Fuelbreaks: a part of wildfire prevention

Fire prevention covers controlling both fire hazards and fire risks. Preventing wildfires through controlling the quantity or arrangement of forest fuels can be a solution. Fuelbreaks are a common method of applying hazard reduction. Fuelbreaks are man-made areas with a reduced fuel load that act as barriers to stop or slow down fire spread. They are also designed to provide firefighters access and to act as a retreat for personnel and equipment to escape injury. A fuelbreak is always constructed in anticipation of future fires. Dimensions and locations of these barriers are often settled on the basis of expert’s judgment with very little scientific basis. Prediction of fuelbreaks width can be very difficult even with the use of sophisticated models.

This article is divided into these following sections: Firstly, background information on wildfire mechanism is given. Secondly, global trends in forest fires and their impacts are detailed. Thirdly, the use of fuelbreaks in fire management is explained. After that, examples of operational tools are shown and discussed. And finally, a conclusion on this issue and a summary of future needs are proposed.

This paper is a contribution to the 2019 edition of the Global Assessment Report on Disaster Risk Reduction (GAR 2019).

VI Regional Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction in the Americas, Cartagena, Colombia 20-22 June 2018 VI Regional Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction in the Americas, Cartagena, Colombia 20-22 June 2018.
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