Skip to main content

Development of the Indonesian and Malaysian Fire Danger Rating Systems


Forest and land fires in Southeast Asia have many social, economic, and environmental impacts. Tropical peatland fires affect global carbon dynamics, and haze from peat fires has serious negative impacts on the regional economy and human health. To mitigate these fire-related problems, forest and land management agencies require an early warning system to assist them in implementing fire prevention and management plans before fire problems begin. Fire Danger Rating Systems (FDRS) were developed for Indonesia and Malaysia to provide early warning of the potential for serious fire and haze events. In particular, they identify time periods when fires can readily start and spread to become uncontrolled fires and time periods when smoke from smouldering fires will cause an unacceptably high level of haze. The FDRS were developed by adapting components of the Canadian Forest Fire Danger Rating System, including the Canadian Forest Fire Weather Index (FWI) System and the Canadian Forest Fire Behavior Prediction (FBP) System, to local vegetation, climate, and fire regime conditions. A smoke potential indicator was developed using the Drought Code (DC) of the FWI System. Historical air quality analysis showed that the occurrence of severe haze events increased substantially when DC was above 400. An ignition potential indicator was developed using the Fine Fuel Moisture Code (FFMC) of the FWI System. Historical hot spot analysis, grass moisture, and grass ignition studies showed that fire occurrence and the ability for grass fires to start and spread dramatically increased when FFMC > 82. The Initial Spread Index (ISI) of the FWI System was used to develop a difficulty of control indicator for grassland fires, a fuel type that can exhibit high rates of spread and fire intensity. This ISI-based indicator was developed using the grass fuel model of the FBP System, along with a standard grass fuel load and curing level estimated from previous Indonesian studies. Very high fire intensity is expected in grasslands when ISI ≥ 6. To provide early warning, the FDRS identifies classes of increasing fire danger as the FFMC, DC, and ISI approach these key threshold values. The Indonesian FDRS is now operated nationally at the Indonesian Meteorological and Geophysical Agency. The Malaysian Meteorological Service operates the Malaysian FDRS and displays regional outputs for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations. The FDRS are being used by forestry, agriculture, environment, and fire and rescue agencies to develop and implement fire prevention, detection, and suppression plans.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.


  1. Alexander ME (1989) Fiji adopts Canadian system of fire danger rating. Int For Fire News II(1):3

  2. Alexander ME, de Groot WJ (1988) Fire behavior in jack pine stands as related to the Canadian Forest Fire Weather Index (FWI) System. Can For Serv Edmonton, AB, poster w, text

  3. Anderson KR, Englefield P (2001) Quantile characteristics of forest fires in Saskatchewan. Proceedings of the Fourth Symposium on Fire and Forest Meteorology, Reno, NV, American Meteorological Society, Boston, pp MA, 9–16

  4. Anonymous (1999) Pilot Project: Planning for Fire Suppression Mobilization in Riau and South Sumatra Provinces, ASEAN RETA, Jakarta, 5778 Reg (unpubl.) 103p

  5. Anonymous (2001) Report on: Immediate Action Plan in West Kalimantan Province, Prevention and Monitoring Components, ASEAN Secretariat, Jakarta, (unpubl.) 24p

  6. Amiro BD, Todd JB, Wotton BM, Logan KA, Flannigan MD, Stocks BJ, Mason JA, Martell DL, Hirsch KG (2001) Direct carbon emissions from Canadian forest fires, 1959–1999 Can J For Res 31:512–525

    Article  Google Scholar 

  7. Applegate G, Chokkalingam U, Suyanto (2001) Underlying causes and impact of fires in Southeast Asia, Centre for International Forest Research, Bogor. Final Report (unpubl)

  8. Brenner J, Arvanitis LG, Brackett DP, Lee BS, Carr RJ, Suddaby RM (1997) Integrating GIS, meso-scale fire weather prediction, smoke plume dispersion modeling, and the internet for enhanced open burning authorizations and wildfire response in Florida. Proceedings of the GIS User's Conference,

  9. Buongiorno A, Arino O, Zehner C, Colagrande P, Goryl P (1997) ERS-2 monitors exceptional fire event in South-East Asia. Earth Observation Quarterly 56:1–5

    Google Scholar 

  10. Byram G (1959) Combustion of forest fuels. In: Davis KP (ed.), Forest fire: Control and Use McGraw-Hill, New York, pp 61–89

    Google Scholar 

  11. Cochrane MA (2003) Fire science for rainforests. Nature 421:913–919

    Article  Google Scholar 

  12. Deeming JE, Burgan RE, Cohen JD (1977) The National Fire Danger Rating System—1978, USDA For. Serv, Intermt For Range Exp. Stn, Ogden, Utah, Gen. Tech Rep INT-39

  13. de Groot WJ (1988) Interpreting the Canadian Forest Fire Weather Index (FWI) System. In: Hirsch KG (ed.), Proceedings of the Fourth Central Region Fire Weather Committee Scientific and Technical Seminar. Can For Serv, Edmonton, Alberta, Study NOR-36-03-1, File Rep 3, pp 3–14

  14. de Groot WJ (1989a) Development of Saskatchewan's Fire Suppression Preparedness System. In: Hirsch KG (ed.), Proceedings of the Sixth Central Region Fire Weather Committee Scientific and Technical Seminar, Can For Serv, Edmonton, Alberta, Study NOR-36-03-1, File Rep 5, pp 23–49

  15. de Groot WJ (1989b) Technology transfer in Saskatchewan: operational use of the Canadian Forest Fire Danger Rating System. In: MacIver DC, Auld H (eds.) Proceedings of the 10th Conference on Fire and Forest Meteorology, Atmos Environ Serv, Downsview, Ontario, pp 327–332

    Google Scholar 

  16. de Groot WJ, Bothwell PM, Carlsson DH, Logan KA (2003) Simulating the effects of future fire regimes on western Canadian boreal forests. J Veg Sci 14:355–364

    Article  Google Scholar 

  17. de Groot WJ, Field RD (2004) Southeast Asia Fire Danger Rating System Manual. Report to the Canadian International Development Agency. Canadian Forest Service, Edmonton, Alberta Unpubl File Report

    Google Scholar 

  18. de Groot WJ Wardati, Wang Y (2005) Calibrating the Fine Fuel Moisture Code for grass ignition potential in Sumatra, Indonesia. Int J Wildland Fire 14: 161–168

  19. Dymond CC, Roswintiarti O, Brady MA (2004) Characterizing and mapping fuels for Malaysia and western Indonesia. Int J Wildland Fire 13:323–334

    Article  Google Scholar 

  20. Dymond CC, Field RD, Roswintiarti O, Guswanto (2005) Using satellite fire detection to calibrate components of the Fire Weather Index System in Malaysia and Indonesia. Environ Manage 35:426–440

  21. Field RD, Wang Y, Roswintiarti O, Guswanto (2004) A drought-based predictor of recent haze events in western Indonesia. Atmos Environ 38:1869–1878

    Article  Google Scholar 

  22. Forestry Canada Fire Danger Group (1992) Development and structure of the Canadian Forest Fire Behavior Prediction System. Ottawa, ON, For Can, Rep ST-X-3

  23. Glover D, Jessup T (1999) Indonesia's fires and haze: the costs of a catastrophe, Singapore, Singapore Institute of Southeast Asian Studies. pp 149

    Google Scholar 

  24. Heil A, Goldammer JG (2001) Smoke-haze pollution: a review of the 1997 episode in Southeast Asia. Reg Environ Change 2:24–37

    Article  Google Scholar 

  25. Hirsch KG (1991) Development of an initial attack preparedness system for Manitoba. In: Andrews PL, Potts DF (eds.) Proceedings of the 11th Conference on Fire and Forest Meteorology, Bethesda, MD, Society of American Foresters, SAF Publ 91-04, pp 81–89

    Google Scholar 

  26. Hirsch KG (1998) Using expert judgment to model initial attack fire crew effectiveness. For Sci 44:539–549

    Google Scholar 

  27. Kiil AD, Quintilio D, Alexander ME (1986) Adaptation of a national system of fire danger rating in Alberta, Canada: a case study in technology transfer. Proceedings of the 18th IUFRO World Congress, Division 6: General Subjects, Vienna, Austria, International Union of Forest Research Organizations, pp 410–421

  28. Kita K, Fujiwara M, Kawakami S (2000) Total ozone increase associated with forest fires over the Indonesian region and its relation to the El Nińo–Southern Oscillation. Atmos Environ 34:2681–2690

    Article  Google Scholar 

  29. Kunii O, Kanagawa S, Yajima I, Hisamatsu Y, Yamamura S, Amagai T, Ismail ITS (2002) The 1997 haze disaster in Indonesia: its air quality and health effects. Arch Environ Health 57:16–22

    Article  Google Scholar 

  30. Lanoville RA, Mawdsley WM (1989) Systematic assessment of daily fire preparedness requirements. In: Alexander ME, Bisgrove GF (tech coord), The Art and Science of Fire Management – Proceedings of the First Interior West Fire Council Annual Meeting and Workshop, Edmonton, Alberta, Can For Serv, Inf Rep NOR-X-309, pp 253–261

  31. Lawson BD, Armitage OB, Dalrymple GN (1994) Ignition probabilities for simulated people-caused fires in British Columbia's lodgepole pine and white spruce-subalpine fir forests. Proceedings of the 12th International Conference on Fire and Forest Meteorology, Bethesda, MD, Society of American Foresters, SAF Publ 94-02, pp 493–505

  32. Lawson BD, Dalrymple GN (1996) Ground-truthing the Drought Code: field verification of overwinter recharge of forest floor moisture, Victoria, BC, Can For Serv, FRDA Rep 268

  33. Lawson BD, Frandsen WH, Hawkes BC, Dalrymple GN (1997) Probability of sustained smoldering ignition for some boreal forest duff types. Edmonton, Alberta, Can For Serv, For Manage Note 63 pp 11

  34. Lee BS, Alexander ME, Hawkes BC, Lynham TJ, Stocks BJ, Englefield P (2002) Information systems in support of wildland fire management decision making in Canada. Computers and Electronics in Agriculture 37:185–198

    Article  Google Scholar 

  35. Levine JS (1999) The 1997 fires in Kalimantan and Sumatra, Indonesia: Gaseous and particulate emissions. Geophys Res Lett 26:815–818

    Article  Google Scholar 

  36. Luke RH, McArthur AG (1978) Bushfires in Australia, Canberra, CSIRO Div. For Res, Australian Gov Publ Serv

  37. Martell DL, Otukal S, Stocks BJ (1987) A logistic model for predicting daily people-caused forest fire occurrence in Ontario. Can J For Res 17:394–401

    Google Scholar 

  38. McAlpine RS (1991) Seasonal trends in the Drought Code component of the Canadian Forest Fire Weather Index System, Petawawa, ON, For Can, Inf Rep PI-X-97

  39. Merrill DF, Alexander ME (1987) Glossary of Forest Fire Management Terms, Fourth Edition, Ottawa, ON, Natl Res Counc Can, NRCC No. 26516

  40. National Rural Fire Authority (1993) Fire Weather Index Tables for New Zealand, Wellington, National Rural Fire Authority

  41. Page SE, Siegert F, Rieley JO, Beohm HDV, Jaya A, Limin S (2002) The amount of carbon released from peat and forest fires in Indonesia during 1997. Nature 420:61–65

    Article  Google Scholar 

  42. Paul PM (1969) Field Practices in Forest Fire Danger Rating, Ottawa, ON, Can For Serv, Inf Rep FF-X-20

  43. Pickford S, Suharti M, Wibowo A (1992) A note on fuelbeds and fire behavior in alang-alang (Imperata cylindrica). Int J Wildland Fire 2:41–46

    Article  Google Scholar 

  44. Qadri ST (ed.) (2001) Fire, Smoke, and Haze: The ASEAN Response Strategy. Manila, Asian Development Bank and Association of Southeast Asia Nations

  45. Quintilio D, Van Nest TA, Murphy PJ, Woodard PM (1990) Determining production rates of initial attack crews. In: Alexander ME, Bisgrove GF (tech coord), The Art and Science of Fire Management – Proceedings of the First Interior West Fire Council Annual Meeting and Workshop, Edmonton, AB, Can For Serv, Inf Rep NOR-X-309, pp 105–113

  46. Russell RN, Pech G (1968) Development of Burning Index Tables for White Spruce-Alpine Fir and Lodgepole Pine Forest Covertypes in the Prince George Forest District (An Establishment and Progress Report), Victoria, BC, Dep Forestry and Rural Development, Forestry Branch, Int Rep BC-8

  47. San-Miguel-Ayanz J, Barbosa P, Liberta G, Schmuck G, Schulte E, Bucella P (2003) The European Forest Fire Information System: a European Strategy Towards Forest Fire Management. Proceedings of the 3rd International Wildland Fire Conference, Sydney, Australia. Washington, D C, U S Dep Interior, Bur Land Management CD-ROM

  48. Sastry N (2002) Forest fires, air pollution, and mortality in Southeast Asia. Demography 39:1–23

    Google Scholar 

  49. Siegert F, Ruecker G, Hinrichs A, Hoffmann AA (2001) Increased damage from fires in logged forests during droughts caused by El Nińo. Nature 414:437–440

    Article  Google Scholar 

  50. Stocks BJ, Fosberg MA, Lynham TJ, Mearns L, Wotton BM, Yang Q, Jin J-Z, Lawrence K, Hartley GR, Mason JA, McKenney DW (1998) Climate change and forest fire potential in Russian and Canadian boreal forests. Clim Change 38:1–13

    Article  Google Scholar 

  51. Stocks BJ, Lawson BD, Alexander ME, Van Wagner CE, McAlpine RS, Lynham TJ, Dube DE (1989) Canadian Forest Fire Danger Rating System: an overview. For Chron 65:258–265

    Google Scholar 

  52. Stolle F, Lambin EF (2003) Interprovincial and interannual differences in the causes of land-use fires in Sumatra, Indonesia. Environ Conservation 30(4):375–387

    Google Scholar 

  53. Stott PA, Goldammer JG, Werner WL (1990) The role of fire in the tropical lowland deciduous forests of Asia. In: Goldammer JG (ed), Fire in the Tropical Biota: Ecosystem Processes and Challenges, New York, Springer-Verlag, pp 32–44

    Google Scholar 

  54. Taylor SW, Armitage OB (1993) Prescribed Fire Emissions Predictor – Version 1.00. User guide, Documentation and Evaluation, Victoria, BC, For Can, File Rep (unpubl.)

  55. Turner JA, Lawson BD (1978) Weather in the Canadian Forest Fire Danger Rating System: a User Guide to National Standards and Practices, Can For Serv, Inf Rep BC-X-177

  56. Van Wagner CE (1987) Development and Structure of the Canadian Forest Fire Weather Index System, Ottawa, ON, Can For Serv, Tech Rep 35

  57. Van Wagner CE, Pickett TL (1985) Equations and FORTRAN Program for the Canadian Forest Fire Weather Index System, Ottawa, ON, Can For Serv Tech Rep 33

  58. Wang Y, Field RD, Roswintiarti O (2004) Trends in atmospheric haze induced by peat fires in Sumatra Island, Indonesia and El Nińo phenomenon from 1973 to 2003. Geophys Res Lett 31:L04103 doi: 10.1029/2003GL018853

Download references

Author information



Corresponding author

Correspondence to William J. de Groot.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Groot, W.J.d., Field, R.D., Brady, M.A. et al. Development of the Indonesian and Malaysian Fire Danger Rating Systems. Mitig Adapt Strat Glob Change 12, 165 (2007).

Download citation


  • Early warning
  • Fire behaviour
  • Fire danger
  • Fire management
  • Fire prevention
  • Fire weather
  • Forest and land fires
  • Transboundary haze