Scion's Rural Fire Research programme comprises four major themes aligned to the ‘4 Rs’ of fire risk management in New Zealand:
- Reduction – fire mitigation and prevention, wildfire threat analysis, risk assessment and planning, and fuels management.
- Readiness – setting fire suppression preparedness levels, adequate resourcing of Rural Fire Authorities, and managing fire season status and activities.
- Response – responding to fires with adequate resources, safe and effective fire suppression, accurate predictions of fire behaviour, and decisions around evacuation or asset protection.
- Recovery – understanding and learning from fire events to reduce the impacts, prevent reoccurrence and increase community resilience.
Other research areas include improving firefighter productivity and the social aspects of fire management, such as community recovery, and communication and education mechanisms.
Our objectives are to provide land and fire management agencies with greater capacity to:
- Enhance firefighter safety
- Understand vegetation fire behaviour and risk
- Enhance community safety and protection
- Provide better prescriptions to implement controlled burning programmes
- Deploy effective suppression resources
- Manage fire in different vegetation types
Our programme increases knowledge of fuels and fire behaviour, with a strong focus on the development and improvement of the New Zealand Fire Danger Rating System. This system assists rural fire managers to assess risk, predict the spread of fires, and manage the safety of firefighters and the public. It also allows for the safe and effective use of fire as a land management tool for applications such as crop burning and land clearing.
Scion works closely with the following agencies:
- National Rural Fire Authority
- NZ Fire Service Commission
- NZ Forest Owners’ Association
- Department of Conservation
- NZ Defence Force
- Territorial authorities
- Federated Farmers of New Zealand
Our programme is supported by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment.
In addition to direct funding, we receive considerable “in-kind” support for research activities from rural fire authorities throughout the country.