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Live Fuel Moisture Content: The ‘Pea Under the Mattress’ of Fire Spread Rate Modeling?

Centre for the Research and Technology of Agro-environmental and Biological Sciences (CITAB), University of Trás-os-Montes e Alto Douro (UTAD), Quinta de Prados, Apartado 1013, 5001-801 Vila Real, Portugal
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Received: 9 September 2018 / Revised: 6 November 2018 / Accepted: 10 November 2018 / Published: 12 November 2018
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Abstract

Currently, there is a dispute on whether live fuel moisture content (FMC) should be accounted for when predicting a real-world fire-spread rate (RoS). The laboratory and field data results are conflicting: laboratory trials show a significant effect of live FMC on RoS, which has not been convincingly detected in the field. It has been suggested that the lack of influence of live FMC on RoS might arise from differences in the ignition of dead and live fuels: flammability trials using live leaves subjected to high heat fluxes (80–140 kW m−2) show that ignition occurs before all of the moisture is vaporized. We analyze evidence from recent studies, and hypothesize that differences in the ignition mechanisms between dead and live fuels do not preclude the use of overall fine FMC for attaining acceptable RoS predictions. We refer to a simple theory that consists of two connected hypotheses to explain why the effect of live FMC on field fires RoS has remained elusive so far: H1, live tree foliage FMC remains fairly constant over the year; and H2, the seasonal variation of live shrubs’ FMC correlates with the average dead FMC. As a result, the effect of live FMC is not easily detected by statistical analysis. View Full-Text
Keywords: laboratory and field fires; ignition mechanisms; flammability tests; heat flux laboratory and field fires; ignition mechanisms; flammability tests; heat flux
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited (CC BY 4.0).
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Rossa, C.G.; Fernandes, P.M. Live Fuel Moisture Content: The ‘Pea Under the Mattress’ of Fire Spread Rate Modeling? Fire 2018, 1, 43.

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