EGU General Assembly 2023
© Author(s) 2023. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Current Operational Implementation of the Canadian Forest Fire Weather Index System in the Republic of Ireland

Klara Finkele1, Padraig Flattery2, Ciaran Nugent3, and Paul Downes4
Klara Finkele et al.
  • 1Met Eireann, Ireland (
  • 2Met Eireann, Ireland (
  • 3Forest Service, Department of Agriculture, Food and Marine, Dublin, Forestry Division Ireland (
  • 4Met Eireann, Ireland (

Since 2006 the Canadian Forest Fire Weather Index System (FWI) has been employed operationally at Met Éireann to predict the risk of forest fires in Ireland (Walsh, S, 2006). Around 11% or 770,000 ha of the total land area of Ireland is afforested, but there are also large areas of open mountain and peatlands covered in grasses, dwarf-shrub and larger woody shrub type vegetation which can provide fuel for spring wildfires under suitable conditions. Following winter, vegetation can be dead or have a very low live moisture content, and the flammability of this vegetation can be readily influenced by prevailing weather, especially following prolonged dry periods.

The Department of Agriculture, Food and Marine is the Forest Protection authority in Ireland responsible for issuing Fire Danger Notices. These notices improve preparedness for fire responses and are based on information provided by Met Éireann who calculate the FWI and FWI components using observation data at synoptic stations, and the predicted FWI for the next five days ahead based on numerical weather prediction data.

The FWI is determined based on the types of forest fuel and how quickly they dry out/get rewetted, and components of fire behaviour. The FWI represents the fire intensity as the rate of energy per unit length of fire front (kW/m). The components which provide the most accurate indication of risk under Irish conditions are the Fine Fuel Moisture Code and Initial Spread Index, based on the fuels involved and ignition patterns observed to date. Since 2022 Met Eireann provide the FWI as well as the individual components Fine Fuel Moisture Content and Initial Spread Index via the public website for synoptic stations. These indices are based on observations and a seven-day forecast into the future using ECMWF predictions. This allows all county councils responsible for wildfire preparedness to access this information swiftly and directly.

Met Éireann also use the ANYWHERE multi-hazard warning tool which allows for visualisation of multiple fire-related risk factors and warning indices to be viewed simultaneously. The ANYWHERE system, in combination with our station-based forecast and antecedent conditions, provide fire managers and response teams with excellent information with which to make decisions. 

How to cite: Finkele, K., Flattery, P., Nugent, C., and Downes, P.: Current Operational Implementation of the Canadian Forest Fire Weather Index System in the Republic of Ireland, EGU General Assembly 2023, Vienna, Austria, 24–28 Apr 2023, EGU23-7853,, 2023.