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Local Forest Fires


Developing a New Method Intended to Fight Local Forest Fires. Simulation, Laboratory, and Full-Scale Experiments

Tech Area / Field

  • ENV-OTH/Other/Environment
  • PHY-NGD/Fluid Mechanics and Gas Dynamics/Physics

3 Approved without Funding

Registration date

Leading Institute
VNIITF, Russia, Chelyabinsk reg., Snezhinsk

Supporting institutes

  • Chelyabinsk State University, Russia, Chelyabinsk reg., Chelyabinsk


  • Los-Alamos National Laboratory / Weapons Engineering & Manufacturing Authorization Basis, USA, NM, Los-Alamos\nSandia National Laboratories, USA, NM, Albuquerque

Project summary

Recent decades have witnessed significant increase of different-type fires, which incurred great losses and many victims. Forest or wilderness fires are of special concern among other heavy fires. During scorching summer seasons of the recent years, the USA, Canada, France, Portugal, Spain, Russia, and other countries saw disastrous forest fires, which are, as a rule, damaging and even fatal for flora and fauna.

There are many forest firefighting methods, which use expensive special equipment and involve manpower up to several thousands of people.

Experience indicates that fighting global fires turns out to be low efficient independently of the extinguishing method used. Yet, each fire has its local stage first. Efficiency of preventing the local-to-global fire transition strongly depends on the extinguishing method. The reason of the fire in Los Alamos in 2000 was the prescribed grass fire in accordance with the large-scale forest fire prevention technology widely used by the US Federal Forest. Available methods failed to prevent the local fire to transit to the global stage. This fire destroyed forests over the territory of 20000 hectares and 500 residential buildings in Los Alamos. About 30000 people were evacuated. Losses due this fire exceeded 1 billion dollars.

According to the preliminary analysis, forest fires can be classified into several categories. One type characterizes properties of an averaged forest fire typical for well-wooded temperate altitude zones available in European countries, Russia, the USA, etc. Below provided are the basic parameters of an averaged fire incident to these zones:

  • Prevailing fires are crown fires.
  • Amount of fuel per unit square is ~20kg/m2.
  • Combustibility is ~20%.
  • The ratio of fuel in open flame and smoldering combustion modes is 50/50;
  • Bottom energy threshold of wood inflammation is 10-20 cal/cm2;
  • Wind velocity is ~5m/sec.

The Project is aimed to develop a method for extinguishing fires just at the local stage.

Project goals:

  • Studying several most efficient methods to fight local forest fires;
  • Developing a new method to fight local forest fires;
  • Validating efficiency of the new method to fight local fires with the regard for operational, economical, and environmental requirements;
  • Preparing recommendations on the development of the technology aimed to localize and extinguish forest fires based on the obtained results.

All theoretical investigations aimed to optimize the method efficiency will use a new multi-component medium model, which assumes nonequilibrium in temperature, pressure, and velocity of components movement.

Work implementation presupposes:

  • Analysis of initial data to create a model fire, which characterizes a temperate-altitude forest fire;
  • Development and practical implementation of this fire on the Institute test-site;
  • Measurements (arrangement and implementation) of model fire’s basic parameters;
  • Development of the mathematical model of fire and verification of calculation results;
  • Development of the explosive method for dispersing a firefighting material; preparation of the optimal-condition fire-extinguishing mixture, and investigation into efficiency of model fire extinguishing by this fine-dispersed medium;
  • Study of specific features in the interaction of flame and sparks with the fire-extinguishing mixture cloud;
  • Preparation of recommendations on the development of the forest fire localization-and-extinguishing method, which partially or totally combines advantages of the most efficient methods.

Novelty of this work: creation of the efficient method to fight local fires, which is based on experiments and calculations.

This proposal mainly refers to the category of applied investigations with the partial development of the forest fire localization-and-extinguishing method. The ratio of applied and technological aspects is somewhat 3:1.

After Project is completed, the authors intend to pursue the work and go into the details of the technology with the follow-on demonstration of this technology and its ultimate practical application for fire localization and extinguishing.

RFNC-VNIITF possesses everything to attain the outlined goals:

Experts in the area of high-speed chemical processes;

Mathematicians and physicists both capable of developing models of different fires, and experienced in mathematical simulation of complicated physical processes;

Up-to-date model of the multi-component and multi-phase medium. This model is developed at RFNC-VNIITF and available only at RFNC-VNIITF;

Experimental site, which allows model fires and explosive experiments;

Registration instrumentation and equipment for high-speed processes.

Chelyabinsk State University has experts who are highly experienced in mathematical simulation, physics of combustion and explosion, macrokinetics of combustion in complicated chemical systems, fluid mechanics, and experimental physics. They are capable of developing the forest fire model and have practical experience in this direction. Moreover, Chelyabinsk State University has laboratories of applied gas-dynamics and heat exchange with the laboratory of combustion included. The laboratory of combustion has an experimental facility to study combustion processes in gaseous and solid media. This facility is equipped by the appropriate measurement system. The laboratory also has equipment for optical investigations of high-speed processes. The University possesses a gas-dynamics laboratory, where investigation of gas-dynamic characteristics of target processes is possible.

Investigations will include calculations and experiments and will result in the development of both experimental model, and mathematical model of the forest fire. The developed mathematical model will enhance efficiency of the proposed firefighting method.

Great experience of weapon scientists, as well as computational and industrial capabilities of RFNC-VNIITF is the guarantee of the work success.

Experimental investigations will use the following experimental procedures and appropriate equipment available on the internal test-site of RFNC-VNIITF and its testing areas:

  • Experimental procedures to measure gas-dynamic parameters;
  • Electro-contact procedures;
  • High-speed photochronographic procedures;
  • Pulse-pressure measurement procedures;
  • Temperature-measurement procedure and high-speed video filming.

Cooperation with foreign collaborators will include:
  • Information exchange in the course of Project implementation;
  • Discussions of scientific and technical reports under the Project;
  • Assessment of applicability efficiency for studied procedures;
  • Preparation of joint publications and conduct of joint working meetings.


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