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.

Selected Publications

  1. 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
  2. Mitigating a pyro-terror attack using fuel management
    Eghbal Rashidi, Hugh Medal. To appear in IISE Transactions.
    Publication Year: 2018
    Abstract
  3. 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
    [PDF]   [Link to Article] Abstract
  4. Mitigating a pyro-terror attack using fuel management
    Rashidi, E. and Medal, H.. submitted to IIE Transactions
    Publication Year: 2016

Funding

Benefits and costs of implementing fuel treatments on nonindustrial private forest (NIPF) lands in Mississippi

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)

Pyro-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: $24,991 ($24,991 Medal share)
Website: CREATE project

A gap analysis of wildland fire response resources in the United States

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.