Networks can also be a useful way of modeling the spread of a wildfire. A landscape can be divided into cells and the midpoints of the cells form the nodes of the network. Arcs connect nodes to their neighbors and the weight on an arc represents the time a fire takes to travel between nodes, based on landscape and weather characteristics. Thus, we have applied network interdiction to the problem of allocating resources to a landscape prior to a fire in order to prevent fire outbreak.
A former Ph.D. student of mine has developed an integer programming model for computing the worst-case vulnerability of a fire. He also examined how to mitigate against pyro-attacks and how to model pyro-terror vulnerability with an explicit initial response phase model. This work was funded by the Department of Homeland Security.
I am also working on a paper on using mixed-integer programming to design incentive structures to encourage private landowners to take fuels reduction actions on their lands to prevent the spread of fires. This work is funded by the Joint Fire Science Program. In the future I will continue to seek funding from the Joint Fire Science Program on a yearly basis for topics centering on the idea of using network interdiction to manage wildfires.
Another former Ph.D. student of mine has developed an approach for optimally locating satellite ground stations to maximize the data collected in the aftermath of a wildfire. He has also studied how to optimize satellite orbits in order to detect wildfires and gather data. In the future I plan to seek funding from the National Science Foundation for this work.
A maximal covering location-based model for analyzing the vulnerability of landscapes to wildfires: Assessing the worst-case scenario
Eghbal Rashidi, Hugh Medal, Jason Gordon, Robert Grala, Morgan Varner.
European Journal of Operational Research, Volume 258, Issue 3, Pages 1095–1105
Publication Year: 2017
[Link to Article]
In this research, we study the vulnerability of landscapes to wildfires based on the impact of the worst-case scenario ignition locations. Using this scenario, we model wildfires that cause the largest damage to a landscape over a given time horizon. The landscape is modeled as a grid network, and the spread of wildfire is modeled using the minimum travel time model. To assess the impact of a wildfire in the worst-case scenario, we develop a mathematical programming model to optimally locate the ignition points so that the resulting wildfire results in the maximum damage. We compare the impacts of the worst-case wildfires (with optimally located ignition points) with the impacts of wildfires with randomly located ignition points on three landscape test cases clipped out from three national forests located in the western U.S. Our results indicate that the worst-case wildfires, on average, have more than twice the impact on landscapes than wildfires with randomly located ignition points.
An attacker-defender model for analyzing the vulnerability of initial attack in wildfire suppression
Rashidi, E., Medal, H., and Hoskins, A..
Submitted to Naval Research Logistics 65(2), 120–134.
Publication Year: 2018
Mitigating a pyro-terror attack using fuel management
Rashidi, E. and Medal, H..
submitted to IIE Transactions
Publication Year: 2016
Mitigating a pyro-terror attack using fuel management
Eghbal Rashidi, Hugh Medal.
To appear in IISE Transactions.
Publication Year: 2018 Abstract
We study a security problem in which an adversary seeks to attack a landscape by setting a wildfire in a strategic location, whereas wildfire managers wish to mitigate the damage of the attack by implementing a fuel treatment in the landscape. We model the problem as a min–max Stackelberg game with the goal of identifying an optimal fuel treatment plan that minimizes the impact of a pyro-terror attack. As the adversary's problem is discrete, we use a decomposition algorithm suitable for integer bi-level programs. We test our model on three test landscape cases located in the Western United States. The results indicate that fuel treatment can effectively mitigate the effects of an attack: implementing fuel treatment on 2, 5, and 10% of the landscape, on average, reduces the damage caused by a pyro-terror attack by 14, 27, and 43%, respectively. The resulting fuel treatment plan is also effective in mitigating natural wildfires with randomly placed ignition points. The pyro-terrorism mitigation problem studied in this article is equivalent to the b-interdiction-covering problem where the intermediate nodes are subject to interdiction. It can also be interpreted as the problem of identifying the b-most-vital nodes in a one-to-all shortest path problem.
Benefits and costs of implementing fuel treatments on nonindustrial private forest (NIPF) lands in Mississippi Agency: Joint Fire Science Program (Department of the Interior, Bureau of Land Management) Researchers: Grala, R.K, Varner, J.M., Medal, H.R. (Co-PI), Munn, I.A., Grado, S.C., Cooke III, W.H. Amount: $218,000 ($46,513 Medal share)
/wp-content/themes/awp-enfold/blank.png00Academic Web Pages/wp-content/themes/awp-enfold/blank.pngAcademic Web Pages2020-06-09 18:44:492020-06-09 19:42:39Benefits and costs of implementing fuel treatments on nonindustrial private forest (NIPF) lands in Mississippi
Agency:Department of Homeland Security via the National Center for Risk and Economic Analysis of Terrorism Events (CREATE) Researchers: Medal, H.R. (PI), Gordon, J., Grala, R.K. Amount: $24,991 ($24,991 Medal share) Website: CREATE project
/wp-content/themes/awp-enfold/blank.png00Academic Web Pages/wp-content/themes/awp-enfold/blank.pngAcademic Web Pages2020-06-09 18:43:432020-06-10 19:28:25Pyro-terrorism risk assessment and management: a pilot study
Agency: Department of Homeland Security via the National Center for Risk and Economic Analysis of Terrorism Events (CREATE) Researchers: Medal, H.R. (PI), Gordon, J., Grala, R.K. Amount: $49,967 ($45,311 Medal share) Website:CREATE project Abstract:
This project is the second component of the FY15 CREATE project entitled “Pyro-terrorism risk assessment and management: A pilot study,” which was given development funding. The goal of this pilot study was to determine if there was evidence that pyro-terrorism is a risk deserving of further study. Thus far, we have found that 1) several pieces of evidence indicate that the likelihood of pyro-terrorism in the United States is non-negligible, and 2) the intentional setting of multiple wildfires simultaneously can have a much larger impact than a single wildfire. Our work also brought us into contact with the research of Randy Wilson at the Mississippi Forestry Commission, which demonstrates that 1) several factors indicate pyro-terrorism is a real possibility, and 2) a coordinated pyro-terrorism attack could overwhelm emergency response resources. Due to the evidence that pyro-terrorism is an important risk, we propose to expand upon our original risk assessment by performing a quantitative gap analysis of fire suppression risk. This gap analysis will help analyze the risk of both pyro-terrorism and conventional wildland fires.
/wp-content/themes/awp-enfold/blank.png00Academic Web Pages/wp-content/themes/awp-enfold/blank.pngAcademic Web Pages2020-06-09 18:42:452020-06-10 19:26:51A gap analysis of wildland fire response resources in the United States
Dr. Hugh Medal Assistant Professor Industrial & Systems Engineering
Medal Research Group
The University of Tennessee, Knoxville
Industrial and Systems Engineering
518 John D. Tickle Building