The Western Fire Chiefs Association
Partners with UC San Diego WIFIRE Lab & FIRIS to Launch Predictive Fire Modeling

Published:October 19, 2022
October 28, 2022

Fire Modeling Predicts the Path of a Fire For Up To Three Hours to Help Communities and First Responders Prepare

October 19, 2022 (Wilsonville, OR) – The Western Fire Chiefs Association (WFCA) announces the introduction of predictive fire modeling in partnership with UC San Diego’s WIFIRE Lab and the Fire Integrated Real-Time Intelligence System (FIRIS) for wildfires in California.

WIFIRE Lab is a UC San Diego-based program that provides real-time fire modeling and predictions for firefighters on the frontlines and is an integrated part of FIRIS. FIRIS gathers information from a wildfire using infrared cameras, mountain-based cameras around the state, and data from firefighters. That information is sent to the WIFIRE Lab inside the San Diego Supercomputer Center on UC San Diego’s campus.

“The WIFIRE Lab computes the data based on fire location and current weather conditions,” said Jeff Meston, WIFIRE Advisory Board Member and Executive Director of the California Fire Chiefs Association. “Within five minutes of a reported fire, we can build a predictive fire model that forecasts the path of the fire over the next three hours,” says Chief Meston. “Sharing this information directly with California Fire Agencies and the public via the WFCA Fire Map is going to save lives, land, and property.”

“Turning data into knowledge quickly saves lives,” adds Brian Fennessy, Orange County Fire Authority. “We are delighted to be able to work in partnership with UC San Diego, WIFIRE Lab, and FIRIS to deliver state-of-the-art fire modeling to the public in California via the WFCA Fire Map,” said Chief Fennessy.

Active wildfires in California – live feed, October 18, 2022: 4:33 PM
Predictive Fire Modeling at 30 minutes from the initial attack and again at 2 hours 30 min assuming no fire suppression.

Early fire forecasting uses multiple dynamic inputs that impact its accuracy. The point of origin of the fire is approximate, and the fire could spread further or in a different direction than indicated. The models assume that there is no fire suppression activity that could limit spread. Always follow the evacuation orders of your
local agency. No warranty is given as to the accuracy or completeness of the data.

According to Brian Fennessey, founder of FIRIS, California Fire Chiefs Fire Chief of the Year, and Orange County Fire Authority Chief, “FIRIS provides real-time situational awareness for firefighters on the ground, helping them make critical decisions. I believe that the same information helps the public, too. That is why we
have partnered with the WFCA.”

FIRIS began in 2019 and uses the Overwatch Imaging platform, which includes an aerial infra-red (IR) platform that integrates cutting-edge technologies provided by Aevex Aviation. That data is fed to Intterra’s wildfire decision support software, where WIFIRE retrieves the data for predictive analytics.

“We’ve analyzed data for over one thousand vegetation fires this summer,” said Chief Meston. “I am incredibly proud of the work we are doing to let firefighters know exactly where the fire is and where it is going,” said Meston. “This is a perfect example of the public and private sectors working together to help the
fire service and to empower the community with the knowledge necessary to protect themselves.”

About the WFCA
The Western Fire Chiefs Association is a non-profit that represents fire-related emergency service organizations throughout the west coast and Western Pacific Islands. The WFCA is dedicated to protecting people and the environment from the occurrence and outcomes of fires and other natural, technological, and
human-behavior-caused emergencies.

About the WFCA Fire Map
In July, the WFCA launched its Fire Map, which pulls data from the US Forest Service via the National Interagency Fire Center IRWIN feed and 911 Dispatch data via PulsePoint to track the location of the wildfire as they start and while they’re burning. FIRIS (California only) provides early fire perimeter and 3-hour
forecasting models. Fire dispatch and location data are approximate, and no representation or warranty is given as to the timeliness, accuracy, or completeness of the data. The WFCA Fire Map is the first map of its kind to pull such data from 911 Dispatch in relevant areas, show live fire fighting aircraft, depict wildland fire
in 3D, and is the only fire map that integrates FIRIS where it is available in California.

The WFCA Fire Map would not be possible without the working partnership between WFCA, PulsePoint Foundation, the US Forest Service, UCSD WIFIRE FIRIS, California Fire Chiefs Association, and Mapbox.

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