National Fire Behaviour Knowledge Base- Bringing together the best information for best decisions

This is a paper presented at the 2013 Bushfire CRC Research Forum.

The estimation of fire behaviour is an important component of any fire management approach, allowing the determination of the impacts of fire on ecosystem components, public safety and warnings, and supporting bushfire management decision-making. Fire behaviour prediction combines quantitative and qualitative information based on experience and scientific principles describing the combustion and behaviour of fire influenced by topography, weather and fuel. Predictions based on mathematical models integrate these important factors in a consistent way. The National Fire Behaviour Knowledge Base (NFBKB) is a new software-based tool that consists of four primary components (fuel models, fuel moisture models, wind models, and fire behaviour models) to predict expected fire characteristics (e.g., rate of spread, flame height, fireline intensity, onset of crowning, spotting potential, etc).

This paper details the current development of the fire behaviour component of the NFBKB system as well as how this will be integrated with the Australian bushfire fuel classification project currently being undertaken by AFAC. The fire behaviour component integrates a suite of models covering the main fuel types of Australia: eucalyptus forests, exotic pine plantations, grasslands, shrublands and Malleeheath. In the near future further CSIRO development of the National Fire Behaviour Knowledge Base will integrate the latest fire behaviour, fire weather, and fuel dynamics knowledge and science to help fire managers better predict bushfire behaviour and better plan prescribed burns. The paper also presents an overview of how these proposed future components of the knowledge base will be brought together.