Wildfires are a growing problem across the U.S. as climate change extends the duration of fire seasons. Coupled with a historical policy of aggressively fighting fires this has resulted in a buildup of volatile vegetation and fuels.
Through multiple projects over the past 10 years Sanborn has developed a robust suite of wildfire management risk assessment methods and software tools—WFRAS (Wildland Fire Risk Assessment System). Tested and proven at regional and local planning scales, these methods provide a repeatable, consistent and comparable approach for assessing current wildfire risk conditions. Sanborn uses aerial photography in the process of identifying those areas most prone to wildfire, and evaluating different mitigation options
Adopted by federal, state and local government agencies across the Southern and Western U.S., the WFRAS solution leverages the latest in scientific achievements by integrating desktop and web GIS and remote sensing technologies.
WFRAS provides a proven and robust wildfire risk assessment approach that is consistent across the U.S. The WFRAS process is based on a systematic, rational planning process initiated with aerial photography and an assessment of the current situation, followed by analyzing alternatives, implementation, and monitoring and evaluation steps.
WFRAS has been designed to maximize the benefit to fire planners and managers by focusing on providing the information critical for operational decision making, and development is on-going through collaboration with our clients to ensure that the tools and resultant information generated meets the needs of various stakeholders. The ability to share data with other agencies, and especially the public, is key. WFRAS offers the following tangible benefits:
- Builds upon the federal LANDFIRE Program by putting the data to immediate use reducing the cost for fuels and canopy mapping
- Enhances LANDFIRE data to bring it up to date to reflect current conditions, as well as use it as a baseline for future projections
- Provides a consist repository of accurate information that can be used in conjunction with other agencies to support multi-jurisdictional planning and operations
- Provides the critical data needed to identify and quantify the potential impacts of wildfires such as exposure for critical infrastructure, people and structures
- Integrates with census and County assessor data to provide measures of economic and social impacts, in particular loss estimation and dollar exposure for structure, commodity agriculture, plantations
- Environmental impacts
- Supports planners to evaluate the economic return on investment for fuel treatment projects by calculating changes in risk and economic impact.
- These tools allow you to quantify the changes in fuels, level of risk, and dollar exposure based on simulated mitigation activities.
WFRAS also includes analysis tools to integrate assessor data to calculate economic impacts based on wildfire risk, such as Dollar Exposure for the rebuild value of structures. WFRAS has been successfully used for:
- Prioritizing mitigation activities by providing comparable and consistent information
- Communicating the risk situation to the public, in support of local FireWise and prevention efforts
- Communicating the risk situation to legislators and decision makers in support of federal and state funding initiatives
- Quantifying Communities-at-Risk ratings to support planning for where fuel treatments and mitigation activities will have the greatest benefit
- Helping states prioritize areas for allocating grants to Counties and communities
- Providing the risk information necessary for development of Community Wildfire Protection Plans and Operational Pre-Attack Plans
- Quantifying levels of risk for any area of concern, including watershed basins, and administrative and political boundaries
- Identifying areas where more detailed analysis, planning and prevention efforts are required, such as home assessments
- Support multi-jurisdictional planning for federal, state and local agencies
- Satisfying the wildfire hazard input requirements for FEMA based Hazard Mitigation Plans in support of DMA 2000
Outputs—Using Assessment Results to Generate Outcome
A series of standard maps, reports, and GIS data are derived by WFRAS—these include:
- Updated surface and canopy fuels
- Likelihood for fire igniting (fire occurrence)
- Probability of a wildfire occurring (threat)
- Probability of loss or harm occurring (risk)
- Probability of severe damage to structures (susceptibility)
The WFRAS ArcGIS application also provides analysis tools to support on-going use of the data for the evaluation of mitigation alternatives, such as fuel treatment planning. These tools are powerful for determining the impacts of fuel treatments, and quantifying whether planned treatments will reduce the risk to communities, and subsequent dollar exposure and potential losses.
WFRAS also includes tools to quantify the risk to areas of concern, such as communities in the WUI. In addition, by integrating census and assessor data, WFRAS can quantify potential impacts of fires—including estimating losses to critical infrastructure, homes and people. Deriving information on dollar exposure helps planners document the need for mitigation, and prioritize those areas most exposed with the greatest potential for loss and harm.
Risk Summary Report (provided in MSWord or PDF format)
GIS datasets (deliverable on DVD, CD or FTP) ESRI format for the following layers: