burning and fire management.

Leading the research burn is Alexander Maranghides, Primary Investigator at National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST).

“The productive and successful collaboration is based on the Bastrop fire assessment,” said Maranghides. “NIST developed a collection methodology, and helped train TFS in this methodology, which allows for the continuing partnership during this research burn. This is a really great opportunity to work with several federal and state organizations, including academia.”

In 2011, NIST completed a post fire assessment of large loss wildfires in Texas. During that time, NIST became aware of the capabilities and proficiency of TFS which have helped cultivate the partnership of the upcoming research exercise.

The prescribed burn taking place at Camp Swift, will use advanced technology including Light Detection and Ranging  (LIDAR), Sonic Detection and Ranging (SODAR) equipment, and Unmanned aerial vehicles to help collect information on how fires burns under certain weather and topographical conditions.

“Bastrop was the unlucky recipient of one of the largest wildfires in Texas history. We are very keen on learning more about wildfire suppression and prevention so hopefully this doesn’t happen again,” said Mike Fisher, Bastrop Emergency Management Coordinator. “We are glad to be a part of this research, and look forward to seeing it yield products that will help other states across the nation and countries across the world.”

During this exercise the researchers will also collect data on the fire’s intensity and rates of spread. A major goal from the burn is to gather data so NIST and the U.S. Forest Service can build a fire behavior modeling program that will assist the fire service in determining what actions and resources are needed to contain a fire.  Other beneficial developments from the research include: wildland fuel treatments, reduction in structure loss, and increased firefighter safety.

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