Australia: Better fire danger ratings

Source(s): Bushfire and Natural Hazards Cooperative Research Centre

The latest fire science, including Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC research, has been used to develop the pilot National Fire Danger Rating System. The update currently underway is the first major update to the system since it was devised in the 1960s. 

Initially developed as CRC research after a recommendation from the 2009 Victorian Bushfires Royal Commission, support from the Commonwealth government led to the successful transition from a collection of CRC-managed research, to a fully owned and developed prototype system managed by the industry for the benefits of the community.

The new National Fire Danger Rating System prototype was trialled by the New South Wales Rural Fire Service over summer 2017/2018 to better incorporate extreme fire behaviour. The revised system will be more comprehensive, providing a greater ability to understand and predict localised fire danger risk with greater scientific accuracy, rather than applying the same fire danger across large areas, as is currently the case. In coming years when the revised system is in operation around Australia, all fire agencies will be able to better predict bushfire danger, leading to better warnings, more efficient use and distribution of firefighting resources, improved community awareness of risk, and increased safety for both firefighters and the community. 

The CRC has contributed contemporary science to the prototype system on fire weather, vegetation conditions, fire behaviour, ignition likelihood, fire suppression, fire impact, risk communication, urban planning, decision-making and mitigation. 

The trial of the prototype is a significant demonstration of the successful utilisation of CRC research into the sector: CRC partners AFAC and the NSW Rural Fire Service now own the ongoing use of the research outputs. As the new system is piloted and integrated into the sector, the CRC will continue to play a critical role, providing vital science and evidence that underpins the new system. 

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