A suite of potential bushfire/wildfire research projects has been identified by Australian, New Zealand and United States researchers and fire managers.
The joint project proposals focus on the areas of community safety and situational awareness, building planning and fire behaviour, as they relate to fire management before, during and after a bushfire or wildfire.
These proposals are an outcome of the United States-Australasian fire research symposium Fire in the Interface. Participants with specific expert knowledge were invited to the symposium to discuss the current state of knowledge, issues confronting communities and fire fighters, and the gaps in knowledge for addressing fire within the area that has the greatest threat to life and property – the heavily vegetated residential communities, also known and the rural-urban or wildland-urban interface.
More than 40 invited Australian, New Zealand and United States researchers, practitioners and policy-makers gathered in Melbourne and Canberra from 14-18 June 2010 for the research symposium.
The meeting was organised by the Bushfire Cooperative Research Centre in conjunction with the departments of Prime Minister and Cabinet, and Attorney General in Australia, and the Department of Homeland Security in the United States
The aim of the symposium was to share knowledge on fire risk on the rural-urban interface and to explore areas for collaborative research projects in fire behaviour, rural-urban interface planning and community safety. The meeting acknowledged the many research projects currently addressing various parts of this issue and there was substantial agreement in the value of linking the work of researchers internationally.
Significant outcomes of the symposium included:
- The identification of areas of common interest that require new knowledge through research.
- The exposure of leading researchers and fire managers to a broader understanding of managing fire on the rural-urban interface.
- The development of ongoing cooperative links across rural and urban fire managers from all participating countries, and between researchers from a wide range of academic disciplines.
- The involvement and ongoing commitment to a high level of interest from key national and state government departments, in Australia, New Zealand and the United States.
The next step will be to more fully develop the research proposals and seek appropriate funding mechanisms to support the international collaboration.
The symposium met in Melbourne on Monday 14 June and spent the last part of the week in Canberra, including meeting in Parliament House. The group visited the areas devastated in the 2009 February Black Saturday fires in Victoria and the suburbs of Canberra burnt in 2003.