Understanding the Fire Weather Index (FWI) System

(Interactive Multimedia Training)

FIRES Course # 113    The Hinton Training Centre

Course Description

Understanding the Fire Weather Index (FWI) System is the latest multimedia, interactive CD-ROM based wildfire-training course produced by the Hinton Training Centre in concert with Christie Communications. Production of the course, which was completed in association with the Canadian Forest Service in August of 2002, also involved the Canadian Interagency Forest Fire Centre National Training Working Group. The course offers a comprehensive introduction to the Canadian Forest Fire Weather Index (FWI) System, one of the major subsystems or modules of the Canadian Forest Fire Danger Rating System. The FWI System consists of three fuel moisture codes and three fire behaviour indexes that provide relative numerical ratings of various aspects of wildfire potential (i.e., ignition, duff consumed, smouldering/persistence, spread rate, total fuel consumption, and intensity) based on four weather observations.

Understanding the Fire Weather Index (FWI) System contains 14 video clips, 219 audio clips, and 656 graphics/photos, on-line help, a glossary, a SI-to-imperial unit conversion calculator, and the "FWI Calculator", used to determine the six standard components of the FWI System for two broad regions in both the northern and southern hemispheres. The course CD-ROM also includes a calculator that allows for the over-winter adjustment to the spring starting value of the FWI System's Drought Code.

Understanding the Fire Weather Index (FWI) System was developed and reviewed by a national team of fire danger rating specialists representing the interests and expertise of research, operations, and training. Each of the four main sections comprising the course ("Overview", "Fuel Moisture Codes", and "Fire Behaviour Indexes and Applications") is followed by a test in preparation for a final exam that is tracked by the computer. The section tests involve a "match" game methodology: for each correct answer, a match goes out, and for each incorrect answer, a match rekindles. Once all of the matches are out, the user has completed the test. Understanding the Fire Weather Index (FWI) System requires approximately 6 hours to complete. Users can take the course in instalments using the book-marking feature that allows them to return to where they left off.

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