Simulation Based Bushfire Preparedness

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 Russell Stephens-Peacock, Acting Station Officer & Fire Behaviour Analyst – Fire Simulations, Queensland Fire and Emergency Services joins us at the Conference to discuss ‘Simulation Based Bushfire Preparedness’.

Mr Russell Stephens-Peacock


The QFES Predictive Services Unit (PSU) provides repeatable, reliable, science based, authoritative and consistent predictions that make communities and responders safer. In turn this helps the community to prevent, prepare for, respond to and recover from the impact of fires.

During the 2017 Queensland bushfire season the PSU developed and deployed products that quantify when, where and by how much the relative bushfire potential is likely to change day to day out to 6 days ahead. The “look ahead” can be used to guide the Wildfire Alert Levels (WAL) and optimising the timing of WAL changes in Regions and Rural Areas in preparation for worsening / easing bushfire fire potential.

This new capability uses the best available data including fuel, topographic and weather, tools, techniques and technical expertise. It improves on the current weather based Fire Danger Rating by moving to a fire behaviour based approach that better accounts for fuel load and structure. This is particularly important in drought effected areas of Queensland where fire behaviour potential is significantly reduced using this approach.

The capability uses the same operational fire behaviour and spread guidance being provided to fire managers coming from the same source. It seeks to provide incident controllers and fire managers with an intuitive spatial product to help them in optimising preparedness levels including allocation of resources, such as aircraft and incident management teams, ahead of increased fire potential.

Acting Station Officer Russell Stephens-Peacock joined the Queensland Fire and Emergency Service in 2007. He started his fire career as a public servant in the Training and Emergency Management Unit. After becoming an Operational Firefighter in 2008, he worked in various roles as a General Evacuation & First Response facilitator, Tango Command and Control appliance operator, member of the Brisbane Emergency Response Team (BERT), Auxiliary Firefighter and currently works as a Fire Behaviour Analyst (FBAN) in the Predictive Services Unit (PSU).

In his role as a BERT member he has attended 13 intrastate emergencies and disasters spanning cyclones, floods and campaign fires. He was deployed interstate as an FBAN to the Tasmanian 2016 fires working within their Incident Management Teams (IMT) and also has significant experience working in multi-Agency IMT’s. Russell has tertiary qualifications including a diploma in Fire and Rescue Operations, a Diploma in Management and has received the 2010-2011 Queensland Flood and Cyclone Citation along with the Tasmanian Government 2016 appreciation lapel pin.

The PSU has received the 2014 Commissioner’s Award for Excellence – Highly Commended Achievement in Professional Development, the 2016 Commissioner’s Award for Innovation, the 2017 Commissioner’s Awards for Excellence – Strategic Capability for the development and implementation of the 6 Day Look Ahead Bushfire Risk Tool.

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