German pilot site
Fire science of wildfires and safety measures
A direct consequence of climate change are longer drier periods of drought, even in countries that traditionally had a lot of rain. In Germany, about 32 % of the surface area is covered by forests. The dryness monitor shows that the regions of Saxony-Anhalt and Brandenburg are some of the driest parts of Germany a have been particularly affected by fires, with an increase in the number, severity and area over the past 5 years. Most fires in both provinces have been ground fires which are dependent on dryness and dead organic material. It is essential to understand the mechanisms of vegetation-specific fire behaviour and smoke production in order to develop effective firefighting measures. To achieve this, experiments on a medium and large scale are undertaken using ground specimens up to several square meters, to evaluate the dependence of the fire spread on various kinds of vegetation as well as different amounts of organic mass in the ground and dryness. Better understanding of fire and smoke development mechanisms allows for more precise prediction of fire and smoke development which is crucial for assessing and improving firefighting tactics. Smoke production of these fires is a health risk for firefighters as well as for inhabitants of villages close to forest areas. Extinguishment methods need to be water-saving, eco-friendly and efficient. Each fire scenario has different challenges and wildfires can happen in industrial areas as is the case in many areas of Brandenburg. This presents a great danger of pollutants being introduced into the environment together with the water-based extinguish agents, therefore optimal use and delivery of extinguishing liquids, other extinguishing agents and firefighting methods is of high importance.
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