Fire Danger Rating review

The Bushfire CRC is working with the Attorney-General’s department and the various Australian states and territories to develop science to underpin a new fire danger rating system.

The Australian Government allocated $3.6 million under the National Emergency Management Program in 2011 to assist Australian communities better prepare for, respond to and recover from natural disasters and emergencies.

Included among several projects under the Program, 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 firefighting 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.

Research reports

The research reports for the first year of this project are below right. Note that for ease of use, the Comprehensive, nationally consistent climatology of fire weather patterns is listed as Fire weather patterns and separated by chapter. The chapters are:

  • Chapter 1 - Executive summary and introduction
  • Chapter 2 - Fire indices
  • Chapter 3 - Atmospheric parameters
  • Chapter 4 - Case studies
  • Chapter 5 - Summary and Appendix 1
  • Appendix 2
  • Appendix 3
  • Appendix 4

Research Focus