Fire Behaviour Modelling

Fire behaviour research at Ngarkat Conservation Park


This project addressed the need to better understand the interactions between fire, fuel, weather and topography.

Factors include rate of spread, flame height, intensity and spotting for both wildfires and controlled prescribed fires. The research included experimentation and validation of fire behaviour models, documentation, training and the production and delivery of fire behaviour systems to end users.

Research work included field validation of the findings from Project Vesta results in south eastern fuels.  Project Vesta was a comprehensive research project between CSIRO and Department of Environment and Conservation in Western Australia, investigating the behaviour of bushfires in different fuel ages and structures during dry summer conditions. 

According to project leader Jim Gould of CSIRO:“As a result of this research we have developed a new bushfire spread model for summer wildfires that will provide the basis for a national fire behaviour prediction system for dry eucalypt forests.”

A new model for crown spread in pine plantations was developed out of observations of a plantation fire in Tumut, New South Wales.

Large scale experimental burning and the collection of fire behaviour information from at the Ngarkat Conservation Park in South Australia led a new guide for burning in mallee heath and scrubland, a vegetation type that covers large parts of southern Australia This output was led by Dr Miguel Cruz of CSIRO and followed up with field clinics and a handy field guide to assist fire managers.

This was well received by fire managers with one corresponding after the clinic: “It was a really interesting presentation and the field guide reference is a very valuable tool. We actually used it to determine if we had a 'go' or 'no go' burn day when we started our burning campaign and despite some staff believing fuel moistures would be too high we had sustained propagation due to reasonable wind strengths.”

A PhD project by Phil Lacy developed a field guide for the often difficult task of prescribed burning in young eucalypt plantations. A workshop and field trip for plantation industry staff reinforced these learnings in a hands-on way.

A study on how educational multi-media programs may improve the delivery of fire behaviour training was the focus of postgraduate student Annette Salter, at the University of Tasmania.

Related News

AFAC 2013 Conference Logo
The formal proceedings of the Research Forum, held as part of the 2013 Bushfire CRC and AFAC Conference in Melbourne are now available.
Fire managers in mallee country
Dr Miguel Cruz has been leading seminars and field trips of fire managers to demonstrate his Quick Guide for predicting fire behaviour in semi-arid mallee country. Three seminars have been held to date.
The findings of Australia’s most extensive study to date of the behaviour of high-intensity bushfires in eucalypt forests – Project Vesta – provides valuable new tools and information for fire managers across Australia.
Managing fuel in eucalypt plantations is critical to the success of the plantation. The Bushfire CRC has held a seminar and field trip at Casino in northern New South Wales to show the latest research in this field.
The mallee and heath landscape of Ngarkat Conservation Park in south-eastern South Australia has been deliberately set alight in one of the largest and most comprehensive fire research exercises undertaken in Australia.
The Ngarkat Conservation Park in South Australia has been the scene of Bushfire CRC research into fire behaviour and prescribed burning in recent weeks.
The findings of Australia’s most extensive study to date of the behaviour of high-intensity bushfires in eucalypt forests – Project Vesta – provide valuable new tools and information for fire managers across Australia.
Fuel assessment and fire behaviour prediction training has been carried out with fire and land management agencies across Australia in recent months under the roll out of Project Vesta.

Publications from this Project

Journal Article

W. Mell; M.Ann Jenkins; J.S. Gould; N.P. Cheney
N.P. Cheney; J.S. Gould; L.W. McCaw; W.R. Anderson


J.S. Gould; L.W. McCaw; N.P. Cheney; P. Ellis; S. Matthews
M.G. Cruz; S. Matthews; J.S. Gould; P. Ellis; M.K. Henderson; I.K. Knight; J. Watters
J.S. Gould; L.W. McCaw; N.P. Cheney; P. Ellis; I.K. Knight; A. Sullivan

Conference Paper


L.W. McCaw; N.P. Cheney; J.S. Gould

Conference Proceedings

J. Myers; J.S. Gould; M.G. Cruz; M.K. Henderson