EMV to lead Victorian implementation of national fire danger rating system project

9 November 2021
Image of firefighters battling a large fire.

Emergency Management Victoria (EMV) is leading a project to implement the new nationally consistent Australian Fire Danger Rating System (AFDRS).

The AFDRS aims to enhance public safety and reduce the impact of bushfires by improving the scientific accuracy behind fire danger ratings and how fire danger is communicated to the community.

The new system offers a modernised approach and is designed to improve fire danger predictions so government agencies, the community and industry can have greater confidence in the ratings information and advice provided.

New technology and research developments have greatly improved our ability to accurately predict fire behaviour and the potential threat to the community.

The need for a simpler, community focussed fire danger rating system was identified by extensive social research.

The AFDRS uses the latest scientific understanding about weather, fuel and fire behaviour in different types of vegetation to improve the reliability of fire danger forecasts. It also calculates fire danger at a finer geographic scale. This strengthens the ability of emergency services to be better prepared, make improved decisions and provide accurate advice to the community.

The new system will comprise two components:

  • a new operational system for calculating fire danger ratings, and
  • a new framework for communicating fire danger.

Calculating fire danger

The new system includes a Fire Behaviour Index (a scale of fire danger) that uses the latest in fire science and produces accurate and timely fire danger information across eight different fuel types rather than the current two fuel types. The AFDRS will provide more refined detail across Victoria to support decisions about fire preparedness and bushfire suppression. It is designed so that improved science, data and information can be incorporated in the future.

The new system will be tested during the upcoming bushfire season before being launched ahead of the 2022/23 bushfire season. There will be no visible changes to the public messaging and warning products during the testing period.

For more information on the new system, visit the AFAC (National Council for Fire and Emergency Services) website (External link).

Communicating fire danger

It is expected the number of fire danger rating levels will be reduced from six to four under the new system. It will provide a more accurate indication of potential fire behaviour that may be observed should a fire start and clear action-oriented messaging for the community at each level. The new system will be presented to the community in a consistent way in every state and territory, further reducing the possibility for confusion across borders.