Country Fire Authority

Burwood, Australia

Country Fire Authority

Burwood, Australia
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Petersen A.,Deakin University | Petersen A.,Bushfire Co operative Research Center | Petersen A.,Victoria University of Melbourne | Payne W.,University of Ballarat | And 7 more authors.
Ergonomics | Year: 2010

Fighting wildland fire is a physically demanding occupation. Wildland firefighters need to be physically fit to work safely and productively. To determine whether personnel are fit for duty, many firefighting agencies employ physical competency tests, such as the pack hike test (PHT). The PHT involves a 4.83-km hike over level terrain carrying a 20.4-kg pack within a 45-min period. The PHT was devised to test the job readiness of US wildland firefighters but is also currently used by some fire agencies in Australia and Canada. This review discusses the history and development of the PHT with emphasis on the process of test validation. Researchbased training advice for the PHT is given, as well as discussion of the risks associated with completing the PHT. Different versions and modifications to the PHT have emerged in recent years and these are discussed with regard to their validity. Finally, this review addresses the relevance and validity of the PHT for Australian and Canadian wildland firefighters. © 2010 Taylor & Francis.


Phillips R.,RMIT University | Cook A.,Country Fire Authority | Schauble H.,Country Fire Authority | Walker M.,RMIT University
Australian Journal of Emergency Management | Year: 2016

Emergency management agencies are confronted with problems when communicating preparedness information to communities. Levels of community preparedness remain low despite the availability of education materials and bushfire safety programs. To address these challenges innovative approaches to engage communities are needed. This paper presents evidence from an arts-based community engagement initiative that promoted disaster resilience in a regional Victorian town. This approach allowed staff of the Country Fire Authority (CFA) to initiate conversations with local community members about bushfire safety. Some challenges identified with this approach related to CFA staff skill levels, appropriate organisational support, and response capacities of the local volunteer brigade. The question this paper raises is whether agencies can engage communities effectively using innovative activities.


Savage R.J.,Human Performance Science | Lord C.,Deakin University | Larsen B.L.,Deakin University | Knight T.L.,Country Fire Authority | And 2 more authors.
Journal of Thermal Biology | Year: 2014

Monitoring an individual's thermic state in the workplace requires reliable feedback of their core temperature. However, core temperature measurement technology is expensive, invasive and often impractical in operational environments, warranting investigation of surrogate measures which could be used to predict core temperature. This study examines an alternative measure of an individual's thermic state, thermal sensation, which presents a more manageable and practical solution for Australian firefighters operating on the fireground. Across three environmental conditions (cold, warm, hot & humid), 49 Australian volunteer firefighters performed a 20-min fire suppression activity, immediately followed by 20min of active cooling using hand and forearm immersion techniques. Core temperature (Tc) and thermal sensation (TS) were measured across the rehabilitation period at five minute intervals. Despite the decline in Tc and TS throughout the rehabilitation period, there was little similarity in the magnitude or rate of decline between each measure in any of the ambient conditions. Moderate to strong correlations existed between Tc and TS in the cool (0.41, p<0.05) and hot & humid (0.57, p<0.05) conditions, however this was resultant in strong correlation during the earlier stages of rehabilitation (first five minutes), which were not evident in the latter stages. Linear regression revealed TS to be a poor predictor of Tc in all conditions (SEE=0.45-0.54°C) with a strong trend for TS to over-predict Tc (77-80% of the time). There is minimal evidence to suggest that ratings of thermal sensation, which represent a psychophysical assessment of an individual's thermal comfort, are an accurate reflection of the response of an individual's core temperature. Ratings of thermal sensation can be highly variable amongst individuals, likely moderated by local skin temperature. In account of these findings, fire managers require a more reliable source of information to guide decisions of heat stress management. © 2014.


PubMed | Country Fire Authority, Deakin University and Human Performance Science
Type: | Journal: Journal of thermal biology | Year: 2014

Monitoring an individuals thermic state in the workplace requires reliable feedback of their core temperature. However, core temperature measurement technology is expensive, invasive and often impractical in operational environments, warranting investigation of surrogate measures which could be used to predict core temperature. This study examines an alternative measure of an individuals thermic state, thermal sensation, which presents a more manageable and practical solution for Australian firefighters operating on the fireground. Across three environmental conditions (cold, warm, hot & humid), 49 Australian volunteer firefighters performed a 20-min fire suppression activity, immediately followed by 20 min of active cooling using hand and forearm immersion techniques. Core temperature (Tc) and thermal sensation (TS) were measured across the rehabilitation period at five minute intervals. Despite the decline in Tc and TS throughout the rehabilitation period, there was little similarity in the magnitude or rate of decline between each measure in any of the ambient conditions. Moderate to strong correlations existed between Tc and TS in the cool (0.41, p<0.05) and hot & humid (0.57, p<0.05) conditions, however this was resultant in strong correlation during the earlier stages of rehabilitation (first five minutes), which were not evident in the latter stages. Linear regression revealed TS to be a poor predictor of Tc in all conditions (SEE=0.45-0.54C) with a strong trend for TS to over-predict Tc (77-80% of the time). There is minimal evidence to suggest that ratings of thermal sensation, which represent a psychophysical assessment of an individuals thermal comfort, are an accurate reflection of the response of an individuals core temperature. Ratings of thermal sensation can be highly variable amongst individuals, likely moderated by local skin temperature. In account of these findings, fire managers require a more reliable source of information to guide decisions of heat stress management.


Wolkow A.,Deakin University | Wolkow A.,Bushfire Co operative Research Center | Netto K.,Curtin University Australia | Langridge P.,Country Fire Authority | And 5 more authors.
Archives of Environmental and Occupational Health | Year: 2014

Coronary heart disease (CHD) is a major problem for firefighters, even when considering the healthy worker effect (HWE). Although volunteer firefighters outnumber paid personnel, previous research has focused on paid US firefighters. By contrast, no CHD data for Australian firefighters exist. Risk factor data were collected from 2,943 Australian volunteer firefighters and CHD risk was compared with reference "low-risk" and Australian population data. Predicted CHD risk for male and female firefighter was 19.2% and 5.1%, respectively. Female firefighters high blood pressure and fasting glucose was significantly lower than the general population, whereas all other risk factors was similar to the general population. Firefighters' CHD risk was greater than other volunteer and paid emergency services, but the prevalence for most risk factors was similar to the general population. Therefore, Australian volunteer firefighters may not benefit from the HWE. © 2014 Taylor & Francis Group, LLC.


Kidnie S.,Country Fire Authority | Wotton B.M.,Natural Resources Canada
International Journal of Wildland Fire | Year: 2015

Prescribed burning can be an integral part of tallgrass prairie restoration and management. Understanding fire behaviour in this fuel is critical to conducting safe and effective prescribed burns. Our goal was to quantify important physical characteristics of southern Ontario's tallgrass fuel complex prior to and during prescribed burns and synthesise our findings into useful applications for the prescribed fire community. We found that the average fuel load in tallgrass communities was 0.70kgm-2. Fuel loads varied from 0.38 to 0.96kgm-2. Average heat of combustion did not vary by species and was 17 334kJkg-1. A moisture content model was developed for fully cured, matted field grass, which was found to successfully predict moisture content of the surface layers of cured tallgrass in spring. We observed 25 head fires in spring-season prescribed burns with spread rates ranging from 4 to 55mmin-1. Flame front residence time averaged 27s, varying significantly with fuel load but not fire spread rate. A grassland spread rate model from Australia showed the closest agreement with observed spread rates. These results provide prescribed-burn practitioners in Ontario better information to plan and deliver successful burns. © IAWF 2015.


Slijepcevic A.,Country Fire Authority | Anderson W.R.,University of New South Wales | Matthews S.,CSIRO | Matthews S.,University of Sydney
Forest Ecology and Management | Year: 2013

Several days of hourly fuel moisture sampling were carried out in Southern Tasmania in dry and damp eucalyptus forest to test fuel moisture prediction models used in Australia, and to provide information on equilibrium moisture content and response time for use in more complex models. Moisture contents of near surface, surface, profile litter and bark fuels were measured, along with standard weather variables. On one set of four consecutive days fuel temperatures were also measured with thermocouples.One of the simple empirical fuel moisture prediction models worked well on the litter fuels for which it was intended, but another of the simple models in common use, predicted poorly, particularly on the damp site. One of the simple models was modified, and gave acceptable predictions for profile litter. Another simple model was calibrated to give good predictions for near surface, bark and litter fuels in the middle of the day. A more physically-based 'bookkeeping' model for estimating response time and EMC worked very well on all strata but the litter profile. Response times of all fuel strata were of the order of 1. h. A process based model worked slightly better than the EMC estimation model for near surface, litter and bark fuel and considerably better for profile litter, especially on the damp site. On the whole these models performed better than the simple empirical models, but they were tuned to various degrees by site information. © 2013 Elsevier B.V.


Martin D.,Country Fire Authority | Chen T.,Country Fire Authority | Nichols D.,Country Fire Authority | Bessell R.,Country Fire Authority | And 2 more authors.
International Journal of Wildland Fire | Year: 2015

In Australia, the Grassland Fire Danger Index is determined by several inputs including an essential component, the degree of grassland curing, defined as the proportion of senescent material. In the state of Victoria (south-eastern Australia), techniques used for curing assessment have included the use of ground-based observations and the use of satellite imagery. Both techniques alone have inherent limitations. An improved technique has been developed for estimating the degree of curing that entails the use of satellite observations adjusted by observations from the ground. First, a satellite model was developed, named MapVictoria, based on historical satellite and ground-based observations. Second, with use of the new (MapVictoria) satellite model, an integrated model was developed, named the Victorian Improved Satellite Curing Algorithm, combining near-real-time satellite data with weekly observations of curing from the ground. This integrated model was deployed in operations supporting accurate fire danger calculations for grasslands in Victoria in 2013. © IAWF 2015.


Gibbs L.,University of Melbourne | Sia K.-L.,Deakin University | Block K.,University of Melbourne | Baker E.,University of Melbourne | And 5 more authors.
International Journal of Disaster Risk Reduction | Year: 2015

There is increasing recognition of the importance of shared responsibility between community and government in supporting community preparedness in disaster risk reduction programs. However, there is limited evidence to support decision making about how best to allocate resources. This paper presents an economic analysis of the Community Fireguard Program coordinated by the Country Fire Authority in Victoria, Australia. The economic analysis evaluates the costs and benefits of the Community Fireguard program (estimated in 2012 Australian dollars) to determine the efficiency of the program in terms of its outcomes of loss of life and property loss in the event of a bushfire. We take a societal perspective, including all costs and benefits regardless of who bears the costs, who receives the benefits or who provides the resources. The analysis uses data from a previous review of the program and estimates of costs and benefits over ten years, assuming each region faces a 10-year risk of major bushfire and the CFG group learnings would last ten years. Totalled over ten years, the cost per Fireguard Group for the program is $10,884, with a range of $2697-$19,071, and in the event of a major bushfire the predicted savings from reduced property loss is $732,747 and from reduced fatality $1.4 million. Even if the risk of major bushfire event in a region were one in 100 years, the estimated cost savings in a 100-year period is $217,116 per group. The value of the psychosocial impacts was not calculated, as quantitative data are currently not available. © 2015 Elsevier Ltd.


News Article | December 31, 2015
Site: www.reuters.com

Residents in three coastal towns in the popular holiday area were advised to leave their homes as temperatures were forecast to reach a high of almost 40 degrees Celsius (104 Fahrenheit). The hot summer weather threatened to escalate fires that have been burning for almost two weeks. "The local community has listened to the best of advice and will leave their homes because on such a challenging day, with that fire still active, so close to them, it's not safe for them nor is it safe for those who have been called on to protect them," Victoria state Premier Daniel Andrews told reporters. The fires were started by a lightning strike on Dec. 19 and continue to burn and spread. The Country Fire Authority estimates the blazes have burnt out more than 2,500 hectares (6,175 acres) of land. Authorities estimate that 116 homes were destroyed by the fires on Christmas Day. Once the immediate threat has passed, some relief could be on the horizon for residents with temperatures forecast to drop in the coming days. Isolated showers are also predicted for some parts of the southern coast. The Great Ocean Road is one of Australia's biggest tourist draws with its spectacular scenery and unusual offshore rock formations. Parts of the road remained closed to traffic on Thursday during what is typically one of its busiest times of the year. In 2009, Victoria witnessed Australia's worst-ever bushfire disaster, with 173 people killed in what has been dubbed "Black Saturday".

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