26 September 2023

Fire rating colours to be recoloured

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The Department of Fire and Emergency Services (DFES) has announced that the traditional way in which Australian fire agencies determine and communicate Fire Danger Ratings is to be changed.

According to DFES, the new Australian Fire Danger Rating System (AFDRS) is being developed using the latest science to be more accurate and relevant to where we all live.

In a statement, DFES said the new system will be used across the country meaning that Australians travelling or at home will be informed by the same system wherever they might be.

“Community feedback informed the design to help make fire danger easier to understand,” DFES said, “and provide you with clearer advice about how to stay safe”.

It said that under the new system, the Fire Danger Rating will have four levels instead of six – Moderate, High, Extreme and Catastrophic – giving the public display national consistence.

“There will be actions for each level, so you know what to do to protect your life, family and property,” the Department said.

“You will start seeing the new Fire Danger Ratings online and in your local community from 1 September 2022 through an extensive community engagement and education campaign.”

It said the science underpinning Australia’s current Fire Danger Ratings was more than 60 years old and as science has improved, so has our ability to predict fire behaviour and threat more accurately.

“In recent years, fire management personnel have mapped the vegetation across the entire country,” the Department said.

“So instead of the current system using just forest and grass to determine the fire danger, the new system will use eight different types of vegetation – making it more accurate.”

It said that by using the latest science, it, along with the other fire agencies across the country, will be able to assess the conditions and the consequences of a fire better, if one was to start.

The four levels of fire danger in the new system are:

* Moderate: Plan and prepare;

* High: Be ready to act;

* Extreme: Take action now to protect your life and property;

* Catastrophic: For your survival, leave bush fire risk areas.

“Fire Danger Ratings will be issued on days when there is a fire risk,” DFES said.

It said the Fire Danger Rating for an area would be determined using the new Fire Behaviour Index (FBI) as a key input.”

The FBI is a scale of fire danger (0-100+) that uses the latest in fire science to produce outputs across the eight vegetation types. It will support decisions about fire preparedness, planned burning and bushfire suppression.

More information about the new system can be accessed at this PS News link and the 54-page National Social Research Report found at this link.

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