Wildland fire has shaped many of the ecosystems of the planet, and for millennia humans have used it as a tool to manage the environment. When widespread wildfires occur, the health and daily lives of millions of people can be affected by the smoke, often at unhealthy to hazardous levels. Recent years have been quite notable in the continental scale of wildfire smoke affecting millions of people. These smoke impacts are highly episodic, with great variability from day to day and year to year, making it extremely difficult to simulate and predict. Land Managers also use prescribed fire to manage and restore the natural environment and to help mitigate the potential for large wildfires. The USDA Forest Service has been working for many years to develop tools and information to aid Land Managers conducting prescribed burning and the many agency personnel addressing wildfire smoke impacts. A smoke prediction system known as BlueSky has been under development for many years calculating fire emissions and running as a smoke dispersion forecast. It is based on fire ecology and combustion research, calculating fire emissions using mapped fuel loadings from the Fuel Characteristic Classification System (FCCS), modeling combustion and heat released with the CONSUME consumption model, and applying emission factors supplied from Smoke Emission Reference Application (SERA). The system is automated to provide smoke forecast runs daily and is also at the user’s fingertips to do their own smoke modeling in BlueSky playground. Foundational to these endeavors are NOAA tools and information such as HYSPLIT, NAM forecast meteorological datasets, and satellite fire detections from several instruments. This presentation will profile these items and more.
This webinar highlights the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) Planning Framework for Protecting Commercial Building Occupants from Smoke During Wildfires. The Planning Framework is a publicly available resource developed by government and industry experts that provides building managers for public and commercial buildings, including schools, with advice on steps to reduce smoke exposures that can occur indoors during wildfires and prescribed burning. In addition, EPA researchers will share examples from field studies in Missoula, MT and the Hoopa Valley Tribe in Hoopa, CA to better understand indoor air quality in public and commercial buildings under typical ambient conditions and when smoke events occur. These examples include the impact of building characteristics and ventilation systems on indoor air quality during smoke episodes.