Queensland firefighters have developed world-class technology to help them accurately predict the path of destructive vegetation fires – potentially saving lives and property, Fire and Emergency Services Minister Craig Crawford said today (Monday).
Mr Crawford said specially-trained Queensland Fire and Emergency Services (QFES) personnel were operating the SABRE system, which had proven successful for crews battling recent fires.
“I’m proud to say this fire prediction system was developed by QFES, and we are the only fire agency in the country using this advanced software, which is unique as it accounts for uncertainties to provide several future possible outcomes for a fire,” Mr Crawford said.
“SABRE is used for more complex, larger-scale fires and was successfully implemented to provide information during a recent bushfire in Central Queensland which threatened the safety of eight adults and three children.
“QFES’ Predictive Services Unit worked with partner agencies to map the possible path of the fire, which was overlaid on satellite imagery.
“As there was no active fire suppression due to the inaccessible terrain, SABRE was able to determine with a very high-degree of accuracy the spread of the fire.”
QFES has responded to more than 3000 vegetation fires around the state since August 15 – an average of more than 40 every day.
Mr Crawford said QFES was also using a second system called Phoenix, which is integral with SABRE for predicting the spread of fires.
Phoenix predicts how bushfires are likely to develop and models “what if” scenarios by looking at characteristics such as the speed of the fire, ember density and flame height.
“The two programs can be used to efficiently and effectively manage resources during the response to, and recovery from bushfires,” Mr Crawford said.
“The programs also help determine where fire mitigation activities are best targeted and where resources could be strategically placed ahead of days with an elevated fire danger.
“This helps keep our firefighters and communities safe and provides timely and accurate information to better inform operational decisions,” he said.
QFES Commissioner Katarina Carroll said QFES worked closely with the Bureau of Meteorology to ensure they had the most up-to-date information, and that the two systems had also recently been put to the test in the North Coast region.
“A new method of hazard reduction burn planning was trialled using the Phoenix software and SABRE for Operation Cool Burn,” Ms Carroll said.
“The technology provided vital information on which areas to prioritise for planned burns as it identified high-risk areas leading into bushfire season.”
Minister for Fire and Emergency Services
The Honourable Craig Crawford