Pilot on Wildfires in the Aragon Region – Spain



Overall Policy Objective:

Improving the design of fire emergency policies taking into account the effects of fire-related smoke.

The Context.

Forest fires have increased significantly in Aragon in the last two decades, both in their number and in the area burnt by these fires. In addition to the alert caused by the fire itself, there are usually also emergency situations due to the smoke related to the fire. This smoke affects both the population in the vicinity of the fire and the resources working to extinguish it. Currently, the Directorate General of Natural Environment and Forest Management of the Department of Agriculture, Livestock and Environment of the Government of Aragon manages a series of indicators, such as the Fire Risk Index or the Forest Fire Danger Alert Level, which allow it to predict the probability of a certain surface area being involved in a fire, as well as its possible magnitude. Complementing this system with a prediction of the evolution of the smoke associated with a fire would make possible – with the associated management policies – to anticipate in good time the possible evacuation of the foreseeably affected populations and to design and establish safety perimeters that, depending on the equipment of the fire extinguishing units, would make it possible to minimise the risks of these units.

Pilot Description:

The Pilot will use the Flexpart tool https://www.flexpart.eu/ to simulate the evolution of smoke in each of the fires occurring in the autonomous community of Aragon. This free and open source tool is a Lagrangian transport and dispersion model suitable for the simulation of a large range of atmospheric transport processes. Apart from transport and turbulent diffusion, it is able to simulate dry and wet deposition, decay, linear chemistry; it can be used in forward or backward mode, with defined sources or in a domain-filling setting. It can be used from local to global scale. However, it is just as important to obtain good simulations of the evolution of smoke as it is to apply the appropriate management policies to establish the necessary channels for the evacuation of the population if necessary. To this end, the pilot, relying on other data sources such as those from Aragón Open Data, meteorological data, population data, cartographic data, historical fire data, etc. and on the simulations obtained by Flexpart, will design protocols to inform the population of the appropriate measures to be taken in each particular case (also taking into account individual characteristics such as personal mobility). DECIDO will be the platform on which the different stakeholders will rely when designing information and evacuation policies for the public in the event of an emergency related to fire smoke.

Co-creation and engagement:

In order for the pilot to be useful to target groups, their contribution is essential. We will develop co-creating workshops in which we will gather information and requirements from all the stakeholders, in particular, we have identified the following target groups:

Affected citizens:

Citizen living in risks zones in Aragon

Fire-fighters, to use the data for a better management of a safe fire extinction.

Policy Makers and local authorities, to use the information provided by the pilot.

General public, to be aware if they are near a risk zone related to fire-smoke.

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