Better knowledge, more information, safer communities - making better decisions with regards to wildfire impact and risk assessment.
The 2009 Victorian Bushfires Royal Commission identified a need for a tool to assess the potential bushfire impacts on rural and peri-urban communities. This tool would respond to immediate threats and also examine possible extreme scenarios that may pose a future threat.
To fill this void, the Bushfire CRC has initiated a research project – known as FIRE-Decision Support Tool (DST) involving a large collaborative effort. The tool will assist fire and land management authorities to develop appropriate fire impact and risk treatment options at local/regional/national levels.
In the first three years of the project, the focus will be to construct, develop and validate a prototype wildfire simulation system with the long-term aim to make FIRE-DST an operational tool. The immediate research and development focus is on the estimation of the consequences of extreme fires based on the characteristics of vegetation, extreme fire weather, fire-spread, and smoke production and dispersion.
The research will be validated by considering three case study scenarios of actual bushfires. After the first three years FIRE-DST will be evaluated by end-users (land management and fire agencies). Following acceptance by agencies, the plan is to implement robust computer software and hardware practices with the aim to make FIRE-DST operational so that it can address potential bushfire response in near real-time.
FIRE DST will achieve its goals by managing the development of the science in well defined activities, some entailing multiple tasks.
The table (below left) shows the functional research, extension and management areas within the project and the research provider responsible for each of them. Most of the activities involve the development of new science, while some focus on software engineering, model integration, communication and management.
The figure (below right ) shows a flow diagram of the project activities defined within broad categories; risk drivers, fire hazard, fire mitigation, fire vulnerability and impact, risk quantification and use and communication of the outputs. The figure depicts the project ‘core’ activities. ‘Secondary’ activities to be undertaken mainly by PhD students, are unlikely to have their outputs included in the FIRE-DST within the first three years
The 2009 Victorian Bushfires Royal Commission identified a need to improve the ability to assess the potential impacts of bushfires on rural and urban/rural interface communities. This need related to both an immediate threat and possible extreme scenarios involving future threat.
The FireDST project used the fire behaviour modelling from the PHOENIX RapidFire bushfire simulator. PHOENIX RapidFire had been developed as part of the original Bushfire CRC as a proof of concept tool. However, it had been applied operationally with limited formal validation and assessment.
At the start of the FireDST project, the remarkable skill improvements in numerical weather prediction in the previous decade had not yet delivered an operational forecast system that could help predict fire behaviour.
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