The Bushfire CRC will work with the Attorney General’s department and the various Australian states and territories to develop science to underpin a new fire danger rating system with new funds announced by the Australian Government.
The Attorney-General, Mr Robert McClelland, has announced that the Australian Government will invest $3.6 million under the National Emergency Management Program this financial year to assist Australian communities better prepare for, respond to and recover from natural disasters and emergencies.
Included among several projects to be funded under the Program this year, is the development of a new fire danger rating system for Australia to assist fire agencies better plan for and respond to fires.
The Bushfire CRC has appointed a project manager to oversee the National Fire Danger Rating Review and Research Project.
Australian fire-fighting authorities currently use Forest and Grass Fire Danger Indexes (FDI) to assess the risk of fire. The FDI describes the conditions that allow fires to start and continue burning, but does not account for all fire risk factors. For example, topography, fuel availability and fire location are not taken into account in FDI calculations. For this reason, the FDI cannot give a complete account of potential fire danger for making risk management and fire fighting decisions.
The final goal of the National Fire Danger Rating Review and Research Project is to implement a new, scientifically based, fire danger rating system. The system will be spatially explicit and include elements to reflect the potential for damage in addition to weather indices.
The new fire danger rating system will use a series of discrete modules to calculate aspects of fire risk. These modules will measure:
- fire weather indices, such as landscape moisture and atmospheric conditions
- fire behaviour indices, such as terrain and fuel characteristics
- fire damage indices, such as measures of vulnerability and extent of exposure to fire
- ignition factors, such as fire history and ignition mechanisms, and
- social factors, such as the potential impact of fire on communications and the community.