Prometheus enables fire authorities to determine the likely spread and impact a wildfire can have on the rural landscape.



Prometheus is a Canadian wildland fire growth simulation model based on the Fire Weather Index (FWI) and Fire Behaviour Prediction (FBP) sub-systems of the Fire Danger Rating System. The model computes fire behaviour and spread outputs given fuel, topography and weather conditions. All spatial outputs are compatible with Geographic Information Systems.

Rather than develop a new model, the adaptation of an existing model to New Zealand conditions was seen as the most appropriate way forward. Prometheus was reprogrammed to incorporate the New Zealand fire danger rating (FWI System) inputs, fuel types and fire behaviour models in early 2010. This project was achieved through the financial support and collaborative efforts with DOC, Scion and Alberta Sustainable Resource Development.

Fire growth simulation models such as Prometheus have a wide range of potential uses. Three key activities can be undertaken using simulation models as a decision-support tool in New Zealand. These include:

  • Aiding development of suppression strategies during wildfire events that consider public and fire fighter safety (e.g., evacuations, location of fire crews) and values at risk;
  • As a planning tool prior to fire events to assess the potential risk of fire spread, and for use in “what if” scenarios such as assessing fuel management effects; and
  • As a post-fire assessment tool, such as for determining the effectiveness of fire suppression operations and values saved.



Prometheus 6.0.0 was released on September 8, 2014. You can freely download the latest version online. Please read the important installation instructions before running. Some training is required on how to use Prometheus. Contact the rural fire research team for more information.

Other additional software to install:

  • Google Earth ( )
  • WindNinja 2.4.0 ( )
  • R 3.1.1 ( )
  • Power point, word doc, excel, adobe PDF


2014 Prometheus course

This year, the Rural Fire Research team are running two three day courses in late September/October on “Becoming an expert Prometheus user”.  We have secured two Canadian instructors for the course, who are the original and current programmers for the Prometheus software. The courses are hands on, running fire growth simulations for various applications. 

Course participants are expected to have either a basic GIS background or good fire behaviour knowledge (i.e. US 4648), or preferably both.  However, it may be possible for two participants from the same organisation/region to work in pairs during the course, although this is not necessary.  For this reason, it would also be useful for Regional Fire Committees to consider nominations on an area/regional basis.

Pre-course assignment and information will be sent out a two weeks before the course.  Course participants will be expected to complete homework assignments (approx. 30mins) to reinforce learning.

It is also desirable for course participants to bring a laptop, so that the latest Prometheus software can be installed (minimum computing requirements & software will be provided at a later date); although this is not essential as some computers will be provided at each course.

We have a limited number of places (approx. 16) available on each course, so please get in touch with Veronica ASAP:

Nominations for the 2014 courses have closed.


Course objectives:

  • An understanding of the Prometheus model, the input requirement and output formats
  • How to build and run scenarios
  • An understanding of the various functions within Prometheus, and how to modify these settings
  • An awareness of the applications and uses of Prometheus
  • An understanding of the “art and science” of fire growth modelling, including the assumptions, limitations and sources of error


South Island Course:

  • Start: Tuesday 30th September, 8:30am & Finish: Thursday 2nd October, 5pm. 
  • Venue:  Woolston Fire Training Center; 9 Olds Place, Woolston; Christchurch  

North Island Course:

  • Start:  Tuesday 7th October 8:30am, and finishing Thursday 9th October, 5pm
  • Venue: NZFS National Training Centre, 67-97 Te Huaki Crescent, Rotokawa (Eastgate Business Park)