Where There’s Smoke, There’s...Mark Finney

Mark Finney joins the PINC stage!

Mark Finney is a Research Forester and US Forest Service fire expert. Since 1993, he has worked at the Rocky Mountain Research Station Missoula Fire Sciences Laboratory in Montana. Mark leads a fire behavior research team to discover fundamental physical explanations for wild land fire behavior using laboratory and field-scale experiences. (Basically, he's entitled to start fires and even gets paid for it.) "Not bad; don't you think?"

Did you know that fighting forest fires by man enlarges the risk of having more wildfires? It's a little-known truth Mark calls 'the fire paradox.' "Extinguishing 10 to 20 small fires will leave lots of potential fuel on the ground for a new, much bigger fire," he explains.

It's tidbits like this that make Mark an interesting storyteller. His unique insight on smoke, fire and landscape fuel management has led to new developments, including the transfer of existing fire models to the national internet-based Wildland Fire Decision Support System. With his fire behavior research team, he discovered a new mechanism of a spreading fire. It's not radiant heat, as always thought, that spreads a fire in a forest. Instead, it's the convection of hot air that sets leaves on the ground, small twigs and bushes on fire. This is crucial information in an era with growing amounts of wildfires.

We can't wait to hear more from Mark Finney at this year's PINC!