(IFFN No. 11 – July 1994, p.30)

Professor Nikolai Petrovich Kurbatsky, a well-knownRussian forest fire scientist, Dr. Sci. Agr., a highly competent specialist inforestry and forest inventory, died on 18 February 1994.

In 1949 N.P. Kurbatsky established a Forest FireProtection Department affiliated to the St. Petersburg Institute of Forestry.This was one of the earliest forest fire research institutions established inRussia. N.P.Kurbatsky’s department became the leading scientific and technicalcenter focusing on the development of methods and equipment for forest firecontrol.

In 1959, N.P. Kurbatsky moved from St. Petersburg toKrasnoyarsk, Siberia, and founded a Forest Fire Research Laboratory in the V.N.Sukachev Institute of Forest, Siberian Branch, Russian Academy of Sciences. Intime, the Laboratory grew to become a large and important scientific center offorest fire investigations. N.P. Kurbatsky contributed much to forest firescience. He was the author of a theory of forest fire occurrence, spread andgrowth, including forest fire danger factors, and fire and forest fuelclassifications; he systematized the main forest fire concepts and terms,developed the strategic line of forest fire protection progress in our country,and worked on many other problems. As to practical application of scientificfindings, he was deeply engaged in developing fire-fighting techniques by waterbombing and chemical retardants. He gave very valuable recommendations on how tocontain fires using explosives and backfire or by distributing fire breaks overa forest area. Problems of fire fighting tactics never fell out of his area ofinterest. N.P. Kurbatsky’s original ideas were based upon when developing “Recommendationson Forest Fire Detection and Fighting” (Gosleskhoz 1976), which still enjoywide use in forest fire protection activities.

N.P. Kurbatsky summarized his experience of working onproblems of forest fire protection in his monograph titled “Techniques andTactics of Forest Fire Fighting”; the monograph is nowadays very popularamong fire scientists. Soon after it has been finished, the monograph wastranslated and published abroad.

The results of his investigations in the field offorest fires allowed him to successfully defend his doctor’s thesis on”Fires in the Taiga Forests. Patterns of Their Occurrence and Growth”in 1966. In 1968, N.P. Kurbatsky was conferred a Professor’s degree. He is theauthor of more than 150 papers which made him widely recognized as a highlyprofessional specialist, both in Russia and abroad. His life and activity showthat he was a big scientist and the founder of forest pyrology.

N.P. Kurbatsky was a brilliant teacher. He was theleader of the school of Siberian forest fire scientists that includes threeDoctors and many masters. He was not simply the supervisor of young specialists’work, but had a talent to deeply understand their problems and could find waysto cope with any difficulties, however big they were. Successes of his pupilsalways filled his heart with real happiness. Forest fire scientists of differentgenerations currently working at the V.N. Sukachev Institute of Forest are N.P.Kurbatsky’s followers. Up to the very last days of his life N.P. Kurbatskycontinued to work on the problems of forest pyrology. Shortly before his deathhe had finished his last book dealing with the history of forest fire science inRussia, as well as with the policies of forest fire protection practiced in thiscountry.

All N.P. Kurbatsky’s pupils and followers will alwayshave the brightest memories of him in their hearts.

Valentin Furyaev and Peter Tzvetkov
Forest Fire Laboratory, Institute of Forest
Siberian Branch, Russian Academy of Sciences
RU – 660036 Krasnoyarsk

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