Encyclopedia of Wildfires and Wildland-Urban Interface (WUI) Fires

Living Edition
| Editors: Samuel L. Manzello

Ignition Devices

  • Shawn M. SteberEmail author
Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-51727-8_202-1



Tools used to ignite a fire. They can range in size from a handheld fusee to helicopter-mounted helitorches. The common devices used are detailed below.



A handheld flare device that allows an operator to ignite vegetation with the flame or molten material.


A fusee is a handheld ignition device that is similar to a road flare. Fusees create a high-temperature flame and molten material that drips as the fusee burns. They are used to ignite light vegetation and are often carried by firefighters as an emergency device in the event that they need to burn an area in an entrapment, emergency, or burnover situation. In the USA, specific instructions for their use and safety precautions are given by NWCG (2019b).


The fusee (Fig.  1) is a self-contained ignition device with a tube-shaped body, typically with a total length of about 13 inches (33 cm) and 1 inch (2.5 cm) in diameter (USDA 2009b). It is ignited by...
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  1. National Wildfire Coordinating Group (NWCG) (2018) NWCG standards for aerial ignition, PMS 501, Boise, pp 8–18, 19–41Google Scholar
  2. National Wildfire Coordinating Group (NWCG) (2019a) NWCG standards for transporting fuel, PMS 442, Boise, pp 14–15, 31–35Google Scholar
  3. National Wildfire Coordinating Group (NWCG) (2019b) NWCG standards for ground ignition equipment, PMS 443, Boise, pp 17–32, 49–54, 61–72, 93–120Google Scholar
  4. USDA Forest Service (2008) Specification, drip torch – extended burner (diesel and gasoline mixture), 5100-616, Missoula, 8pGoogle Scholar
  5. USDA Forest Service (2009a) Specification, drip torch (diesel and gasoline mixture), 5100-614A, Missoula, 8pGoogle Scholar
  6. USDA Forest Service (2009b) Specification, fusee, backfiring, 5100-360F, Missoula, 11pGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© This is a U.S. Government work and not under copyright protection in the U.S.; foreign copyright protection may apply 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.National Technology and Development ProgramUSDA Forest ServiceMissoulaUSA

Section editors and affiliations

  • Sara McAllister
    • 1
  1. 1.USDA Forest ServiceRMRS Missoula Fire Sciences LaboratoryMissoulaUSA