Worldwide, fires kill 300,000 people every year. The fire season is usually recognized to be in the warmer periods of the year. Recent research has, however, demonstrated that the colder season also has major challenges regarding severe fires, especially in inhabited (heated) wood-based structures in cold-climate areas. Knowledge about the effect of dry cellulose-based materials on fire development, indoor and outdoor, is a motivation for monitoring possible changes in potential fire behavior and associated fire risk. The effect of wind in spreading fires to neighboring structures points towards using weather forecasts as information on potential fire spread behavior. As modern weather forecasts include temperature and relative humidity predictions, there may already be sufficient information available to develop a structural fire danger rating system. Such a system may include the following steps: (1) Record weather forecasts and actual temperature and relative humidity inside and outside selected structures; (2) Develop a meteorology-data-based model to predict indoor relative humidity levels; (3) Perform controlled drying chamber experiments involving typical hygroscopic fire fuel; (4) Compare the results to the recorded values in selected structures; and (5) Develop the risk model involving the results from drying chamber experiments, weather forecasts, and separation between structures. Knowledge about the structures at risk and their use is also important. The benefits of an automated fire danger rating system would be that the society can better plan for potentially severe cold-climate fires and thereby limit the negative impacts of such fires.
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