Risk Assessment and Decision Making


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.

Research Plan

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

[Click images to expand]

FIRE DST functional areas    

Projects in this group

Geoscience Australia has the lead responsibility for the development of the computational risk assessment framework and simulation system, which is initially aimed for use as a planning tool to model fire scenarios.

FIRE-DST is being developed to provide critical fire planning information to emergency...

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The PHOENIX RapidFire fire-spread model was largely developed as part of the initial seven-year Bushfire CRC (2003-2010).

PHOENIX has been implemented operationally in Victoria where every reported fire is automatically simulated to see its potential spread in the next six hours, including the possible...

The Bureau of Meteorology (BoM) produces weather forecasts on a 24/7 basis for the Australia region. During the fire season provide direct and timely information for the fire and emergency services community.

What will FIRE-DST do that will add to the weather information already available?

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CSIRO Marine and Atmospheric Research is developing the smoke plume model within FIRE-DST and examining smoke dispersion, visibility concerns and estimating impacts on human health.

CSIRO is investigating smoke impacts on regional health from both severe events and the prescribed burning programs designed to...

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During the initial 7-years of the Bushfire CRC, a considerable amount of work was undertaken by CSIRO Ecosystem Science in quantifying the physical attributes of buildings and their surroundings in a way to help predict probable damage or loss in a bushfire. At the same time, the University of Melbourne developed...

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