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Development of a Field Deployable Firebrand Flux and Condition Measurement System

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Zen, Simone ; Thomas, Jan C.; Mueller, Eric V; Dhurandher, Bhisham ; Gallagher, Michael ; Skowronski, Nicholas ; Hadden, Rory M.

Year Published



Fire Technology


A new instrument to quantify firebrand dynamics during fires with particular focus on those associated with the Wildland-Urban Interface (WUI) has been developed. During WUI fires, firebrands can ignite spot fires, which can rapidly increase the rate of spread (ROS) of the fire, provide a mechanism by which the fire can pass over firebreaks and are the leading cause of structure ignitions. Despite this key role in driving wildfire dynamics and hazards, difficulties in collecting firebrands in the field and preserving their physical condition (e.g. dimensions and temperature) have limited the development of knowledge of firebrand dynamics. In this work we present a new, field-deployable diagnostic tool, an emberometer, designed to provide measurement of firebrand fluxes and information on both the geometry and the thermal conditions of firebrands immediately before deposition by combining a visual and infrared camera. A series of laboratory experiments were conducted to calibrate and validate the developed imaging techniques. The emberometer was then deployed in the field to explore firebrand fluxes and particle conditions for a range of fire intensities in natural pine forest environments. In addition to firebrand particle characterization, field observations with the emberometer enabled detailed time history of deposition (i.e. firebrand flux) relative to concurrent in situ fire behaviour observations. We highlight that deposition was characterised by intense, short duration "showers" that can be reasonably associated to spikes in the average fire line intensity. The results presented illustrate the potential use of an emberometer in studying firebrand and spot fire dynamics.


Firebrands; Embers; Firebreaks; Emberometer


Zen, Simone; Thomas, Jan C.; Mueller, Eric V.; Dhurandher, Bhisham; Gallagher, Michael; Skowronski, Nicholas; Hadden, Rory M. 2021. Development of a Field Deployable Firebrand Flux and Condition Measurement System. Fire Technology. 57(3): 1401-1424.

Last updated on: September 13, 2021