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Burwood, Australia

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.

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".

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.

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.

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.

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