Free «Fire Frequency and Severity» Essay

Fire Frequency and Severity

There has been confusion in the use of a number of concepts relating to fire. This is due to lack of precision in the way these concepts are described by various scholars. Such terms may include fire severity, burn severity, fire frequency, and fire intensity. It is in this light that this write up seeks to compare and contrast the concepts of fire frequency and those of the fire severity by presenting a description of each and using examples from a local jurisdiction. 

Though there has been confusion in the use of the concepts of fire frequency and fire severity, there seem to be a mutual understanding on what is entailed in the two concepts. According to Hoffman and Holden (2010), fire severity is a general concept that is used as a description of active characteristics of fire, as well as the resulting effects coming immediately after a fire incidence. On the other hand, Kitchen (2012) defines fire frequency as the average number of years it takes for a fire incident to follow the previous fire occurrence. Thus, the two concepts, though being used as the attributes of fire regime, differ even in their meanings.

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Similarly, these concepts differ in their indicators and, therefore, ways of measurements. The indicators for fire severity include the extent to which vegetation is consumed, the level of soil alteration as well as the mortality of the vegetation. This can also be described in certain instances as the amount of heat and energy that a given fire can produce and, therefore, the effect of fire on the affected ecology. On the other hand, Kitchen (2012) argues that the only indictor for fire frequency is the number of years it takes for a fire incident to occur after the initial one.

As much as these concepts differ, they have certain similarities. They both form a part of the basic attributes of fire regime. They are, thus, used in the evaluation of fire year by the land managers. Another similarity of the two concepts is seen in their mode of measurements. Fire severity is measured by sampling various points within the area covered by the fire, then assigning a value which can be used in the description of its measures at each point. During this exercise, the satellite imagery is used to collect data from different cells of the place under fire. The same happens in the measurement of fire severity where sensors are used to collect data of each incident of fire and the resulting data used to calculate fire frequency (Hoffman & Holden, 2010).

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Equally, both the frequency and intensity with which any fire will act depend on the area’s vegetation as well as its topography. The two aspects of fire regime are also affected by the climate of the affected area which has an effect on probability of ignition with certain conditions of burning. This means that as much as both the two concepts affect the composition and structure of the affected vegetation, they are also affected by the very vegetation. That is, fire frequency and fire severity normally have a significant level of influence on the vegetation’s species that do thrive in an area. For example, certain species cannot withstand very severe or frequent fire occurrences during their earlier stages of growth vegetation (Kitchen, 2012).

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Colorado Case Study as an Example

The differences and similarities can well be illustrated by what happened recently in Colorado, Woodland Park area. It is recorded that the mysterious fire had destroyed over 400 homes, scorching over 18,247 acres between June 23 and July 5, 2012. This clearly shows that the fire was of high severity. Equally, by the fact that it took the crews over two weeks to contain the fire, causing a damage of over $11.1 million dollars within this short time, the fire was of high severity ( Staff, 2012). Equally, it is evidenced that the fire was of high frequency. Harrison (2012) reported that, in just about one week, 20 small fires had been experienced in the area.

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Additionally, being surrounded by the large Pike National Forest, occupying nearly one million acres, and a mountainous place, the region has both its fire intensity and fire severity being determined by the different ranges in both the zones of vegetation and the level of elevation of the land. It was clear during this incidence that the area’s topography, climate, and vegetation strongly controled both the frequency and severity of fire variety. In conclusion, the two concepts are similar and work together as much as they differ in certain aspects. 

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