A New National Fire Danger Rating System

The 2018 Australian and New Zealand Disaster and Emergency Management Conference is almost here again, this year the Conference will be held over the 21-22 May at The Star Gold Coast.

Mr Lew Short, Program Director at AFAC joins us at the Conference to discuss ‘A New National Fire Danger Rating System’.

Mr Lew Short

Abstract

The current fire danger rating system is based on science from the 1960s. The current fire danger rating system has limitations, is extremely sensitive to small changes in conditions, and fires are more frequently experienced beyond the traditional scale. The National Fire Danger Rating System Program aims to build a new fire danger rating system that is based on updated science that builds upon decades of research into fire behaviour and our ability to predict conditions.

The first stage of the program was a joint project of the NSW Rural Fire Service, the Bureau of Meteorology and AFAC to develop a research prototype that calculates fire behaviour indices and ratings using improved science and knowledge. The research prototype calculates fire danger based on fire behaviour metrics for eight major fuel types for which suitable fire behaviour models were available. Detailed fire behaviour tables were prepared for each of the eight major fuel types that considered fire behaviour characteristics, suppression, response and consequences such as fire size and property loss.

A national trial ran from October 2017 to March 2018, where all jurisdictions participated in collecting information on the behaviour of, and response to, live incidents. The performance of the system is being evaluated based on its ability to predict these observed ratings for actual fires.

Community research will also be conducted to confirm that the system is understood and delivers benefits and readily comprehensible information to the community.

A new fire danger rating system will help fire and emergency services better predict and understand fire weather, fire ignition and the potential for fires to impact the community. It will also help deliver more accurate messages to the community about the risk of fire that are reflective of the conditions in their area.
Biography

Lew is an experienced leader with over 25 years experience in government and the emergency services sector. He has led a number of state-wide initiatives on an all hazards and across all agencies for community resilience, consequence management and strategic risk management. Lew has worked for EMV. the NSW Rural Fire Service, in the private sector and for local government as a land manager and is currently working for AFAC and is Principal of Blackash Consulting . Lew has an intimate knowledge of the workings of government and how emergency service organisations operate.

For more information on the 2018 Australian and New Zealand Disaster and Emergency Management Conference and to secure your spot, visit the conference website.