Rural Fire Research Updates
Rural fire research updates.
Communication of fire danger
Published Online - Feb 2012.
The Scion Rural Fire Research Group has examined the effectiveness of fire danger warnings in New Zealand. This study revealed that managers had reservations about the effectiveness of current fire danger warnings, and raised a number of other concerns that warranted exploration through a public survey. The survey canvassed public perception of rural fire danger communication in Northland and Canterbury. Results showed that while most people are aware of fire danger warning signs and other communications, they frequently do not understand what the ratings mean or what behaviour is expected of them.
Future fire danger
Published Online - Nov 2011.
This study aimed to provide improved estimates of the effects of climate change on future fire danger for New Zealand.
Results indicate that fire climate severity is likely to rise significantly with climate change in many parts of the country. A doubling or even trebling of fire danger is possible in some areas as a result of increases in temperature and decreases in rainfall, although higher wind speeds and lower humidity may also contribute to higher future fire dangers.
Fire Climate Severity
Published Online - Jul 2011.
The objective of this study was to provide improved information on fire climate severity across New Zealand. This was achieved by conducting an updated analysis of historical fire weather records using additional data collected since the previous analysis in 2003, and then mapping regional variability in fire climate severity.
The resulting information provides an improved description of New Zealand’s fire climate for use in a range of rural fire management planning activities. This includes describing wildfire risk, identifying further weather station requirements, and assisting with delineation of boundaries for Enlarged Rural Fire Districts. It also provides a baseline on our current climate for comparing the effects of climate change on future fire climate severity (see Update #9).
Rural Firefighter Workload
Published Online - Apr 2011.
This research aims to improve the health and safety of rural firefighters by determining, under New Zealand operational conditions, the physiological workload of firefighting tasks. The physiological workload of firefighters was measured by recording firefighters’ heart rate and concurrently measuring the concentration of carbon monoxide (CO) in the breathing zone of the firefighter and the breathing rate of the firefighter.
Thresholds for fire development in gorse
Published Online - Dec 2009.
A study has recently been completed to determine the threshold conditions under which fires will ignite and develop into spreading fires in gorse scrub. It is well-known that fires in gorse, like other scrub fuels, appear to almost be controlled by an “on/ off switch” – fires will either fail to develop, or will develop and spread at very high intensities that make suppression difficult. These intensely hot, fast-moving fires can pose safety risks for firefighters, landowners and communities. There does not appear to be any level of moderate fire behaviour or gradual build up to these high intensity fires. Previously, very little research has been carried out into defining these thresholds for fire development in scrub fuels.
CASE STUDY: Mount Cook Station Fire
Published Online - Oct 2009.
On the afternoon of Wednesday, 16 January 2008, a fire began on the eastern side of Lake Pukaki in the Mackenzie Basin, South Canterbury. The fire was fanned by strong northwest winds that hampered efforts to bring it under control. Extreme fire behaviour was witnessed during the first 24 hours. At its height, more than 60 personnel fought to contain the 750 ha fire area with a 14 km perimeter. Their efforts, combined with a change in weather, allowed the fire to be contained on 17 January 2008.
Fuel load recovery in tussock grasslands
Published Online - May 2009.
Analysis of New Zealand's wildfire records
Published Online - Feb 2009.
Fire behaviour tools
Published Online - Jul 2008.
Learning by burning
Published Online - Apr 2008.
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Senior Fire Scientist, Rural Fire Research