March 2009

Created date

Sunday, March 1, 2009 - 10:00pm
  •         Research Taskforce - In the field
  •         Research Taskforce – US connection
  •         New CRC bid
  •         Research Adoption Plan
  •         Next Stakeholder Council Meeting
  •         Visitor - Minister
  •         Visitors - US visit
  •         Our Fulbright scholar

      Following the catastrophic bushfire events of 7th February 2009 the Bushfire CRC, with the Victorian fire agencies with responsibilities for these fires, CFA and DSE, developed a research response to these events using the Bushfire CRC research teams with much support from AFAC and many other agencies. The key areas being addressed are:

  • Fire behaviour
  • Human behaviour and community safety
  • Building and land-use planning.

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A range of fire and land management agencies, research partners and private companies from Victoria, interstate and overseas have provided extensive support in rapidly collecting data that would have be destroyed by the passage of time. See list of Taskforce participants, at left.

Most of these agencies have provided significant in-kind support to make this project such a success.

There is more detail on the work of the Taskforce at

In the month since 7th February we have successfully deployed teams across the fire affected areas to collect a broad cross section of data.

From the end of this week, the focus will shift to data consolidation before moving into the data analysis and report writing. Future data collection will be targeted to addressing specific needs or supporting the integrative studies and will use fewer field researchers.

I would like to continue with the generous support of the agencies, to undertake this analysis and report writing. Of course the skill set will be specific and we will liaise with the agencies involved to ensure the best fit of skills and resources for the ongoing work.

I will be writing to all agencies involved in the Bushfire CRC’s Victorian Research Taskforce to formally thank them for their involvement. However, let me take this opportunity to convey my personal thanks for the work to date and for the ongoing support for this important initiative, which will have high significance in Australia, New Zealand and internationally.


US Connection

The Taskforce has been greatly assisted by the contribution of many people. One such visitor, Sarah McCaffrey, Research Social Scientist, of the USDA Forest Service, has shared her insights into her research on understanding the social dynamics of fire management including the public acceptance of prescribed fire and the notion of defendable space.  Sarah is well known to some of our stakeholders for the research she has conducted in collaboration with Alan Rhodes at the CFA.

As well as working closely with the Taskforce to assist in defining the research program, Sarah presented a lunchtime seminar at the Department of Sustainability and Environment (DSE) in Melbourne. More than 40 people from the DSE, Country Fire Authority, the Metropolitan Fire Brigade, RMIT University and other organisations heard Sarah talk on “Social Science and Fuel Management – a US perspective.”

Slides from Sarah’s talk can be found here



New CRC bid submitted


Sending the submission: pressing the "go" button are Bushfire CRC CEO Gary Morgan, Research Manager Lyndsey Wright, AFAC CEO Naomi Brown, and Research Director Richard Thornton.

This week the long process to secure funding for a new CRC passed its first major milestone – a formal application was submitted to the Australian Government’s Department of Innovation, Industry, Science and Research on Wednesday.

An exciting and relevant research program for the next decade has been developed under the direction of the AFAC Rebid committee and Bushfire CRC Deputy CEO and Research Director, Dr Richard Thornton.

Successful bids are expected to be announced around July this year.



Senate support

It was pleasing to see that the Senate passed a resolution on 11 February that highly supported our work. The resolution of the Senate:

(a)    Notes the extensive and internationally-recognised work of the Bushfire CRC; and

(b)   Recommends the Government assess the value of upgrading the Centre to be a global wildfire research facility.

Read the latest edition of the CRC Program newsletter, Success Through Innovation, with a foreword by Senator Kim Carr, Minister for Innovation, Industry, Science and Research, that highlights the work of the Bushfire CRC.

A plan for Research Adoption

All Stakeholders and researchers have this week been sent the Research Adoption Plan for the Bushfire CRC. This Plan was presented to the recent meeting of the Governing Board of the Bushfire CRC.

This Plan builds upon the Research Adoption Strategy of last year and provides the detail on how Research Adoption, now the highest priority for the Bushfire CRC, is occurring over the coming year.

All the activities planned align with the four outcome themes endorsed in the Research Adoption Strategy.  These are:

  • Aerial Suppression
  • Prescribed Burning
  • Protecting Fire Fighters
  • Community Safety and Engagement.

Keep checking the Research Adoption section of the Bushfire CRC website as it is being continually updated with new information and more detail on the roll-out of this Plan.

April Stakeholders Meeting

As the Bushfire CRC enters its final stages, the upcoming Stakeholder Council meeting promises to be an important showcase of research outputs. There will also be essential updates on the proposed ongoing research program and more detail on how the Research Adoption plan is being rolled out into the industry.

This meeting will be held on Wednesday 22 April on Level 2 of the Bushfire CRC offices, 340 Albert St, East Melbourne. More information will be sent to all Stakeholder Council representatives soon.



A recent visitor to the offices of the Bushfire CFC was Mr Bob Cameron, the Victorian Minister for Police and Emergency Services. Mr Cameron met with Bushfire CRC office staff and spoke to members of the Research Taskforce about their work following the Victorian fires.


US fire chiefs

An investigation team from California visited the Bushfire CRC as part of a visit to other Victorian and New South Wales agencies soon after the fires of 7 February.  Mike Ferdig, Battalion Chief, and Cari Purkey, Assistant Fire Marshall, from Orange County Fire Authority, were interested to gauge first hand how the Prepare to Stay and Defend or Leave Early position was implemented. Subsequent to this visit Mike Ferdig advised the media that California saw the merits in such a policy:


Orange County fire investigators Cari Purkey and Mike Ferdig, meet Gary Morgan (centre).


Fulbright Scholar

Congratulations to Dr Tina Bell for gaining a scholarship with the prestigious Fulbright Program. Tina, a Bushfire CRC Project Leader and senior research fellow at the University of Melbourne, will travel to the Centre for Fire Research and Outreach (CFRO) at the University of California, Berkeley to study the effect of fuel reduction fires on grapevines.

Her project is called:”Bacchus’ lament: the effect of smoke from fire on grapevine physiology.”

Importantly, Tina will be working with Dr Max Moritz and Assoc Prof Scott Stephens, two CFRO researchers with long ties to the Bushfire CRC. The Bushfire CRC has a memorandum of understanding with CFRO and Tina’s three month project will take full advantage of this arrangement as a catalyst to promote longer term collaboration.



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Dr Tina Bell - Fulbright Scholar.