Wildfire Threat Assessment

A wildfire threat assessment is a key process that evaluates the negative ecological, social and economic impacts of wildfire. Different components are combined, and the resulting combinations evaluated to identify those areas on the landscape most threatened by wildfire.

Fire Behaviour Potential

Fire behavior is the manner in which fuel ignites, flame develops, and fire spreads and exhibits other related phenomena.

  • Assessment of fuels
  • Existing barriers to fire spread
  • Fire growth potential and landscape interactions
  • Fire weather and climate assessments
  • Topography and fire interactions

Fire Occurrence Risk

Fire occurrence risk is the probability or chance of fire starting as determined by the presence of causative agents (i.e., potential number of ignitions).

  • Assessment of fire probability-dependant on weather and fuel moisture
  • Causes-human, lightning, etc
  • Other potential ignitions sources (e.g., burning coal seams)
  • Seasonal assessments (soil types and moisture regime, green-up stages and climatology projections)

Values at risk

Values-at-risk are a specific or collective set of natural resources and man made improvements and/or developments that have measurable or intrinsic worth, and which could potentially be destroyed or otherwise altered by fire in any given area.

Provincial Priorities in Fire Suppression

  • Human life (For example: Occupied industrial plant sites, construction camps, commercial lodges, campgrounds including private and municipal, etc.)
  • Communities (For example: cities, towns, villages, hamlets, subdivisions within Indian Reserves (IR), subdivisions within Metis lands, etc.)
  • Watersheds/soils (For example: critical fish habitat, areas of possible erosion and siltation, sensitive soils, critical basins for water production, etc.)
  • Natural resources (For example: terrestrial and aquatic vegetation, wildlife, fisheries, insects and disease, threatened/rare/endangered species, critical age classes, research plots and enhanced treatments, recreation and tourism, protected areas/significant features, visual quality, historical/cultural areas, range opportunities, wood product opportunities, hydrocarbon and in situ resource opportunities, etc.)
  • Infrastructure (For example: major roads, major transmission lines, major railways, major telecom sites, major navigational sites, main public travel corridors, buildings, etc.)

Suppression capability

Suppression capability includes the factors and limitations that are related to the ability to contain a wildfire upon detection in order to protect values at risk.

Landscape Biophysical Elements

  • Ecological biodiversity management elements (old growth, riparian, climate, insect and disease incidents, stand/forest fragmentation, ecological zones and protection areas)
  • Existing barriers to fire spread (non-fuels, deciduous stands, linear disturbances, hydrography)
  • Steepness of terrain/slope
  • Water availability (lakes, permanent water courses, tributaries, non draining borrow pits)

Non-Biophysical Elements

  • Access availability (all-weather and dry weather roads with grade)
  • Anchor points and helipads
  • Attack weight; capability of resources dispatched
  • Detection assessment
  • Industry support (fireline staff and equipment)
  • Initial attack response time targets by fire hazard and fire management zone
  • Initial attack success (probability of containment)
  • Probability of containment
  • Topography/valley orientation


Updated: Mar 8, 2011