The CSIRO Bushfire Spread Simulator
The technology of fire behaviour prediction in Australia
has progressed relatively slowly since Alan McArthur
developed his Fire Danger Rating Systems in the 1950s
and 1960s. The prediction of probable fire spread
is a very important element in planning fire suppression
commitment to wildfires and reducing the damage caused
by wildfires. The effectiveness of deployment depends
greatly on the knowledge of where the fire will be
by the time the suppression forces arrive in the field.
Knowing in advance where to put the ground crews is
a powerful weapon in the fight to save lives and property.
Nomographs, tables and graphs used in conjunction
with McArthur's rules for the effect of slope on fire
spread have traditionally been used in conjunction
with paper maps for predicting the spread of wildfire
SiroFire, the CSIRO Bushfire Spread Simulator revolutionises
CSIRO's Bushfire Behaviour and Management Group has
completed development of SiroFire, a PC-based decision
support application designed to assist fire controllers
in predicting the likely spread of a fire under forecast
weather conditions. It is constructed around the McArthur
Forest and Grass FDRS meters and the new CSIRO Grassland
Fire Spread Meter. The algorithms that are built into
the meters are used to estimate the probable fire
behaviour characteristics from fuel and weather information
entered by a fire controller.
SiroFire uses information such as temperature, relative
humidity, wind speed and direction, fuel load and
conditions, grass curing, slope, and the selected
fire spread model to predict the spread of a wildfire
and plot the perimeter on a map of the area of interest.
Unlike the cardboard meters, SiroFire estimates the
rate of spread for the entire perimeter. The perimeter
is predicted at regular intervals and a map of the
fire spread across the landscape constructed, giving
the fire controller an indication of what the fire
may do in the course of the next several hours.
Its easy-to-use interface ensures suitability for
use by Fire Control Officers and for training staff
in the principles of fire behaviour. GIS-derived geographic
maps and digital terrain models are used to graphically
present the spread of the fire over the map display.
As new fire spread models are developed they can
be easily incorporated into SiroFire and issued to
fire authorities for testing and evaluation.