U.S. Joint Fire Science Program


Date of this Version


Document Type



Final Report: JFSP 03-1-3-09


US government work.


Predictions of smoke impacts on communities and ecosystems are currently being made by the BlueSky smoke forecast system; providing real-time predictions of surface smoke concentrations from prescribed fire, wildfire, and agricultural burn activities. Currently operational in the Pacific Northwest, BlueSky has already a demonstrated success regarding what inter-agency collaboration can accomplish. A critical component of BlueSky that needed to be addressed was the development of an automated verification system to evaluate predicted impacts from smoke on communities and ecosystems. A verification system is necessary because land managers need to evaluate their burn decisions against potential National Ambient Air Quality Standard (NAAQS) exceedences. To achieve this, the verification of predicted concentrations against observed must be provided in a timely (i.e. real-time) manner. Thus the original proposal included two major components: 1) improving existing monitoring systems to make the data available in real-time (e.g., in a manner similar to the Washington State Department of Ecology, WSDOE); and 2) implementing a software system that compares these observational data with the smoke concentration fields predicted by BlueSky. Directly and indirectly, BlueSky has sparked several inter-agency field projects. Projects include JFSP funded field projects of wildfires (predominately conducted on the West Coast and Northwest) and prescribed burns on the Atlantic Coast. In 2004, EPA Administrator Mike Leavitt tasked the EPA with implementing BlueSky RAINS for the 2005 fire season across all Western States for wildfires. The result was the multi-agency 2005 BlueSky RAINS West (BSRW) demonstration project. The project developed a new partnership among the USDA Forest Service Pacific Northwest, Rocky Mountain, Pacific Southwest, and Southern Research Stations; Forest Service National Forest Systems and State and Private Forestry, EPA; and the Department of the Interior.